A Distinction Among Peers

Marie Helweg-Larsen

Karina Rabinowitz, psychology, on Goodyear Ceramics Studio

Professor of Psychology Marie Helweg-Larsen earns 2015-16 Distinguished Teaching Award

by Christine Baksi

Professor of Psychology Marie Helweg-Larsen has been selected by her peers to receive the 2015-16 Distinguished Teaching Award, which recognizes excellence in teaching and is the highest honor given to a Dickinson faculty member. It is determined by faculty voting and is approved by the president.

“We have some incredibly talented teachers at Dickinson, and the fact that my peers thought me worthy of this award means a great deal to me,” said Helweg-Larsen. The citation naming her as this year’s Distinguished Teaching Award winner points to her as a challenging, supportive and passionate teacher. It also highlights her commitment to, and passion for, faculty-mentored student research. A majority of the 20 peer-reviewed articles she has published since coming to Dickinson in 2002 have involved student collaborators, and students have joined her as co-presenters at more than a dozen conferences. “I never felt as if I was working for her,” wrote one student. “It always seemed to be more a collaboration than a hierarchy.”

Helweg-Larsen’s scholarly interests include moralization, stigmatization and risk perception in how people think about themselves and their health. Her current research is a cross-cultural study of smokers in the U.S. and Denmark that examines how stigma affects smokers’ thoughts, attitudes and smoking behaviors. It is funded by a three-year grant from the National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is expected to have important implications for smoking-cessation programs, public-health policy and the fight against cancer. This marks her second NIH grant.

Helweg-Larsen’s research team will include undergraduate students at Dickinson and in Denmark, in keeping with her role as teacher-scholar as well as the important goals of the grant, which are to train future scientists; add competent, capable students to research fields; and enhance Dickinson’s research environment. “I love mentoring students, whether it is as their advisor, supervising their research projects or in teaching,” she said. “It is such a privilege to get to closely work with students and help them become successful.”

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Published May 25, 2016