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2015 Nominations will be accepted beginning Fall 2014

About / Video & Photos / "Must Read" book list



2014 Mary McNaughton-Cassill, Professor of Psychology

"Lifetime Guarantee Not Included"
About / Video /


Dr. Aaron Cassill

2013 Aaron Cassill, Professor of Biology

"Our Amazingly Significant Insignificance"
About / Video & Photos / "Must Read" book list"


About Mary McNaughton-Cassill


A recognized authority on the subject of Stress, McNaughton-Cassill last year published "Mind the Gap: Coping with Stress in the Modern World." Dr. McNaughton-Cassill received her Ph.D. in 1991 from the University of California, San Diego- San Diego State University Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, with an emphasis on Behavioral Medicine.

Mary McNaughton-Cassill

Professor, Associate Dean for COLFA


Her research involved Psychological and Psychoimmunological explorations of stress responses among elderly Alzheimer's Disease Caregivers.

She also holds a Master's Degree in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, Psychology with an emphasis on Physiological Psychology, where her research involved the study of glucocorticoid responses to stress in rats. She is currently an Associate Professor and the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Affairs for the College of Liberal and Fine Arts.



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About Professor Cassill


Professor Aaron Cassill teaches in the College of Science and was the winner of this year's Piper Foundation Award for outstanding achievement and the 2012 Regents' Award. He earned his B.A. at Harvard University and his Ph.D. at the University of California, San Diego, before accepting a faculty position at UTSA in 1993.

Auspiciously influenced by great teachers since his elementary school years, Cassill has crafted his own unique pedagogy by emulating their examples of kindness, enthusiasm for sharing knowledge, and genuine interest in the maturation of one's students. He sees his students as individuals and believes that his responsibility as a teacher goes beyond providing them with information, but also in assisting them in becoming the people they wish to be.

In class, Cassill often illustrates biology's relevance to everyday life. He strives to show his students that there is no such thing as a fact, and that the pursuit of knowledge is an infinite progression, which they are all capable of contributing to.

"To me, teaching is about always moving forward and watching the limits of knowledge move out even further beyond us," he said. "But this is not discouraging; instead it is the best part of the adventure."

Professor Cassill

Professor, Biology College of Sciences


In his 18-year career at UTSA, Cassill has been a critical agent in the growth of the College of Sciences. He currently teaches Contemporary Biology, Genetics, and an Honors Colloquium (which he teaches with his wife, psychology professor Mary McNaughton-Cassill) called "Science and Psychology of Everyday Life"—all of which rapidly fill to capacity every semester.

When he teaches biology, Cassill said, "I want the students to always be aware of how amazing life is and how many complex layers go into even the most basic understanding of the material."

A sentiment shared among his students is that Cassill's courses are some of the most engaging and enjoyable offered at UTSA. "He conveys information on complicated scientific topics with impressive clarity, encouraging curiosity through frequent references to real-world applications and cutting-edge research," wrote one former student.

Cassill is also active in promoting interest in science and mathematics from all age levels in San Antonio's public school system. He is the director of STEM Initiatives for the College of Science and the associate director of the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) and the Minority Biomedical Research Scientists (MBRS) programs.

"By strengthening pre-college education, he increases options and opportunities for UTSA students well before they arrive at UTSA," said geology professor Stuart Birnbaum. "His approach is much like gardening: sow the seeds, nurture the growing plant, and harvest the fruits of that labor."

Story by Connor McBrearty. Photo by Patrick Ray Dunn.

Books to consider


Malcolm Gladwell, Blink

Martin Seligman, Authentic Happiness

Charles Duhigg The Power of Habit

Oliver Sacks, The Mind's Eye

Robert Sapolsky, Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

Barry Schwartz The Paradox of Choice. Why More is Less

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Flow

Jonah Lehrer How We Decide

Steven Johnson Everything Bad is Good For You




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