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UC Berkeley professor strives to engage students through creative lectures

UC Berkeley professor strives to engage students through creative lectures

When UC Berkeley announced that the fall semester would be virtual, campus computer science professor Dan Garcia transformed his “man cave” basement into a studio in order to make engaging prerecorded video lectures for his students.

According to campus sophomore Kyle Yu, Garcia — who is teaching Computer Science 61C, “Great Ideas in Computer Architecture” and Computer Science 10, “The Beauty and Joy of Computing” this semester — has always been known as a funny and creative professor. During his lecture videos this semester, Garcia has performed an impression of “The Godfather” while petting a Pusheen stuffed toy, and he has also incorporated juggling into his lessons, according to campus sophomore Boyang Li.

Yu added that Garcia’s enthusiasm and love for teaching motivate him to want to learn more.

“They are a lot of fun. Typically what you learn in (computer science) is ‘teach me the concepts’ and that’s it, but when I am watching it, I actually laugh,” Yu said. “It makes me look forward to watching the lectures and learning from them.”

In August, Garcia received a grant from the College of Engineering that included one month of summer salary to cover some of the time he spent on creating the videos.

Garcia said he has equipped his studio with a previously purchased green screen, 4K camera, lights and microphone.

Additionally, Garcia said that when he first set up his studio, he spent days adjusting the lights and optimizing the acoustics with sound baffles, which are designed to absorb sound to prevent echoes. He added that he spends about six to 12 hours making each video.

“You can tell when people are excited by them. I also love the material, and I think that comes across,” Garcia said. “I really appreciate and enjoy sharing the enthusiasm with my

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UH creative writing professor named recipient of 2020 MacArthur Fellowship, will receive $625,000 grant

UH creative writing professor named recipient of 2020 MacArthur Fellowship, will receive $625,000 grant

HOUSTON – A University of Houston creative writing professor has joined 20 others in being named as a recipient of the 2020 MacArthur Fellowship and will receive $625,000 over a five-year span.

Cristina Rivera Garza, founder and director of the UH doctoral program in Hispanic Studies with a concentration in creative writing in Spanish, joins Rick Lowe, a UH professor of art who earned the fellowship in 2014, as the two MacArthur Fellows on faculty at UH.

The MacArthur Fellowship, also known as a “genius grant,” is one of the most prestigious and generous awards given to those who have demonstrated extraordinary talent and dedication in academia, writing, music, film and other creative fields, according to a release.

The 21 awarded individuals will receive the hefty grant with “no-strings-attached support” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

“This is an incredible — and quite unexpected — honor. I am suddenly short of words,” Garza said. “The MacArthur Fellowship will be instrumental in furthering ongoing projects: a series of geological writings exploring the relationship between territory and body on the borderlands and throughout the Americas. I am immensely grateful.”

Nominees for the fellowship are chosen from a variety of areas of interest and evaluated by a committee in the arts, sciences and humanities for their creative work.

“Dr. Rivera Garza’s outstanding scholarship and its undeniable impact certainly exemplifies the ideals of a MacArthur Fellow, which is one of the most prestigious honors a university professor can attain,” said Daniel P. O’Connor, Ph.D., interim dean of CLASS. “I congratulate her. We are very honored to have her among our faculty, and I look forward to her continuing leadership and accomplishments.”

Garza has been with UH since 2016, specializing in bilingual cross-genre creative writing.

“We live in the second-largest Spanish-speaking country

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