Texas Tech University

New Teaching Academy Members

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 Angela Lumpkin

Ayrton Bernussi

What inspires me to teach—a lifelong passion for learning and desire to share this passion with students. My life has been filled with and enriched by reading books. While others may not embrace reading as I do, I want to share this love of learning with my students. I want them to expand their horizons, benefit from the wealth of knowledge in our world, and value the importance of learning throughout their lives.

Changzhi Li

Keith Brigham

I am inspired to teach because of the success of my students and the knowledge I learn from them. As an engineering faculty, it is very rewarding to help students become successful in professional development. On the other hand, I believe a good engineering educator must continue to evolve, developing new methods and materials that incorporate the current academic and industrial trends. Teaching is an excellent opportunity for me to learn and enrich myself with the state of the art. 

Curtis Bauer

Curtis Bauer

I’m inspired by possibility and the unexpected. Go for a walk, pull out your ear buds and listen to the world, have conversations with books and people, I tell my students. These activities, in one way or another, enter into what I love about teaching, that some of our most important lessons come from unanticipated encounters, and I encourage the students I work with to be open to these lessons. 

David Dees

David Dees

As a faculty member in the School of Music, I am inspired by the process of making music with my students. It is tremendously gratifying to bring students and music together, and to hear the musical stories that students can tell.  Our instrument is the saxophone and we work hard to get control of it – but at the end of the day it’s the musical language that fascinates us.  

David Doerfert

David Doerfert

Every day, every class is a chance for me to make a positive difference.  I believe education is life changing and a large part of my responsibility is to help learners realize the potential they do not know they have while challenging them to pursue excellence.  As I participate in a student’s discovery of their own gifts, I witness the evolution of their behavior, attitudes, and thinking.  Through the struggles to the ah-ha moments and laughter, I teach because it is what I am meant to do

David Forrest

David Forrest

Teaching allows me to pay forward the guidance and inspiration I have received from teachers, family, and friends in my life.  Joining students in the process of discovery is simultaneously exciting, rewarding, and humbling.  I have learned that the more I listen to my students, the deeper learning we all experience.

Dustin Benham

Dustin Benham

What inspires me to teach:  My belief in the power of education to transform lives and improve the world.

Elizabeth (Liz) Karam

Liz Karam

My inspiration to teach comes from my students. My challenge, every semester, is to build an inclusive learning environment where all students can thrive and recognize the value in their unique contributions to our educational community. We do this by engaging one another, confronting our biases, and building connections as we dive into the course material. It is a privilege to share in the educational journeys of my students and to support them as they move into the next phase of their professional or educational lives.

Elizabeth Trejos-Castillo

Trejos Castillo

I’m a curious learner. Teaching to me represents one of the greatest opportunities to learn from others and share knowledge with others while fostering positive relationships. Being an educator is having the privilege to be a “door opener” for the students and grow together with them—grow in knowledge and understanding, but also as compassionate human beings.

Kristi Gaines


I find inspiration in helping students consider alternative approaches for problem-solving and discovery.  Teaching provides a means for an exchange of ideas by engaging students and faculty from diverse backgrounds. I welcome the opportunity to employ different strategies for inclusion in the classroom to equip students to be part of an increasingly diverse workforce.

Lionel (Bill) Poirier


Teaching is in my blood, both literally and figuratively.  I come from a large extended family, most of whom are teachers. One of my uncles received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching. So I grew up learning from some of the best, and can easily point to them for many inspiring examples.  Today, what inspires me most is helping students genuinely master difficult concepts that they themselves believe are beyond their capabilities. But the urge to teach is deeper than this; for me it is something innate, something visceral and subconscious that has always just been there. 

Robert Cox

Robert Cox

Teaching and learning are two sides of the same activity. I get excited about teaching because I get excited about learning! Just as a coin MUST have two sides to exist, teaching and learning exist together or not at all. When teaching and learning are most inspiring, it is because encountering new ideas, applying new information, and developing new abilities depend on building new relationships, and all are fundamental to what makes us human!

Tara Stephens


As a teacher of school psychology graduate students, I influence the behavior of scientist-practitioners who will affect the education and quality of life of thousands of public school children.  Many children experience emotional, behavioral, and psychosocial problems that affect their education and need the support of school psychologists who are, unfortunately, in short supply.  These children inspire me to face the many challenges of teaching, as the quality of what occurs in my classroom affects the quality of theirs.   

Wendy Humphrey


Playing a role in educating future lawyers is inspirational! My background is in both education and law, and I enjoy teaching law students the core knowledge and skills that are essential for becoming an ethical lawyer. As a professor, I employ a broad repertoire of creative teaching techniques to challenge a wide range of learners. Providing my students with meaningful feedback to promote their learning both inside and outside of the classroom is also inspirational.


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