Recipients of the COVID Transformational Online Instruction Contributions (TONIC) Awards Announced

The COVID-19 pandemic required rapid innovation on the UT Austin campus with a total transformation in the way students learn and how professors deliver instruction. Professional (non-tenure-track) instructional faculty and staff played a crucial role in this shift to a hybrid model of teaching and learning. In recognition of their creativity and excellence in teaching, the Provost’s Office awarded 45 professional-track instructional faculty and staff with the first-ever COVID Transformational Online Instruction Contributions (TONIC) Awards.

“The pandemic created so many challenges for teaching and learning. One of the brightest spots from this has been the creative and unique methods of online teaching and connecting that quickly evolved as a result of all the abrupt changes,” said senior vice provost of faculty affairs, Tasha Beretvas. “We’re so proud of the creativity, determination and dedication of our faculty and staff. And we wanted to particularly recognize and honor our professional-track instructional faculty and staff who went above and beyond to provide incredible learning experiences and a climate of care for our students.”

The TONIC Awards reward innovation and excellence through the creation of impressive pedagogical resources, systems or programs for the transformation of online instruction in response to COVID-19. The Awards were also intended to reward contributions that enhanced student engagement and community while maintaining inclusive and equitable access for all learners.

Recipients of the award will receive $1,000 and are invited to participate in a panel presentation for the Faculty Innovation Center’s Technology-Enhanced Learning Symposium in May 2021.

Full list of TONIC recipients

Deborah Hempel-Medina , Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering

D’Arcy Randall ,  Chemical Engineering

Nina Telang,  Electrical and Computer Engineering

Thomas Connolly, Aerospace,  Engineering & Engineering, Mechanics, Mechanical Engineering


Jennifer Smith, Curriculum & Instruction

Eric McMaster, Art and Art History

Erica Gionfriddo, Theatre and Dance

JE Johnson, Texas Performing Arts

Honoria Starbuck, Arts and Entertainment Technologies

Eli Durst, Art and Art History

Tony Edwards, Music

Kelcey Gray, Design

MJ Johns, Arts and Entertainment Technologies

Marina Alexandrova, Slavic & Eurasian Studies

Yasmina Fawaz, French & Italian

Heather Rice Slavic & Eurasian Studies

Stacy Sparks, Chemistry

Andrei Straumanis, Chemistry

Jennifer Austin, Mathematics

Brandon Campitelli, STEM Instruction Consultant

Keely Finkelstein, Astronomy

Cynthia Labrake, Biology Instruction Office

Kristin Patterson, Biology Instruction Office

K. Sata Sathasivan, Biology Instructional Office

Soo Hyun Yang, Natural Sciences

Elizabeth Bradbury, Biology Instruction Office

Katherine Bruner, Biology Instruction Office

Heather Quimby, Human Development and Family Sciences

Josh Beckham, Natural Sciences

Ann Thijs, Biology Instruction Office

Gwendolyn Stovall, Freshman Research Initiative


Anne Braseby, Faculty Innovation Center

Chad Fulton, Faculty Innovation Center

Matthew Russell, Faculty Innovation Center

Sarah Schoonhoven, Faculty Innovation Center

Kathleen Holloway, Faculty Innovation Center/Graduate Student

Kaitlyn Rodriguez Faculty Innovation Center/Graduate Student

David Quintanilla, Business, Government and Society

Evgenia Prilipko, Management

John Tuttle, Information, Risk, and Operations Management

Mirza Lugo-Neris, Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Benjamin Bays, Radio-Television-Film

Katharine West, Journalism and Media

Dina Ramgolam Communication Studies


Veronica Walker