GFU — Assistant professor of biblical studies Brian Doak and math professor Nick Willis honored

Tabbing a biblical studies professor who specializes in the Old Testament and Semitic languages and a math professor who returned to his alma mater to teach, George Fox University named Brian Doak and Nick Willis as its top undergraduate researcher and teacher for the 2013-2014 school year, respectively.

Doak, an assistant professor of biblical studies who holds a doctorate from Harvard University, received the Faculty Achievement Award for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship.Doak

Willis, who joined the George Fox faculty in 2009 after earning a bachelor’s degree from the school in 2000, was recipient of the Undergraduate Faculty Achievement Award for Teaching.

Doak joined the university in fall 2011 after teaching a range of courses on the Bible, classics and Hebrew language at Harvard (teaching fellow, 2008-2010) and Missouri State University (2004-2006).

He has conducted archaeological fieldwork with the Leon Levy expedition to Ashkelon (Israel) and served as an editorial assistant for “Harvard Theological Review.” In 2009, he was awarded a Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning Certificate of Distinction at Harvard University, and he is a recent recipient of the Aviram Prize (2012) for archaeological research.

“I feel completely humbled, knowing that our university is filled with professors who produce outstanding scholarship in addition to the full lives of teaching and service,” Doak said of winning the award. “For many of our faculty, engagement with professional development, students’ future careers, and/or recruiting requires a certain kind of scholarly brilliance in its own right, and because of their hard work I am honored to be able to use my own gifts for the traditional publishing and scholarly route.”

Doak will publish a book with Fortress Press this fall titled “Consider Leviathan: Narratives of Nature and the Self in Job.” He’s also been invited to the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany, to deliver a paper at a conference based on his book “The Last of the Rephaim: Conquest and Cataclysm in the Heroic Ages of Ancient Israel.”

He holds a doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (Hebrew Bible) from Harvard (2011), a master’s degree in religious studies from Missouri State University (2004) and a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies from Evangel University (2002).

Willis, an associate professor of mathematics, specializes in Willisteaching calculus, algebraic structures and introduction to proofs, among other courses. His primary area of research is in algebraic geometry, for which he has spent many years researching and classifying singular points of real polynomial curves.

“Mathematics has always been a big part of my life,” he said. “From solving logic problems to playing strategy games to solving a differential equation, math has always been challenging and fun. I love the quiet joy solving a difficult problem brings me, and I love helping students find that same joy in my classes.”

On the nomination form for the teaching award, Willis was praised for his “unusual devotion to each student in all of his classes” and for the fact he is “more than willing to provide guidance and structural explanations to his students.” Another student stated, “If you spend any time in math lab or hanging around with math majors, you will hear great things about Nick Willis. He is a dedicated professor and an integral part of George Fox.”

In addition to his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from George Fox, Willis holds both a doctorate (2005) and a master’s degree (2003) in the discipline from Texas Tech University.

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