Lauren Christiansen-Lindquist Receives Provost’s Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Education

May 9, 2024
Lauren Christiansen-Lindquist

By Kelly Jordan

An emphasis on excellence in teaching and research is central to the mission of the Rollins School of Public Health. This is exemplified each spring as several students, faculty, and staff are recognized with awards for their leadership, research, and teaching. Among the most prestigious teaching awards offered at Emory University is the Provost’s Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Education.

Extended to a faculty member from each of the university’s seven graduate and professional schools who “excel as teachers within formal and informal educational settings,” this year’s recipient from Rollins is Lauren Christiansen-Lindquist, PhD, assistant teaching professor.

“Teaching is at the core of all that I do (in the classroom, mentoring, public health practice, and certainly parenting!), and it is such an honor to be recognized for something that is so close to my heart,” says Christiansen-Lindquist. “It’s a privilege to get to share my love of epidemiology with our students and equip them with the tools they need to address public health problems that are meaningful to them.”

Finding Passion, Purpose Through Teaching

Christiansen-Lindquist developed her love for teaching serendipitously. While she was pursuing her PhD in epidemiology, she dreaded the teaching assistantship required of the program due to her fear of public speaking.

“A few weeks into my first semester as a teaching assistant, I became more comfortable talking in front of the class, and quickly learned that not only did I love epidemiology, but I wanted everyone else to love it as much as I did. Since then, I've devoted much of my career to making complex epidemiologic concepts accessible.”

Among Christiansen-Lindquist’s many accomplishments articulated in her nomination letter by Timothy L. Lash, DSc, O. Wayne Rollins Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology and Chair, include her contributions to the Department of Epidemiology as director of graduate studies. Through this role, which she has held since 2019, Christiansen-Lindquist led the department’s transition to remote learning during the pandemic, switch to hybrid learning in 2020-2021, and return to a primarily in-person model in 2021-2022.

She co-led the development of new diversity, equity, and inclusion competencies that are now being incorporated into the department’s curriculum and has served as a mentor for students in the department. Earlier this spring, Christiansen-Lindquist also added “textbook author” to her resume with the release of Fundamentals of Epidemiology, co-authored with Kristin Wall, PhD (who was selected as one of this year’s Department of Epidemiology Distinguished Teaching Award winners).

Approaching Learning with Empathy, Care

Lash noted Christiansen-Lindquist has taught 13 graduate or undergraduate courses in epidemiology at a range of levels and calls her ability to teach students with a breadth of foundational knowledge, “remarkable.”

He writes, “For each course, her lectures and graded evaluations are well-calibrated to the audience’s readiness to learn and to the size of the classroom. I have never known anyone else who has attempted to teach across this spectrum, let alone mastered the material and teaching at all levels. It is truly an exceptional skill set. Student evaluations of all these courses uniformly praise their learning experiences.”

Christiansen-Lindquist’s teaching also extends to her role as the mother of three young boys, whose at-home learning she shepherded throughout the pandemic. Lash notes that she also, “helped with education and programming at her sons’ schools throughout the pandemic, and co-developed the plans for pandemic management at their schools for fall 2021.”

Christiansen-Lindquist’s warmth and thoughtfulness in how she approaches her students and delivers course content are among many of her qualities applauded by students in their glowing course evaluations.

“Dr. Christiansen-Lindquist is an excellent instructor, mentor, colleague, and even friend,” writes MPH student Caroline Beasley in their nomination letter. “There are so many faculty at Rollins who stand out to me and are deserving of an award like this one, but I think it speaks volumes that Dr. Christiansen-Lindquist is the one who came first to mind for me.” 

Previous testaments to Christiansen-Lindquist’s teaching excellence include her receipt of the 2023 Tom Koepsell & Noel Weiss Excellence in Education Award, the Department of Epidemiology’s Distinguished Teaching Award (2019), and Rollins Student Government Association Professor of the Year (2016 and 2021).