Hecht Wins 2022 Edgar M. Carlson Award

The psychological science professor has been teaching and researching at Gustavus since 2010.
Posted on May 23rd, 2022 by

Gustavus Adolphus College psychological science professor Dr. Lauren Hecht was named the 2022 winner of the Edgar M. Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching at the College’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 21. The award is the College’s highest award for teaching excellence.

In graduate school, after a long, serendipitous journey—supported by my family and faculty mentors in both undergraduate and graduate school—I finally discerned my career as a college professor. From that point on, I strove to be the best teacher and mentor for students—to be like those who have been awarded this honor before me,” Hecht said. “Across campus, faculty are doing amazing work, and every graduation, we recognize one of them. I remember them. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined joining their ranks.”

Political science professor Dr. Kate Knutson, the 2020 winner of the Carlson Award, introduced Hecht during the commencement ceremony.

“I have observed this person teach on more than one occasion and each time I review a syllabus and enter their classroom, I am inspired by the creativity, intentionality, and attention to detail that goes into each course and each class session,” Knutson said in her announcement before revealing Hecht as the winner. “I see students testing out ideas they read about in preparation for class and hear them engaging in spirited discussions over the material; you can almost taste the excitement for learning that is the direct result of the efforts of this professor in creating a safe, supportive, and rigorous learning environment.”

Dr. Lauren Hecht at commencement after being named the 2022 winner of the Edgar M. Carlson Award.

Hecht is a cognitive psychologist who studies sensation, perception, and attention. In addition to her teaching and research mentorship of undergraduate students at Gustavus, she currently serves as the director of the First-Term Seminar program. Hecht’s service on the Gustavus faculty’s Curriculum Committee, Faculty Development Committee, and Academic Operations Committee have given her a deep understanding of the College’s operations and the impact that decisions have on students, and she continually uses those insights to advocate for processes that support faculty mentoring and student engagement.

“Gustavus is filled with great teachers who care about students, so what sets [Dr. Hecht] apart?” Knutson continued. “[She] doesn’t just teach students. One colleague describes her as ‘a master at creating and sharing teaching approaches to help us all become better teachers.’ In fact, I would go so far as to say that many faculty perceive her to be the go-to person for questions about teaching, advising, and understanding the curriculum, particularly through our transition to a new general education curriculum over the past two years. As a colleague notes, [Lauren] has ‘wide tentacles of influence across campus,’ and she has used that influence to make us all better teachers and advisors.”

“I am fortunate to be at a college that recruits students who value intellectual curiosity and are willing to invest in their learning. The students are the reason I am successful. When I ask them to join me in trying a new way of teaching or mentoring, they are willing. When it fails, they are forgiving. And when it succeeds, they are growing,” Hecht said. “Every person in the Gustavus community faced at least one challenge this year—perhaps it was facing the realization that routines forged three years ago have become insufficient, or adjusting to a different system or procedure. Winning this award, this year, is an acknowledgement of resiliency, not only my own, but the grit and determination of the Gusties with whom I’ve worked across campus—from students, to staff, to colleagues.”

Hecht majored in psychology (with honors) and philosophy during her undergraduate experience at Albion College in Michigan. She holds a PhD in psychology from the University of Iowa. A member of the Gustavus community since 2010, Hecht previously taught courses at Grinnell College and the University of Iowa. Six of her former research students have gone on to earn (or are earning) their PhD, while numerous others have achieved advanced degrees in fields ranging from psychology to public health to food science to theology.

The Edgar M. Carlson Award was established by the Gustavus Board of Trustees in 1971 to honor former President Edgar Carlson for his years of distinguished leadership and in recognition of his commitment to academic excellence. Gustavus faculty, staff, administrators, and students nominate professors for this award, and each year at commencement a faculty member, selected by the Provost based on the recommendations of previous award recipients, is honored for their exceptional skill and effectiveness as an instructor.

Recent Carlson Award Recipients
2022: Lauren Hecht, Psychological Science
2021: Phil Bryant, English
2020: Kate Knutson, Political Science
2019: Margaret Bloch Qazi, Biology
2018: Greg Kaster, History
2017: Pamela Kittelson, Biology
2016: Eric Carlson, History
2015: David Obermiller, History
2014: Matt Panciera, Classics
2013: Rebecca Fremo, English
2012: Alisa Rosenthal, Political Science
2011: Barbara Zust, Nursing
2010: Leila Brammer, Communication Studies

A full list of past Carlson Award winners dating back to 1971 is available online.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin



  1. Sue Lorts says:

    Dr. Lauren Hecht , I am so very proud of ALL your achievements, success & inspiration for so many. Congratulations on an honor well deserved!

  2. […] year’s graduating class through college in a global pandemic. Psychological science professor Lauren Hecht, the winner of the 2022 Edgar M. Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching, was presented with her award by Kate Knutson, the 2020 Carlson Award […]

  3. Doris Brams/Lisa Brams-Ogle says:

    Congratulations on this prestigious award Lauren. I’m very proud of you!

  4. Joanne Hecht Adas says:

    Warmest congratulations on your great achievement Lauren!! So proud & happy for you!💐

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