The School of Science recently announced the winners of its 2016 Teaching Prizes for Graduate and Undergraduate Education. The prizes are awarded annually to School of Science faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in teaching over the past several years. Winners are chosen from nominations by their students or colleagues.
Michale Fee, the Glen V. and Phyllis F. Dorflinger Professor of Neuroscience, associate department head of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and an investigator at the McGovern Institute, was awarded the prize for undergraduate education for his course 9.40 (Introduction to Neural Computation), which covers how models and techniques from math, engineering, and computer programming are used to understand and describe the operations of the brain. Student nominators said that the material learned in this new course has been instrumental to their Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) work, as well as in their classes in Course 9 and beyond, and that they deeply appreciated Fee’s practical approach to the course material and his commitment to students’ mastery of it. The class is a cornerstone of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Science’s recently redesigned undergraduate curriculum, which Fee played an integral role in developing. The new tiered curriculum insures that advanced classes build on their prerequisites and cover more of the computational and mathematical skills that members of the neuroscience community have said were increasingly essential to research in neuroscience and other fields.
Elizabeth Nolan, an associate professor with tenure in the Department of Chemistry, was awarded the prize for graduate education for her courses 5.061 (Principles of Bioinorganic Chemistry) and 5.08 (Biological Chemistry II‚ a course that both undergraduate and graduate students take. Her students and co-teachers alike were impressed with her skill in distilling her thorough and detailed knowledge of the subject matter into clear and well-crafted lectures. Several students said that her lectures, which include lively classroom discussions of how to think critically about experimental design, had deep influence over the way they currently think about and do research. Nominators appreciated her infectious passion for biochemistry and her commitment to mentoring students, saying that “she is a role model for the art of successful teaching. She cares about the students and she cares about the science deeply.”
The School of Science welcomes Teaching Prize nominations for its faculty during the spring semester each academic year. For more information please visit the school's website.