2011 Graduate Excellence Award winners
March 24, 2011Tweet
Called a stellar teacher by her nominators, Lori Anderson continuously receives outstanding evaluations from students and is an effective communicator who has the ability to simplify complex concepts into understandable terms for students. A doctoral student in economics, she has been a teaching assistant for six semesters for courses ranging from introductory to advanced levels. Her nominators commend her for developing an upper-level health economics course and for bringing her research in health issues into the classroom to inform discussions. Her nominators write that she has the ability to connect students to the relevance of what she is teaching and to the importance of economics in their lives, but her highest praise comes from students themselves, who note that she readily makes herself available during office hours and appointments. One writes: “I was inspired by her knowledge of the subject, her ability to challenge her students intellectually, and I looked up to her as a mentor and as a role model.”
A teaching assistant for four courses and instructor of record for six more, political science doctoral candidate Ian Farrell has spanned the range of teaching from introductory lecture courses to intense senior seminars, and from the traditional classroom environment to distance learning. At all levels, he has established himself as a universally respected teacher. His nominators write that he devises creative methods to reinforce material and delve further into the course subject, spending extra time to craft engaging and informative classes. He uses diverse methods including simulations to support his lectures and brings an impressive knowledge and understanding of current events to the classroom, providing timely real-world examples to help students see the relevance of their studies. His nominators also note that he develops writing assignments that build upon the text and his lectures, and provides students with detailed comments to strengthen their work. His good, critical mind, infectious enthusiasm for politics and understanding of students serves him well in the classroom.
Tamkin Hussain, a doctoral student in comparative literature, inspires her students, connecting with them and holding their attention. She herself writes that her teaching goal is to approach reading and writing with such intensity that the student is inspired to participate voluntarily. She has taught 10 classes and her nominators write that she is able to combine high demands and intense student enthusiasm and participation via her love and mastery of the material she teaches; her students are challenged yet captivated. Her students write that she is skilled in guiding students to reach a specific conclusion, without simply giving them the information, and she is flawless in making dry texts engaging. They also note her willingness to help when they have questions. One student writes of her teaching: “I was able to reach deeper meanings within texts and analyze them from a critical lens. This allowed me to develop my own interpretations and rethink ideas … with much greater clarity.”
Former high-school English teacher and Spanish instructor Eileen Maguire, now a doctoral student in English, is a versatile teacher who has had great success as a teaching assistant and instructor of record for some of the most challenging courses in the English major. With an ability to lead intelligent, focused discussions that help students learn, she also aids students in learning to read critically and write deft analyses of the texts. Her nominators write that she has the intellectual passion for her subject and the gift for making it relevant and clear to students. They add that her warm, engaging style motivates even the most reticent students to participate actively in class. Her nominators and students also commend her for providing extensive feedback to students on their writing, and being available after hours to help students with questions. Her students write that she is passionate, approachable, creative and energetic. She captures their attention; and she makes them better thinkers and writers.
Emilly Obuya, a doctoral student in chemistry, teaches students both in the classroom and in the laboratory, and is known as a mentor and motivator. Her nominators and students praise her patience, as well as her ability to stimulate debate and drive the need for critical thinking. She has tutored for the EOP Tutorial Center, where students poured in to meet with her − proof of her talent for making difficult material understandable for students. As Head TA, and then instructor of record, she has been organized, conscientious and a role model for others, always demonstrating caring professionalism, maturity and a solid knowledge of chemistry. Students comment on her passion for learning, her ability to make science fun and her willingness to go the extra mile. One writes: “She has the right personality for teaching and one that sparks interest in the things being taught. I could only hope to learn from more people like her in my future endeavors.”
Though he sets high expectations for his students, Christopher Pearl is sought after as a teacher. His nominators write that students are wild about him and follow him from section to section. A doctoral student in history, he uses a thesis-based approach in class, shaping questions and discussion points around a particular argument or theme. He also brings history to life through plays, music, games and use of technology, willingly sharing his successful methods with other teaching assistants. His nominators note that he leads a class with confidence, yet allows students space to find a comfortable level of participation, adding that his insights and depth of knowledge stun them. His students praise his dedication and the active role he takes in their learning, writing that his intensity for the material and his determination to make sure every student understands the subject is infectious, motivating them to match his intensity so they would not disappoint such a spirited and effective teacher.
With a creative, attentive and rigorous teaching style, doctoral student in philosophy Regan Rule is able to engage students at all levels – from novice to well-read. Her nominators write that she uses a diversity of methods to present course material, along with creative and worthwhile assignments, and maintains complete control of the material and of the class. They add that she has a talent for communicating with even the most difficult students very effectively. As a testament to her skills, she has been selected for two years by the Graduate Student Organization to run its Fall Teaching Orientation, allowing her to model the successes she has in engaging students in class. Her dedication to students is steadfast and her students admire her ability to explain difficult concepts. One writes: “Regan’s greatest strength is her ability to make extremely difficult subject matter accessible to her students. She works closely with the text, guiding her students to make their own interpretations of the material.”
Already the senior author of three empirical papers, co-author of six others and with seven manuscripts in preparation, clinical psychology doctoral candidate Sean Barnes is making his mark in the study of mindfulness, hypnosis, depression and suicide. He has made 18 research presentations and also has put his collaborative spirit to use, having worked with the Office of Student Affairs Assessment and Strategic Initiatives as well as the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment to analyze housing options and critical thinking assessment programs, respectively. His nominators all note his advanced analytical abilities, as well as his willingness to lend his knowledge and skills to projects. One writes that he is one of the best overall students he has been privileged to train. Though his research agenda is an ambitious one – both well designed and comprehensive – he devotes the necessary time and talent to it, resulting in important theoretical and clinical implications that will aid people with serious psychological disorders.
A doctoral candidate in English and creative writing, Barrett Bowlin has published fiction in three highly selective journals: Minnesota Review, Meridian and Salt Hill, and non-fiction in Composition Forum. He also has acquired significant editorial and professional experience, having been on the staff of The Manhattan Mercury and The Arkansas Traveler, and served as editor-in-chief of literary journals including the Harpur Palate, Touchstone, The Aux Arc Review and Exposure: a Magazine for the Arts, as well as lead editor for Binghamton Writes: a Journal of Undergraduate Composition. His nominators write that he is organized and knowledgeable, and conducts incredible research for his writing. Others note that there is nothing ho-hum about his writing – it is fresh, inventive, sometimes futuristic, and always so sharp, witty and full of poignancy. Others add that his writing holds a raw and explosive energy that is lyrical yet crackling with vivid details, even as it is emotionally true, resonant and unique, and the work of a notable, emerging voice.
Bin Fang’s research has already spawned more than 11 research articles in prestigious peer-reviewed journals including Electrochemistry Communications, Electrochimica Acta and the Journal of Power Sources – three with her as lead author – and has seen her file a patent application for co-inventing a new fuel cell membrane electrode assembly technology. Working toward her doctorate in materials science and engineering, she has presented at several national and international meetings and has made significant contributions to the understanding of cathode materials in fuel cell and lithium-air batteries. Her nominators write that she has demonstrated outstanding analytical thinking abilities, hands-on laboratory skills and the capability to solve complex scientific problems. Called hard working, creative and productive with clearly defined objectives and a broad interest in both fundamental and practical applications, she is collegial and has a keen interest in nanotechnology and green energy. She has expanded the depth of the research program in her department and brings originality and imagination to her research.
Karen Jaunarajs, a doctoral candidate in behavioral neuroscience, investigates the development of neural mechanisms that underlie depression and anxiety in Parkinson’s disease. Her goal is to improve the treatment of mood disorders, and ultimately the quality of life, in Parkinson’s disease patients. As lead author on four articles published in respected journals including Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Behavioural Pharmacology, Neuroreport and Synapse, as well as seven other co-authored articles, she has presented at nearly 20 conferences. Her nominators write that her work is both technically and theoretically challenging, focusing on an understudied issue, and she has blazed her own research path, almost single-handedly leading the laboratory in a new and exciting direction that will undoubtedly have an impact on our understanding and treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Others note that what sets her apart is her ability to design, execute and write up novel research with clarity and that she possesses all of the critical ingredients for success as a researcher.
With a dissertation that is currently in preparation as a book manuscript, and that has been called a truly remarkable piece of philosophical and scholarly work, doctoral candidate in philosophy Lewis Trelawny-Cassity is destined to become one of the leaders in the interpretation of ancient Greek philosophy. His dissertation focuses on Plato, yet his research branches out to projects on Aristophanes, Plutarch and Aristotle. He has published in journals including The Journal of the Society for Greek Political Thought, The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter, The Classical Bulletin and Polis, and has presented at over a dozen conferences. His nominators write that he has a very active research trajectory, demonstrating interest in and acceptance of his ideas in several demanding scholarly audiences. They also note that he is an intellectually talented scholar with superb skills including excellent Greek, reading knowledge of other languages, unusual knowledge of a wide range of Greek literature and a sophisticated command of contemporary philosophy.
Bridgid Wanjala is a doctoral student in chemistry who is designing, synthesizing, processing and characterizing catalytic nanocomposite materials for fuel cell and chemical sensing applications. With 10 peer-reviewed articles to her credit – three as lead author – in journals including Chemistry of Materials, the Journal of Physical Chemistry-C and the Journal of Materials Chemistry. She has also co-authored one book chapter and three manuscripts that are currently under review, has presented at several major conferences and has one patent filing. Her nominators write that she has made significant contributions to the field of nanostructured catalysts, noting that her pioneering work has revealed new physical insights into the synergistic properties of multimetallic nanoparticle catalysts in terms of size, composition and phase parameters that will have a significant impact on the design of advanced, state-of-the-art catalysts for green energy applications. They add that her independent experimentation, well-informed collaborative spirit and strong work ethic are testimony to her excellence as a researcher.
Service and Outreach
Translation studies doctoral student Erin Riddle has a lengthy and varied record of service that extends well beyond the boundaries of campus. A partial listing of her activities includes: lead organizer of the annual Binghamton-Amherst Graduate Student Translation Studies conference; an editor for The Broome Review and an editor of Crossings: A Counter-disciplinary Journal; organizer of a special session for the Modern Language Association Annual Convention that has been designated a Presidential Theme session; organizer of a TRIP Speaker Series; and officer of the Translation Graduate Student Organization. She has tutored for the Educational Opportunity Program and in the community, as well as for Literacy Volunteers. Her commitment to the environment is also strong, and she volunteers for the Sierra Club, organizing retreats and maintaining the club’s listserv and website. Her nominators write that she has delivered excellent and profound work and they are impressed with how she has participated in academic life even as she has focused on research, teaching and service.
A master’s student in both public administration and social work, Teresa Teeple has immersed herself in service activities, co-facilitating two service-learning trips to New Orleans to provide long-term disaster mental health outreach, as well as working locally as coordinator of Day of Service volunteer projects for social work students, and serving as an officer of the MSW Graduate Student Organization. Selected for the Hartford Partnership Program for Aging Education, she worked with older adults promoting connections for isolated senior citizens; also selected for the SHARE program, she worked with children dealing with mental health issues. Her nominators write that she is able to integrate her classroom-based education with her field experiences in policy, program development and direct practice. They add that she is effective as a change-agent, with a patient yet forthcoming style that serves her well when communicating with individuals from all backgrounds as she brings people together to fundraise, problem-solve, or advocate on behalf of those in need.