The 2020-2021 Dean’s Outstanding Teaching Assistant Prize for the best performance by a BSD graduate student who is TAing in fulfillment of the Divisional Teaching Requirement was awarded to Silas Busch. In addition, Divisional Teaching Assistant Awards went to Hannah Farrell, Suzy Hur, Erik McIntire, and Iva Veseli.
Silas Busch is a fourth-year student in the program in Neurobiology. He receives the prize in recognition of his teaching assistantship in NSCI 21750, Ethics through a Neurobiological Lens, in Winter 2021. The course director for the course, Peggy Mason, noted that the students loved Silas and were as happy to work with him as with her. He is cited because of the very strong support from the students in the class, who commended him for his professionalism, knowledgeability, and his ability to facilitate fruitful and meaningful discussions. His knowledge of both neurobiology and philosophy was deeply appreciated by the students, who also commended him for his humility when talking about the subject matter. He gave prompt and constructive feedback on assignments, and encouraged students to express their opinions, re-think them, and push the boundaries of their beliefs. He created a safe space for students of differing identities, and interrogated implicitly ableist ideas. He worked with Professor Mason to develop the course, and enabled students to feel safe in the structure of the course even though it was a new experience for everyone involved, with one student commenting, “Silas really helped me feel comfortable in uncertainty….”
The Divisional Teaching Assistantship Award
Hannah Farrell is a third-year student in the program on Integrative Biology. She shares the Divisional Teaching Assistantship Award for her teaching assistantship in BIOS 12117, The 3.5 Billion Year History of the Human Body. She was cited for friendly, inclusive, and approachable attitude during the course, her excellent and accessible lecture, her ability to contextualize unfamiliar terms and concepts, and her depth of knowledge and high degree of passion for the material. Her students appreciated her interactions in breakout rooms, her availability for appointments, and her kindness.
Suzy Hur is a fourth-year student in Development, Regeneration, and Stem Cell Biology. She shares the Divisional Teaching Assistantship Award for her teaching in the undergraduate course Biological Systems, BIOS 20235, in Winter 2021. Among the many comments, she was notably cited for her in-depth knowledge of the material, her ability to break down difficult material into engaging segments, and explaining the material in simple and understandable ways. Her students also complimented her on her strong advocacy for the students, on motivating them to stop doubting themselves, and constantly encouraging them to keep working on understanding the concepts and material of the course.
Erik McIntire is a third-yearstudent in the Human Genetics program. He shares the Divisional Teaching Assistantship Award for his outstanding contributions in two teaching assistantships, Introduction to Statistical Genetics, HGEN 47100, in Winter 2021, and Genomics and Systems Biology, HGEN 47300, in Spring 2021. He was commended for his devotion to teaching, for his knowledge of the course material, and his ability to keep discussion sections flowing smoothly. Students found that his answers to questions were helpful and not condescending, that he helped them discover possible answers as a group, and that he went out of his way to be available and conversation outside of office hours and class – which was very important during the pandemic and the resulting social isolation. He was a positive impact on his students, and commended students when they did good work as well as giving corrections in a way that helped them think through the problems involved.
Iva Veseli is a fourth-year student in Biophysical Sciences. She shares the Divisional Teaching Assistantship Award for two teaching assistantships in 2020-2021: in Autumn 2020, BPHS 35001, Synthesis and Modification, and in Spring 2021, BIOS 25420, Microbioal ‘Omics. She was cited for her extreme preparation for both lecture and lab, with beginning students finding the material perfectly paced, thoughtful, and engaging. She was able to explain concepts clearly, make the material exciting and accessible, and was able to lead students to discover the answers to questions themselves. Students felt that she genuinely had their learning at the center of her focus. She was kind, patient, and approachable.
The BSD teaching prize was established in 1996 by the faculty Committee on Teaching Assistants in appreciation and recognition of the enthusiasm and effort that graduate students put into their early teaching experiences. Award of the prize is based on nominations by the students in the course taught by the TA. This year, the decisions were very difficult, as nearly 120 teaching assistants were nominated by their students for the Prize, with over 450 total votes; this is a tribute to the dedication of our graduate students as they take on the role of teaching assistant, and illustrating the value placed on teaching in the BSD. Congratulations to all winners!