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Excellence in Teaching Award

2018 Recipients (counterclockwise starting top left): Sarah Kaptur, Ian Russell, Jonathan Lande, and Justin Pombrio.2018 Recipients (counterclockwise starting top left): Sarah Kaptur, Ian Russell, Jonathan Lande, and Justin Pombrio.The Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes outstanding pedagogical achievement by a Brown University graduate student. The Graduate School will bestow up to four awards. Each year, the awards and honoraria are given out at the University Awards ceremony, which is held in early May.

Award criteria include:

  1. Teaching that influences, motivates and inspires students to learn and fosters independent learning. Indicated by the graduate student's feedback to students on class assignments and how this feedback is consonant with course goals, or through statements regarding the graduate student's pedagogical technique. 
  2. Development of curriculum and resources that promote student learning. A demonstration of the graduate student's use of imaginative instructional resources, a research-inspired approach to teaching, a current knowledge of the field, and the ability to communicate clear objectives and expectations for student learning. 
  3. Development of students as individual learners. Evidence that the graduate student is responsive and supportive to the diversity among his or her students, and that assessment methods are similarly adapted.

All nominations are reviewed by the Graduate Council, which also makes final determinations regarding the winners.

Nomination process and requirements: 
The award is open to current or former teaching assistants or teaching fellows in any graduate program. Each candidate must be nominated by his or her program, and each program may submit only one nomination. The deadline for nominations is the first business day of April. Please send nominations to Associate Dean Thomas A. Lewis and copy Barbara Bennett.

Nominations require: A nomination letter, and as many as three additional letters of support from other program faculty. If the nomination letter is not from the Director of Graduate Study, the DGS should at least provide a brief letter of endorsement.

In addition, nominations typically include two or more of the following:

  • A first-hand account of a class or lab visit by a faculty member from the program or from another independent observer (this account may be one of the additional letters of support from faculty).
  • A letter of support from a former student.
  • A faculty member’s written summary account of the student evaluations of the instructor. (If such a letter is provided, copies of the evaluations themselves may be supplied; otherwise, please do not include the undergraduate student evaluations.)
  • Other evidence of pedagogical innovation, such as course materials developed by the nominee.


Winners of the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching include:

2018
Sarah Elizabeth Kaptur, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry
Jonathan Lande, History
Justin L. Pombrio, Computer Science
Ian M. Russell, Hispanic Studies

2017
Carolyn Bergonzo, Literary Arts
Junkyung Kim, Cognitive Science
Ruth W. Lo, History of Art and Architecture
Silvia Cabral Teresa, Portuguese and Brazilian Studies

2016
Nicholas A. Friesner, Religious Studies
Magnus Pharao Hansen, Anthropology
Natalie E. Lozinski-Veach, Comparative Literature
Cassady E.Rupert, Biomedical Engineering

2015
Andrea Elizabeth Flores
Jonathan E. Sozek 

2014
Angela S. Allan, English
Michael Powers, German Studies 

2013
Anna F. Bialek, Religious Studies
Jason M. Scimeca, Cognitive Science

2012
Jeffrey W. Miller, Applied Mathematics

2011
Christopher Holmes, English

2010
Rex P. Nielson, Portuguese and Brazilian Studies

2009
Jason Zysk, English

2008
Eugenie Brinkema, Modern Culture and Media
Corey McEleney, English

2007
Kerin Holt, English
Maria del Mar Patron Vazquez, Hispanic Studies

2006
Angel Otero-Blanco, Hispanic Studies
Wendy Lee, English

2005
Julian Ling-Chao Wong, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry
Kira Lawrence, Geological Sciences

2004
Jennifer Rains, Hispanic Studies 
Malhar Nabar, Economics