Henry Kunerth, EEB student, amongst those winning A & S teaching awards

By: Yvette Lisa Ndlovu,  A&S Communications
May 15, 2019

College of Arts & Sciences graduate students were recognized earlier this month at a reception honoring their skills as teaching assistants and mentors to undergraduate students.

“The graduate students being honored received stellar teaching evaluations and strong recommendations from their undergraduates and from faculty,” said Michael Goldstein, associate professor of psychology.  “They created innovative courses in their departments, the Freshman Writing Seminars or the Writing in the Majors program. They were willing to get out from behind the podium and try new methods of instruction.”

The awards are supported by alumni gifts and recognize innovative teaching, student counseling, classroom presence, preparation, administration and the development of new courses. Ray Jayawardhana, the Harold Tanner Dean of Arts & Sciences, presented the awards at a ceremony May 8 in Goldwin Smith Hall.

The Russell Distinguished Teaching Award is intended for professorial faculty, lecturers, senior lecturers and teaching assistants who have demonstrated their devotion to teaching. Four teaching assistants receive $1,500 and their departments receive $500 to be used to further undergraduate teaching and learning.

The Dean’s Prize for Distinguished Teaching and the Stephen and Margery Russell Distinguished Teaching Award are awarded specifically to teaching assistants who have demonstrated their devotion to undergraduate teaching. Four $500 and $1,000 awards are given each year.

The Deanne Gebell Gitner ‘66 and Family Annual Prize for Teaching Assistants honors teaching assistants who have demonstrated their devotion to undergraduate teaching. Three $1,000 prizes are awarded each year.

“It’s touching to know that both students and faculty took the time to write letters about my teaching,” said Maria Modanu, a graduate student teacher in neurobiology and behavior. “It has been a real pleasure teaching at Cornell because undergraduates are so motivated and hardworking, the calibre of graduate students TAs is outstanding and the faculty are approachable and devote a great amount of effort intro breaking down complex concepts.”

“Looking at the letters from undergraduates, you can see that these graduate students changed lives,” Goldstein said. “Being a stellar researcher and an engaging teacher at the same time requires a great deal of dedication, organization and focus.”

The Stephen and Margery Russell Distinguished Teaching Award went to:

  • Samantha Carouso-Peck, psychology
  • Jihyun Kim, music
  • Henry Kunerth, evolutionary biology & behavior (pictured above on far left)
  • Maria Modanu, neurobiology and behavior

The Dean’s Prize for Distinguished Teaching went to:

  • Grace Greiner, English
  • Cody Duell, physics
  • Roy Moyal, psychology
  • ​Nina Obermeier, government

The Deanne Gebell Gitner ‘66 and Family Annual Prize for Teaching Assistants

  • Tyler A. Anderson, physics
  • Becky Lu, English
  • ​Maru Sarazole, math