BIOE Announces Spring 2023 Instructional Impact Awards
The Fischell Department of Bioengineering (BIOE) announced the three recipients of the Instructional Impact Awards for the spring 2023 semester. Instructional Impact Award recipients are student-nominated, giving students the opportunity to recognize a faculty member, a graduate teaching assistant (GTA), and an undergraduate teaching fellow (UTF) who has positively impacted their academic experience.
BIOE lecturer Brian Blair was awarded the Faculty Instructional Impact Award for his dedication to student success. The award is presented to a faculty member who makes a strong impact in student knowledge, student skill sets, student engagement, and students’ inspiration and motivation to succeed.
“To receive the award is really rewarding, not just for the accolade but to know I’m connecting with students,” says Blair. “That's why I love teaching: connecting with and mentoring the next generation.”
Blair was nominated by students in his BIOE120: Biology for Engineers, BIOE121: Biology for Engineers Laboratory, and BIOE488A: Research Methods in Bioengineering, Molecular Biology courses. Students across all three classes recognized Blair for his patient, supportive, and fun approach to teaching. They commended him for fostering an engaging learning environment in which all students felt comfortable participating and asking questions. Nominators unanimously and adamantly said they could tell that Blair wanted them to succeed.
Most freshmen students are at some time instructed by Blair because he teaches introductory classes like BIOE120 and BIOE121. “When I'm teaching those introductory courses,” says Blair, “I’m guiding students in the transition from where they were before, be it high school, junior college, or another institution.” Finding the middle ground can be difficult when teaching students with such a wide range of backgrounds and educational experiences, he explains. To meet this challenge, Blair focuses on helping students think like engineers—he prioritizes developing problem solving skills rather than memorizing formulas and facts. “Teaching them how to think as an engineer and scientist is not something you can just explain in a lecture. I try to challenge everyone to know how to gather information, and how to apply that information to innovate and solve the problem.”
Blair says that his personal teaching philosophy is one that aligns well with BIOE values. “The department values having everyone feel that they have a voice, that they can contribute, and that they are in the right place for their passions,” he says. “The department is unique in STEM in that we want to guide students to being the engineers of the future—to being our peers.”
Ph.D. student Anjana Hevaganinge was awarded the Graduate Teaching Assistant Instructional Impact Award. The award is presented to a GTA who demonstrates a high level of dedication to student success.
"The department is unique in STEM in that we want to guide students to being the engineers of the future—to being our peers."
Hevaganinge was nominated for this award in recognition of her support of the department over the past 2022–2023 school year, including stepping up to help during a TA shortage in fall 2022 and culminating in mentoring two BIOE486: Capstone Design team this spring. Working with teams on a weekly basis, she helped students plan experiments and troubleshoot code. She guided one team to use HSI imaging equipment and taught them AI/Deep Learning algorithms and programming; that project earned excellent results and is expected to eventually yield a journal publication and a patent.
“I was very proud and happy to receive this award!” she says. “I really enjoy mentoring the students.”
Hevaganinge received her BA from BIOE in 2019 and is currently a data science and automation engineering graduate student. She is a member of Professor Yang Tao’s Bio-Imaging and Machine Vision Lab, which focuses on the application of machine vision to industrial automation, food processing, and biomedical and agriculture applications. She has worked on a variety of projects, including an automated crab-picking robotic system.
Udit Gupta, an incoming BIOE senior and a member of Professor Kimberly Stroka’s Cell and Microenvironment Engineering Lab,was awarded the Undergraduate Teaching Fellow Instructional Impact Award. The award is presented to a UTF who makes a strong impact in students’ ability to be successful in a course and who communicates the course material in ways that positively supplements the instructor and course materials.
“I feel very thankful for receiving this award,” says Gupta, “and glad that I could effectively help the students.”
Gupta was recognized by students in BIOE372: Biostatistics for Experimental Design and Data Analysis, for which he provided instruction on the MATLAB portion of the course. Students appreciated that he was consistently on time and prepared for his discussion; was available to answer questions during and outside of discussion sessions; was willing to slow down and ensure students truly understood each concept; and that he provided valuable and constructive feedback. Students described Gupta as having a deep passion for helping others, which he demonstrated through his teaching.
“Udit really took the initiative in providing the best possible support to students,” says Beatrizc Kondo, Senior Lecturer of BIOE372. “He was proactive and very supportive. I’m so glad they recognized this and nominated him!”
Published July 14, 2023