BIOE Announces Spring 2024 Instructional Impact Awards

The Fischell Department of Bioengineering (BIOE) announced the three winners of the Instructional Impact Awards for the spring 2024 semester. These departmental awards are student-nominated, giving students the opportunity to honor a faculty member, a graduate teaching assistant (GTA), and an undergraduate teaching fellow (UTF) who have made a significant impact on their academic journey.

Faculty Instructional Impact Award

Alisa Morss Clyne

BIOE Professor Alisa Morss Clyne received the Faculty Instructional Impact Award for the second time, following her selection by students in Spring 2022. Clyne leads the Vascular Kinetics Lab, which investigates integrated mechanical and biochemical interactions among cells and proteins of the cardiovascular system. Clyne was nominated by students in her BIOE 331: Biofluids course, who noted her exceptional ability to help them understand difficult concepts.

“Initially I was nervous about taking the class because I heard from previous students how difficult the subject was. Dr. Clyne did a good job breaking down the concepts so it was easy to understand.” one student nomination said.

“Dr. Clyne is very clear in her explanation. Her class is very well set up. She provides lots of resources, such as Panopto recordings, lecture notes, and help outside of class time. She goes above and beyond to help students,” noted another nominator.

“I appreciate that my students took the time to nominate me for the award, and I am grateful for their kind words,” Clyne says. “I put in extra hours to ensure that each student understands the course material and has a strong opportunity to succeed, so it is wonderful to receive this award in honor of that work.”

Clyne explains that she aims to find effective ways to break down difficult concepts so students can fully grasp them. Her interactive classroom approach involves solving problems in groups while she provides immediate assistance.“Sometimes students get hung up on a particular topic, and it is fun to see the excitement on their faces when they understand the topic and then apply their knowledge to new situations,” Clyne says.

In addition to teaching, Clyne is an ADVANCE Professor advocating for equitable opportunities for women engineering faculty across the university. As an ADVANCE Professor and a Fischell Fellow with the Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices, Clyne advocates for women faculty members and focuses on translating her research to directly impact human health. “Serving as the ADVANCE professor for the College of Engineering is particularly meaningful to me because I want to make sure that women have equitable opportunities to succeed in academia,” she said. “Being a Fischell Fellow pushes me to move my research beyond the laboratory and think about how my research can be translated to impact human health.”

GTA Instructional Impact Award

Sarah Beth Browning
Alumni, Bioengineering MEng ‘24

Sarah Beth Browning received the Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) Instructional Impact Award for her work in several courses, including BIOE121: Biology for Engineers, BIOE488A: Special Topics in Bioengineering, and BIOE340: Bioengineering Laboratory Techniques. A recent graduate from the BIOE Masters in Engineering (MEng) program, Browning conducted research with Assistant Professor Sara Molinari and served as Lab Manager lab manager of the BIOE instructional Lab. Since graduating this Spring, Browning is now Dr. Molinari’s faculty assistant. As a two-time recipient of this award, Browning expressed great pride to be selected again. Browning worked to make the sometimes-difficult course a more hands-on learning experience.

One student notes: “I just transferred here, and I was worried about adjusting to all my new classes. I had a fear that my knowledge may be behind everyone else, and that since the school is so big, I would just be a number. However, Sarah was always happy to answer questions and had patience with all the students. That was one of the best traits about her because she made the lab environment welcoming and inclusive to everyone.”

Browning was recognized for her efforts to make herself available to students, frequently answering questions and providing demonstrations for difficult experiments. She emphasizes the importance of being present and approachable to foster a better learning environment.

“My favorite part of being a graduate assistant is interacting with the students," Browning says. “Their questions make you understand how much you know–or how much you don't–about a subject”.

Browning appreciated the opportunity to assist students and make a positive impact on their academic experience. She values the recognition of her behind-the-scenes efforts to support student learning.

“To know that I managed to make a difference in a student's learning is all any instructor can hope for,” Browning says.

UTF Instructional Impact Award

Jeffrey Luo
Bioengineering Senior

Jeffrey Luo, a rising senior on the Pre-Health track, received the Undergraduate Teaching Fellow (UTF) Instructional Impact Award for his contributions to BIOE340: Modeling Physiological Systems and Lab. Luo’s engaging and approachable style made a significant impact on his students.

“Our labs for BIOE340 would be hard to complete if it hadn’t been for Jeffrey. He helped us through the MATLAB components, providing us with lots of help and guidance with navigating through the lab,” one student nomination said. “He would also check our work even if it was much later in the day, and he was very proactive with providing any suggestions to improve our lab reports.”

Luo’s favorite part of being a TA was interacting with students and supporting them through the course material. Luo expresses how seeing his students have their moment of realization on a problem are the most memorable moments as an instructor.

Regarding his teaching practices, Luo emphasizes the importance of being engaging and approachable, frequently checking in with students, and fostering an easygoing atmosphere in which they feel encouraged to ask questions. “In office hours, I often add hypothetical changes to examples from class and ask about the ‘why’ behind lecture concepts. Also, students come from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences, and it's important to recognize that for each person and build off of what they already know,” Luo says.

“I feel extremely touched and honored to receive this award. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the professor and students, and I'm very glad I could have a positive impact on the class,” Luo said.

Published June 28, 2024