9 recognized with award for superior teaching

Nine faculty received the 2019 George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching, which honors top Rice instructors as determined by the votes of alumni who graduated within the past two, three and five years. Below are the recipients and what they believe is the most important thing students learn from them.

José Aranda, the Allison Sarofim Associate Professor for Distinguished Teaching in the Humanities

“The most important thing a student learns from is… letting one’s curiosity be open to the unexpected that comes from embracing difference.”

Keith Cooper, L. John and Ann H. Doerr Chair in Computational Engineering and professor in computer science

“I think the most important thing that students gain in my undergraduate course is an understanding of how software systems actually work — that is, how the code that they write in some high-level language actually becomes low-level software that executes on a microprocessor. Computer Science is a discipline that focuses on inventing abstractions and then finding efficient and effective ways to implement those abstractions. COMP 412 is, for many of them, the first time that they really peek behind the curtains and see all of the pieces that come together to implement the abstractions that they describe in the code that they write.”

Sandra Parsons, assistant teaching professor of psychological sciences

“The most important thing students learn from me is that they have the power to renegotiate the situational constraints that can lead to interpersonal conflict. Once students understand that power, they can reshape how they think about and react to other people in ways that enhance their experiences in the world.”

Renata Ramos, associate teaching professor of bioengineering

“The most important things my students learn from me are to think independently, to work hard and to learn from their mistakes. At Rice, I am surrounded by incredibly smart students, and I believe my responsibilities go beyond teaching them technical skills. In my courses, I strive to help students develop the tools that will allow them to be successful engineers capable of thinking critically about the problems that surround them and working collaboratively to make the world around them better.”

Yousif Shamoo, vice provost for research and professor of biosciences

“I don’t kid myself. I know that the details of my class fade with time. I hope I have been helping them learn to think in a way that helps them throughout their lives. The ability to think clearly, but with empathy and purpose, is the greatest gift we as educators can provide.”

Scott Solomon, associate teaching professor of biosciences

“Science is an amazing way of understanding the world around us! In my EBIO (ecology and evolutionary biology) courses my students gain new perspectives on nature and on humans — including who we are, where we came from and how we interact with the natural world.”

Lesa Tran Lu, lecturer in chemistry

“The most important thing a student learns from me is … to embrace the struggle as they confront challenges to their knowledge, their beliefs and their abilities. Every challenge is an opportunity for them to learn, assess and grow into the person they aspire to become, but to overcome these challenges takes great patience, hard work, being open to change and a willingness to ask for help.”

Nicole Waligora-Davis, associate professor of English

“The most important thing a student learns from me is the necessity of, and the capacity to, think deeply and analytically about a range of issues and questions relevant to the world, a practice that necessitates reading texts within a rich and interdisciplinary set of historical, political, social, legal, aesthetic and theoretical contexts and frameworks. In this way students learn to read with sensitivity and awareness, to ask probative questions and to effectively communicate and contextualize their own ideas.”

Gary Woods, professor in the practice of electrical and computer engineering

“The whole capstone experience: contributing four years of domain-specific learning towards a complex, team-based design project.”

About Arie Passwaters

Arie Wilson Passwaters is a Web editor in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.