John Mackey, Stuart Staley and Jonathan Minden Receive the Mellon College of Science’s Awards for Education-Mellon College of Science - Carnegie Mellon University

Monday, March 19, 2007

John Mackey, Stuart Staley and Jonathan Minden Receive the Mellon College of Science’s Awards for Education

John Mackey, Stuart Staley and Jonathan Minden — the winners of The Mellon College of Science’s awards for education — will be recognized at the University Celebration of Teaching ceremony on April 5. Their accomplishments will be further celebrated at the Mellon College of Science (MCS) annual meeting on April 30.

The Julius Ashkin Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to John Mackey, lecturer and assistant department head in the department of mathematical sciences. The Julius Ashkin Award is presented to a faculty member who has shown unusual devotion and effectiveness in teaching undergraduate students. Mackey was recognized for his boundless energy, infectious enthusiasm and passion for mathematics, all of which are evident in his teaching and in his interactions with students. “He truly gets people excited about math,” said one student. “You just want to learn more, and it’s this ability to draw people into his subject that makes him a truly unique educator.” Many students said his teaching of The Concepts of Mathematics course — a key course for mathematics, computer science and engineering students — inspired them to become mathematics majors. In nominating Mackey for the award, students and colleagues credited him with invigorating the undergraduate Math Club and coaching a very competitive Putnam Competition team. “He will make Carnegie Mellon a great place to be a mathematics undergraduate,” wrote one nominator.

Stuart Staley, professor of chemistry, received the Richard Moore Award, which recognizes faculty members who have made substantial and sustained contributions to the educational mission of MCS. Staley, who has been a faculty member in the department of chemistry for 20 years, received the award for dedicating his career to education with remarkable passion and commitment. “He is a true Renaissance man who believes that a Carnegie Mellon education should produce alumni who are science specialists but who are also broadly educated citizens of the world,” said one nominator. In support of his nomination, colleagues wrote that he “has shaped the educational experience of countless students” and “is innovative, creative and thoughtful in his curriculum design and clear, energetic and passionate in the classroom.” During his tenure, Staley brought a project-oriented, research-based approach to the undergraduate laboratory program, and he introduced collaborative problem solving in organic chemistry recitations. He also established the Issues in Chemistry course, which focuses on technical communication skills taught in the context of issues in the field of chemistry.

The first annual Innovation in Education Award was presented to Jonathan Minden in recognition of his significant innovation in MCS’s educational programs. Minden, associate professor in the department of biological sciences, was commended for developing “a truly creative and novel educational idea” — the Faculty to Faculty course in Frontiers of Biology. Designed to demystify some of biology’s most newsworthy topics, such as drug design, neurobiology and genomics, the course was hailed by a participant as “one of the most exciting intellectual activities that I have ever seen and/or participated in.” The first time Minden offered the class, he received 90 emails from interested faculty within an hour.

Faculty from such diverse departments as Drama, Psychology, Design and Mathematical Sciences have taken part in this “exceptionally creative teaching activity.”

By: Amy Pavlak