Carnegie Mellon University

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Teaching and Service Awards

Two Carnegie Mellon Students Awarded Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships

Salini Konikkat and Madhumitha Ramesh received the Department of Biological Sciences Graduate Student Teaching and Service Awards, respectively. The annual honors, now in their eleventh year, were awarded on Wednesday, April 8th to coincide with the yearly Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation week at Carnegie Mellon.

Salini Konikkat, recipient of the teaching award, is a fifth year Ph.D. graduate student in Dr. John Woolford’s lab. She was nominated by Dr. Gordon Rule for her exceptional performance as a Teaching Assistant in the undergraduate Biochemistry course in Spring 2014.

“Sal is unique in that she is one of the few students who asked to give lectures in the course and to lead recitations sessions,” said Dr. Rule. From Dr. Rule's letter it was clear that Konikkat not only asked for this grand challenge, but also did a great job in meeting the challenge.

Commenting on Konikkat’s job as a TA, one student, David Vinson (MCS, Chemistry ’16), said, “From a student perspective, it seemed as if Sal knew of all of the villains of biochemistry as she worked effortlessly to suggest creative ways to understand protein purification or unraveling the complexities of x-ray crystallography.”

Moreover, Vinson commented, “Another phenomenal aspect of Sal’s teaching is her patience. As she can attest to, her office hours were almost always overflowing with students[.] Sal would often sit down with all of these students, sometimes two to three hours at a time, and review every individual problem or at least offer some sort of an explanation as to why a certain outcome turned out the way it did.”

Madhumitha Ramesh, recipient of the service award, is also a fifth year Ph.D. graduate student in the Woolford lab. This award is intended for someone who has demonstrated above and beyond service to the department during their tenure here at the university Ramesh was nominated for the service award by two of her peers, graduate students Swati Venkat and Beril Kumcuoglu, who acknowledged Ramesh’s continued efforts in the yearly recruiting visits for prospective students, as well as her role in Mellon FIT in the initiation of their crowdfunding campaign and as the liaison for Women in Bio.

“She has always been a great help to students in the department,” said Swati Venkat, third year Ph.D. graduate student. “Given her enthusiasm and contributions to the department and its students, I believe she is a great candidate for this award.”

The annual awards are aimed at highlighting exceptional student work and involvement within the department.

Congratulations to Salini Konikkat and Madhumitha Ramesh for their amazing efforts within the department and the CMU community!

2015 Graduate Student Service and Teaching Awards