Carnegie Mellon University

Teaching Innovation Award

Introduced in 2016, the Teaching Innovation Awards are Carnegie Mellon's newest faculty recognition.  The awards honor teaching practices or strategies designed to improve student learning in online, blended or face-to-face courses. Individual faculty members and/or teams of colleagues may be recognized.

2022 Award Recipients

Ken Holstein

Assistant Professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute

Ken Holstein is an Assistant Professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) at CMU’s School of Computer Science, where he directs the CMU CoALA Lab. Dr. Holstein’s research focuses broadly on human-AI collaboration and participatory design. Much of his current research explores how humans and AI systems can augment each other’s abilities and learn from each other to support more effective and responsible human-AI collaborations. Through partnerships with practitioners and community stakeholders, his group creates new technologies to complement and bring out the best of human ability in fundamentally human endeavors such as social or creative forms of work. Through collaborations with many amazing students and colleagues, Dr. Holstein integrates approaches and theories from HCI, AI, design, cognitive science, learning sciences, statistics, critical algorithm studies, and machine learning, among other areas. Dr. Holstein is a Siebel Scholar, the recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Predoctoral Award from the Institute of Education Sciences (U.S. Department of Education), and the recipient of a 2019 Dissertation Award Honorable Mention from CMU’s School of Computer Science. His research has received multiple best paper awards at top venues, as well as media coverage from outlets such as The Boston Globe, PBS NOVA, Brookings, UNESCO, and The Hechinger Report. Dr. Holstein’s research has been funded through various grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Institute for Education Sciences (IES), the Block Center, Cisco, ETUDES, and the Metro21 Smart Cities Institute. In terms of teaching, Dr. Holstein has developed two new courses at CMU so far, in collaboration with colleagues: (1) a course on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in HCI, and (2) Prototyping Algorithmic Experiences (or PAX for short), which is a core course within CMU’s recently launched Primary Major in HCI. Dr. Holstein received his PhD and MS in HCI from CMU in 2019, and a BS in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2014.

Joshua Kangas

Assistant Teaching Professor of Computational Biology

Josh is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Computational Biology Department in the School of Computer Science where he also earned his Ph.D. under Dr. Robert F. Murphy.  His Ph.D. studies were primarily focused on the development and application of automated science methods for drug discovery and development.  From that work, he and Dr. Murphy co-founded a company called Quantitative Medicine which offered an automated science-oriented software service to improve the efficiency of pharmaceutical research.  Afterward, he returned to Carnegie Mellon and discovered a passion for Computational Biology education in the context of biology labs.  His teaching was primarily focused on giving students experience with experimental design and execution at the interface of lab experimentation (data generation) and computation (data modeling and analysis). 

Since then, he was involved in starting two new programs.  First, he and Dr. Phillip Compeau (also from Computational Biology) founded the first high school program focused on Computational Biology with an emphasis on both the laboratory techniques and the implementation of algorithms needed for analysis of DNA sequence data.  Second, Josh helped to start the first M.S. Automated Science Biological Experimentation program in the world. 

Although the age range he teaches has been extended to include high school and Ph.D. students and everyone in between, the laboratory courses he teaches are still focused on the interface of computation (including machine learning and modeling), biological data generation (sequencing, microscopy, cytometry, etc.), and artificial intelligence-directed laboratory automation.

Josh has a variety of research interests he pursues primarily in service of offering exciting experimental opportunities for students in the courses he teaches.  With his high school and some undergraduate students, he and Dr. Compeau have taken boat trips to study the bacteria living in the three rivers of Pittsburgh.  With M.S. students, his students have taught a robot, originally designed for biological experiments, to play the game “Battleship” experimentally. In his graduate courses, M.S. and Ph.D. students have even studied potential treatments for venomous snake bite victims from all over the world. He continues to look for exciting opportunities to incorporate modern experimentation into his computational biology lab courses.