Carnegie Mellon University

Susan Graul

April 22, 2015

Susan Graul Wins Julius Ashkin Teaching Award for Education

Susan Graul, associate teaching professor in chemistry (as of 7/1/15), received the Julius Ashkin Teaching Award for her unusual devotion and effectiveness in teaching undergraduate students. Nearly every chemistry major passes through Graul’s back-to-back laboratory courses: Laboratory II: Organic Synthesis and Analysis and Laboratory III: Molecular Design and Synthesis. By the end of those two semesters, students say that they really start to feel like chemists.

“Looking back, it is almost mind boggling to think that I learned so much material in only two semesters, but it seemed almost effortless at the time due to Dr. Graul’s teaching excellence,” wrote a former student in support of Graul’s nomination.

Graul, who joined the faculty in 1992, has high expectations of her students, but she works very hard to support and encourage them along the way. Her students speak highly of her willingness to make herself available whenever they need help, whether it’s in the lab, during office hours or by email. They also rave about her clarity of communication and depth of knowledge.

Her colleagues commend her for continually updating the course material to improve not only her courses but also her students’ experiences in the courses. When enrollment in her Lab II course nearly doubled over the span of several years, Graul experimented with a variety of approaches to ensure that the quality of students’ experience was maintained despite the larger class size.

“Throughout her time in the department, she has established herself as our expert in laboratory education focused on organic synthesis and analysis,” wrote Karen Stump, Chemistry Teaching Professor, when nominating Graul for the award.

“I did not fully realize how much I learned from Dr. Graul’s classes until I was outside of the CMU environment,” wrote a former student. “During a summer research experience, I frequently found myself using the techniques I had performed in the labs…During interviews, I was able to answer questions based on the experiments I had done…And during the time I worked as a chemist, I was able to apply the concepts I had learned to the various projects I was working on.”