Carnegie Mellon University
June 08, 2022

Junichi Koganemaru Receives Young Teaching Award

By Kirsten Heuring

Jocelyn Duffy
  • Associate Dean for Communications, MCS
  • 4122689982

Junichi Koganemaru, a Ph.D. candidate in the Mathematical Sciences department, has received the Hugh D. Young Graduate Student Teaching Award. Koganemaru has been a teaching assistant for seven courses at Carnegie Mellon University, and he has taught one summer course.

“I’m just very thankful for the math department for giving me so much support over the last few years,” said Koganemaru. “I learned a lot about teaching through my teachers.”

Koganemaru attributes much of his teaching skills to his advisor, Ian Tice, associate professor of mathematical sciences and past winner of a faculty teaching award. Inspired by Tice’s dedication to his students by crafting hundreds of homework problems and extensive teaching notes, Koganemaru provided students with over 250 pages of neatly typed lecture notes when he taught Matrices and Linear Transformations during Summer 2020. This was the first time he had the course, so he had to create those notes from scratch.

“Sometimes, students are so busy taking notes that they forget to follow the flow of the lecture, which I think in math is very important,” said Koganemaru. “In math, you're trying to follow through with thought and the stream of logical thought and being interrupted by writing could take away from that experience.”

According to teaching evaluations, Koganemaru’s students appreciate his effort and thoughtfulness both as a TA and as a teacher. He has been consistently rated between above average and excellent on evaluations, and students have specifically commented on his preparedness and his dedication to their learning.

Koganemaru was nominated by Dejan Slepčev, professor of mathematical sciences and director of graduate studies.

“While the department of Mathematical Sciences has had several TAs win teaching awards in recent years, I feel that Junichi stands out,” said Slepčev. “The faculty letters, student TA evaluations and student letters we solicited provide ample evidence of his remarkable dedication and ability as a teacher.”

Throughout his whole teaching experience, Koganemaru’s main goal is to demonstrate to students just how exciting math is.

“I think teaching is a way to guide other people to discovering certain things, so when I can explain a concept that I understand decently well to someone else and have them understand it and see the beauty in it I find that to be very gratifying thing to do,” said Koganemaru. “People think of mathematics as formulas and memorizing and doing calculations, but there's also a very a huge part of the subject is also about point of view and communication and how to explain ideas. I really enjoy trying to pinpoint the right point of view so that the students can see what I see.”

Outside his teaching, Koganemaru is currently working on problems related to the free boundary incompressible Navier-Stokes equations.