Carnegie Mellon University
April 25, 2023

Samson Leung Honored with Young Graduate Teaching Award

By Kirsten Heuring

Jocelyn Duffy
  • Associate Dean for Communications, MCS
  • 412-268-9982

Wang Chi "Samson" Leung makes complicated math concepts more concrete for students.

"The course Concepts of Mathematics is always the most difficult class for students, but it's also rewarding when the students understand those concepts," said Leung, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. "They go from being afraid of math or disliking the subject to being very interested in mathematics."

Mellon College of Science students and faculty recognized his excellence in teaching by awarding him this year's Hugh D. Young Graduate Student Teaching Award.

"Samson's teaching methods are effective in both a classroom and computer lab setting," said Jason Howell, a teaching professor and director of undergraduate studies for the Department of Mathematical Sciences. "His performance as a teaching assistant and grader for undergraduate math courses has been exemplary."

Since joining Carnegie Mellon University in 2018, Leung has been a teaching assistant for seven classes: Calculus II, Calculus in 3-D, Linear Algebra and Vector Calculus for Engineers, Matrices and Linear Transformations, Differential Equations, Basic Logic, and Concepts of Mathematics. These classes were designed for students from first-year engineering and computer science majors to upper-level mathematical sciences majors.

In the summer of 2022, Leung taught Concepts of Mathematics to students during CMU's Pre-College Summer Session. While the course is designed to introduce informal logic and the methods behind mathematical proofs to mathematical sciences and computer science majors, the students were excited by the experience.

"I had no prior experience with discrete mathematics, but Samson was a very helpful lecturer both inside and outside of class," one student said. "I remember him staying 2-3 hours after the scheduled office hours because many students had questions about homework. Most of the time, he stayed as long as he could and did his best to help students understand the concepts."

Outside of teaching, Leung studies mathematical logic, particularly abstract elementary classes. He works closely with his advisor Rami Grossberg, a professor of mathematical sciences, and he helps junior students in their research.

"I try to describe mathematical objects that are not describable in the usual way," Leung said.

Leung defended his Ph.D. thesis last fall. He will graduate this summer and join The Pennsylvania State University as an assistant teaching professor.

"I will continue with teaching as my lifelong career," Leung said. "That is my passion. Passing on knowledge has tangible applications in the real world in terms of what we can do."

The Young Award was established in 1995 in honor of Hugh D. Young, a professor of physics at the Mellon College of Science and is presented to one MCS Ph.D. student annually.