Carnegie Mellon University
June 20, 2018

Joseph Briggs Receives Graduate Student Teaching Award

By Ben Panko

Mathematical Sciences Ph.D. candidate Joseph Briggs was honored with the 2018 Hugh Young Graduate Student Teaching Award. He received the prize at the Mellon College of Science Graduate Town Hall in April.

"Joe Briggs embodies everything one could possibly want in a [teaching assistant]," Associate Teaching Professor Deborah Brandon wrote in a letter nominating Briggs for the award. "He is a gifted expositor. He is extremely reliable and very helpful, and he really cares about his students. In addition, he has that rare ability to make the learning experience memorable (in a good way)."

In his nearly five years at Carnegie Mellon University, Brandon said that Briggs' flexible teaching style allowed her to assign him to teach alongside many different instructors in a variety of courses.

"I have never had a TA that I would trust more than Joe to elegantly explain mathematical material to undergraduates," Associate Professor Wesley Pegden said in a letter supporting Briggs' nomination.

A dozen of Briggs' former students wrote in to confirm his teaching abilities.

"Before an exam, I would take advantage of his office hours to ask him several questions about the material," sophomore Shruti Murali wrote. "He answered all of them and was always excited when I had more questions because he's just that kind of instructor — always going above and beyond to make sure his students understood the material."

Junior Makayla Filiere echoed that sentiment about Briggs' energy and passion for instruction.

"He just loves math and gets so excited about math concepts and teaching others," Filiere wrote. "He would solve the problem and be jumping all around, pumped up at how it is that we just solved this problem! To see a TA so passionate about math naturally makes you more excited about it as well.”