Carnegie Mellon University
May 19, 2022

Carrie Doonan Receives the Richard Moore Award

By Amy Laird

Jocelyn Duffy

The Richard Moore Award recognizes faculty members who have made substantial and sustained contributions to the educational mission of the college, particularly faculty members whose educational contributions to the college have extended over a substantial portion of their academic careers.

The new, award-winning Biological Sciences course “Frontiers in Analysis and Discovery” is a perfect example of Carrie Doonan’s vision for how to motivate, excite and educate budding scientists. First-year students in the class gain valuable laboratory research experience and get to work with juniors and interact with faculty, many of whom the students would not otherwise meet until their junior and senior years. This approach gives students something invaluable — a sense of belonging at MCS. 

“Community building is a strong theme in all of Carrie’s work,” wrote Biological Sciences Department Head Veronica Hinman in nominating Doonan for the Richard Moore Award. “She has had an extraordinary impact on undergraduate students that extends far past their time at CMU, and she has been instrumental in building a community of learners that includes students, alumni and faculty.”

Doonan, a teaching professor and director of undergraduate laboratories for the Department of Biological Sciences, has been at the forefront of advances in curriculum and course development since she joined the department in 199x. Over the years Doonan has revised the 300-level lab courses to ensure that they provide instruction in current topics and skills in a way that also develops students’ ability to think critically and to hone their analytical, problem-solving and data analysis abilities. The bar was raised for Doonan during the past two years when the pandemic forced the labs to pivot to online and hybrid modes.

“Carrie, and the teaching lab team, put in a herculean effort to safely offer in-person lab courses and provide remote instruction to ensure that students could continue to their degrees on time without sacrificing critical hands-on laboratory training and experience,” wrote Hinman.

Doonan’s work doesn’t stop with the lab courses. She serves on the committee for the undergraduate experience, providing advice on many courses beyond the labs as well as evaluating new courses and assessments. She mentors and supports teaching faculty, offering guidance as they develop required courses, elective lab courses and masters-level courses. She advises neuroscience majors, mentors many biology majors and manages a team of undergraduates who work as lab TAs.

“Carrie’s impact extends among all students, faculty and alumni and into the broader community,” Hinman added.

If you see students doing a scavenger hunt where they must find faculty labs and talk to faculty members to find hidden clues based on research questions, it’s Doonan’s doing. If you see high school students converging on the Mellon Institute, it’s Doonan’s community outreach efforts in action. Dozens of alumni coming back to interact with current students and offer career advice? It’s all because of Doonan’s hard work bridging the communities she cares so deeply about.

“I can think of no one more deserving of this award than Carrie, who has contributed almost 30 years of substantial and sustained contributions to the educational mission of the college and has had a tremendous positive impact on the education trajectories of hundreds of our students.” 

Doonan will receive the Richard Moore Award at the MCS Annual Meeting on May 26 and be recognized at the university’s Celebration of Education on April 28. She has previously been awarded the Julius Ashkin Teaching Award in the Mellon College of Science, the Mark Gelfand Award for Service Learning and Outreach and the Teaching Innovation Award