2019-20 Grad Student Award Nominees

The purpose of the Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Teaching is to promote and reward teaching effectiveness by current graduate students and to provide award nominees with training on how to present evidence of teaching excellence. 

We are pleased to announce the nominees for the 2019-2020 academic year. Nominees are listed by school.

Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Kayce Tomcho, Chemistry

Kayce excels at clearly communicating complex course content to her students and is adept at very transparently describing course expectations to her students. She utilizes a variety of pedagogical strategies and puts a lot of thought into conceptualizing the classroom experience for the learners in her group. She successfully created online learning modules and has engaged in considerable mentoring of undergraduates in research.

photo of Kayce T

Michelle Valkanas, Biology

Michelle utilizes highly innovative teaching techniques with her students including a very successful scavenger hunt in which students navigated the Mellon Hall labs to find clues and master concepts at the same time. She focuses on the diverse learners in her classes and offers a variety of learning opportunities to support them. Michelle takes risks with her teaching but also carefully reflects on the outcomes and adapts as necessary.

photo of michelle valkanas

School of Pharmacy

Liu S. Lu, Pharmacy

Sherlock strives to connect with his students and offer relatable associations to make their learning processes more enjoyable through emotional-learning strategies. He is known for his relatable examples that future pharmacists may face and encourages students to think outside the box. He also is noted for his extensive mentorship.

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Ngoc Pham, Pharmacology

Ngoc's success in her teaching lies in her extensive preparation for her TA sessions including attending the same lectures that her students attend and planning alternative ways of explaining a concept before she even meets with a student. She is a reflective teacher that meets her students where they are and provides a variety of ways to deconstruct the material to make it more adaptable to students' learning needs.

photo of ngoc pham

McAnulty Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Autumn Marie Chilcote, Clinical Psychology

At the heart of Autumn Marie's teaching is her student-centered approach and her tireless commitment to using an inclusive lens to view all aspects of her teaching. Her knowledge of inclusion-orientated teaching practices comes from her firm grasp of the goals of inclusive teaching and also in her practical application of universal design techniques. She also has used innovative ways to integrate technology into her teaching, including the use of Flex-Tech classrooms.

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Courtney Druzak, English

Courtney incorporates a variety of creative teaching ideas including the incorporation of performances by the Red Masquers. She has a strong focus on engagement, which is prioritized in her teaching techniques and many of her teaching materials reflect her emphasis on helping students embrace the processes of learning.

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Basak Guven, Communication and Rhetorical Studies

Basak has reflected on her own experiences as an international student and used those experiences to support and further her students' learning. She identifies herself as a co-learner with her students and her students describe her as very empathetic and approachable. Basak is very connected to her students' learning and encourages student contributions and turns these contributions into valuable learning material for the class.

Photo of B Guven

Jeff Lambert, Philosophy

Jeff is known throughout his department as an excellent teaching resource sought out by teaching assistants and faculty alike. He brings an inclusive approach to his teaching and in the course content he offers to students by creating student-centered and low-stakes assignments. Not only has he taught a variety of courses at Duquesne but he has also designed a unique course that integrates community engagement. In many ways, Jeff encourages students to apply philosophical concepts to their experiences.

Siyuan Ma, English

Max brings humility to his teaching and credits the impression his teaching parents made on him as an inspiration behind his teaching. He brings a variety of creative teaching ideas to his students such as his clever "Mafia" game, the weaving of non-western philosophy and concepts into his content, and the integration of music. Fellow teaching assistants shared how they have regularly requested his pedagogical advice and appreciate his very reflective approach to his growth as a teacher.

photo of max ma

Zachary Slanger, Philosophy

A very reflective teacher by nature, Zach strives to establish rapport and to make the material relevant to students' lived experiences. There is a strong link to the claims of his teaching philosophy to the syllabi he creates and the content he offers his students. He is a very passionate and enthusiastic teacher, while also maintaining a groundedness and modesty in his work.

photo of zachary s