University announces 2020 winners of Quantrell and Graduate Teaching Awards – UChicago News

Someone once gave me the advice that being a faculty member is all about committing to doing things that you're not yet completely qualified to do, Chong says. Doing research is all about taking on areas that youre going to have to learn more about and building your confidence.

Chong makes intimidating concepts accessible by offering students multiple points of engagement: engineering physical devices, applying math to theory and algorithms, or developing new approaches for software.

We have students from molecular engineering, physics and math, and computer science all taking my class, and that's a great thing, since quantum systems are really a synthesis of all these disciplines, Chong says.

That interdisciplinary approach transfers to his lab, where he mentors 10 graduate students and two postdoctoral scholars. Each researcher is expected to oversee their own project, but also support each others workfrom hardware to theory.

I definitely give them a lot of room to run with the things they want to do, Chong said. There has never been a day that I did not think I was in the right job for me. My students can see that I really enjoy my work, and I think that has led many to become faculty and researchers.

The quest for knowledge is what underlies Assoc. Prof. Megan McNerneys work in cancer biologyand her teaching.

My hope is always that by the end of class, students appreciate how little we understand the genome, but how exhilarating it is to study, she says.

The same way scientists chip slowly away at questions about nature, cancer and the body, is the way that she runs her lab.

My approach to teaching, in the classroom or outside, is to foster students independent critical thinking skills. It is more Socratic than didactic, she says, referring to the split between formal instruction of material versus a more freewheeling style that starts by asking questions.

The approach means that students of all levels receive the same attention and encouragement to branch out, according to the students who nominated her for the award. In McNerneys lab, everyones experiments, ideas, growth and opportunities are important. She is incredibly skilled at directing the projects in her lab, and it is so clear that she goes above and beyond to read and understand our field; and yet she is always willing to take even the most junior students ideas into consideration, one wrote.

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University announces 2020 winners of Quantrell and Graduate Teaching Awards - UChicago News

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