Four professors were honored for outstanding undergraduate teaching, mentoring and educational innovation when they were named as the 2010 MacVicar Faculty Fellows: Anette (Peko) Hosoi, of mechanical engineering, Krishna Rajagopal, of physics, Rajeev Ram, of electrical engineering and computer science, and Norvin Richards, of linguistics and philosophy.
Provost L. Rafael Reif formally announced honorees to the MIT faculty during a reception at Gray House on Tuesday. “Appointment as a MacVicar Fellow recognizes professors who have made exemplary and sustained contributions to the teaching and complete education of MIT undergraduates,” said Reif, “which includes their dedication inside the classroom and beyond.” The provost’s advisory committee is chaired by Daniel Hastings, dean for undergraduate education, and includes faculty and students who assist the provost in selecting new fellows.
The MacVicar Faculty Fellows Program was established in 1992 to honor the life and devotion to teaching excellence of Margaret MacVicar ‘64, ScD ‘67, MIT's first dean for undergraduate education and founder of UROP (the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program). The 10-year fellowship provides an annual scholar’s allowance to support faculty efforts to enrich undergraduate learning experiences.
To celebrate undergraduate education on MacVicar Day, Wednesday, March 10, John Seely Brown will present a lecture titled "Blended Learning Revisited" at 2:15 p.m. in 32-141. The event is open to the entire MIT community.
Anette (Peko) Hosoi
Hosoi earned her MA (1994) and PhD (1997) from the University of Chicago after completing her BA at Princeton University. She was an assistant professor at Harvey Mudd College and an instructor in the Department of Mathematics at MIT before joining the mechanical engineering faculty in 2002.
Hosoi’s principal fields of interest are free surface flows, thin films, surface tension, particle-laden flows and complex fluids. In addition, she has designed a Mechanical Crawler (MIT TLO Case No. 11298): a Peristaltic Crawler based on marine pastropod locomotion.
Evidence of Hosoi’s remarkable impact on the tone and vibrancy of undergraduate education in MechE is gathered by standing in the hall outside her office where the rule (not the exception) is an open door, noted one of her colleagues. There are frequently many undergraduates in roll-up-your-sleeves blackboard discussions punctuated by regular interruptions of collective laughter. It is what undergraduate education is supposed to be.
“Professor Hosoi is amazing!” raved one of her students. “I enjoyed every recitation and left more knowledgeable each time. She is both an incredible teacher and role model for her students, especially women.”
Richards received his BA from Cornell University in 1993 and his PhD from MIT in 1997. He is a professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy.
He is interested in a variety of topics in syntax, including the syntax of wh-movement and the syntax-phonology interface, and has done fieldwork on a number of languages. He is the author of several books and papers, including the recently published book Uttering Trees (MIT Press, March 2010).
“Every conceivable virtue is evident in Norvin’s teaching,” explains one of his colleagues. “His planning is extensive and perfect. He comes to class, lays out the issues, data and analysis with clarity and beauty. Norvin is the kind of teacher who makes his audience think and ask questions because they find it fun to do so.”
“Professor Richards is easily one of the best instructors I’ve had in my life,” one of his students told the selection committee. “His lectures are entertaining, interesting and content-packed. The care and attention he pays to his students is very evident and quite inspirational.”
Rajagopal, professor and associate department head for education in the Department of Physics, did his undergraduate work at Queen's University in Kingston, Canada. He obtained his doctorate at Princeton University in 1993 and then spent three years at Harvard as a junior fellow. He then spent one year at Caltech before coming to MIT in 1997.
In the Center for Theoretical Physics, Rajagopal studies QCD in extreme conditions, which requires linking usually disparate strands of theoretical physics, including particle and nuclear physics, cosmology, astrophysics, condensed matter physics and string theory.
According to colleagues, his mastery of the subjects he teaches and the clarity with which he presents subtle and challenging concepts demonstrates his excellent skill and his sensitivity as a teacher. He uses clear visual and analytical representations and repeatedly shows how the material in his lectures is connected with other courses.
“Fantastic, coherent, sophisticated lectures and presentations” were described by one of his students. Rajagopal builds understanding from the ground up, helping students to “learn” instead of “watch and wonder.”
Rajeev J. Ram is an associate director of the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE), and director of RLE's affiliated Center for Integrated Photonic Systems (CIPS). He received the BS in applied physics from Caltech in 1991 and the PhD in electrical engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1997. He joined the MIT faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 1997.
Ram's research focuses on physical optics and electronics, including the development of novel components and systems for communications and sensing, novel semiconductor lasers for advanced fiber optic communications, and studies of fundamental interactions between electronic materials and light.
Ram brings his skill, clarity, personal integrity and passion directly into the classroom and the teaching laboratory, according to his colleagues. His lectures linger in the mind’s eye and stay with you. The excitement in the lab is palpable, and students often stay long after assignments are complete to play with apparatuses they have constructed and can take home.
“To further our understanding and enjoyment of the material, he took us into the lab and helped us build our own LCD cells that we could keep,” explained one of Ram’s satisfied students. “My cell worked out so well that I dragged my parents into the lab when they came to visit to show them my wonderful LCD in operation.”