UAAP Announces Recipients of 2007-08 Advising and Mentoring Awards


Each spring, the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming (UAAP) solicits nominations for advising and mentoring awards that recognize the efforts of individuals whose dedication had a significant impact on the lives of the undergraduate students they worked with.

The Outstanding Freshman Advisor Award
The Outstanding Advisor Award honors a freshman Advisor who has demonstrated outstanding dedication to freshmen by consistently checking in with them, always being accessible, providing sound advice and generously giving of his/her time. This year’s recipients were:

Ari Epstein, a Lecturer in the Earth System Initiative and an Instructor and academic advisor for students participating in the Terrascope Learning Community. According to one of his nominators, Ari provided “a world of advice that has helped me pave my way through my first year at MIT. He truly wanted what was best for me…connected with me in multiple dimensions…beyond simply taking care of my paperwork. He has been a source of advice and good cheer, but most importantly, he has been a source of confidence.”

Wayne B. Johnson, an Assistant Registrar with the MIT Registrar’s Office, who according to a nominator, “has been nothing short of exceptional…consistently very helpful…selecting a major and in navigating the often confusing realm that is freshman year at MIT.” His nominator went on to note that “Wayne's demeanor is perfect for an advisor; he is remarkably kind, patient, and sympathetic. One could never feel afraid to approach Wayne or ask him a question.“

The Outstanding Associate Advisor Award
The Outstanding Associate Advisor Award recognizes an Associate Advisor who demonstrated outstanding dedication to his/her freshman advisees by regularly checking in with them, providing sound advice and always being approachable. This year’s recipients were:

Randolph Li, a senior majoring in Biology, who according to the advisor with whom he worked, was a “a godsend.” Another nominator had the following to offer, “I really admire his personality and friendliness. He listens to me when I complain and never makes us feel like we’re just a job. He definitely made my experience as an MIT freshman awesome.”

Dayan Paez, a senior majoring in Mechanical Engineering, who served as a Residence-Based Associate Advisor (RAA) for three years before graduating this June. The advisor with whom he worked considered Dayan to set “the gold standard with a quiet, confident manner that comes from a maturity rare in people his age.” One of his advisees also reported that Dayan is “cautious in his advice, but supportive.” Furthermore, he “demonstrated generosity with his time and took a deep interest in the success of our senior year."

The Outstanding UROP Mentor Award
The Outstanding UROP Mentor Award, awarded each spring, recognizes both a student research mentor and a faculty research mentor who demonstrated exceptional guidance and teaching undergraduates within a research setting though the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). This year’s recipients were:

Prof. Jeffrey Karp, an HST affiliated Faculty member, who serves as an Instructor in Medicine and Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard Medical School and the Brigham & Women's Hospital and serves as Director of the Laboratory for Advanced Biomaterials and Stem-Cell-Based Therapeutics at Brigham & Women's Hospital, who has actively supervised UROP students since summer 2007. According to one of his nominators, “Dr. Karp is very helpful and provides exceptional guidance for the UROP research I am doing. He is particularly understanding of time commitments, especially with schoolwork.”

David Nguyen, a graduating doctoral student in Health Sciences & Technology, who was an active undergraduate researcher himself while an undergraduate at MIT and who has been an active UROP mentor through his graduate years. According to one of his nominators, he dedicates “time regularly during the week to ensure that [his UROPs] understand the goals behind each experiment.” Furthermore, he “is always available” and “is a great personal mentor” whose UROP students attribute “much of their life's success at the moment” to “his help and dedication.“

The Arthur C. Smith Award
The Arthur C. Smith Award was established in 1996 and honors Professor Smith’s continued service to the MIT community. Each May the Arthur C. Smith Award is presented to a faculty member for meaningful contributions and devotion to undergraduate student life and learning at MIT. 

This year’s recipient was Sylvia T. Ceyer, the John C. Sheehan Professor of Chemistry, and Associate Head of the Department of Chemistry. As the instructor of one of the chemistry GIR subjects (5.111, Principles of Chemical Science), Prof. Ceyer strives to make chemistry accessible and interesting for all students and contributes to the wellbeing of students within the Chemistry department and beyond. She faithfully attends weekly departmental pizza lunches, delighting in informal conversations with the students. She also makes herself readily available to students struggling with academic and/or personal issues. Everything she does to support student life and learning at the Institute has earned the respect of her colleagues, who nominated her enthusiastically for this year’s award.

Earll M. Murman Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising
The May 2008 Awards Convocation marked a milestone with the inauguration of the first Institute-wide award to recognize and reward a faculty member who has served as an excellent advisor and mentor for undergraduates and who has had a significant impact on their personal lives and academic success. The Earll M. Murman Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising is named in honor of Professor (Emeritus) Earll Murman of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

This year’s award recognizes Ole Madsen, Donald and Martha Harleman Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Prof. Madsen has been advising, mentoring, and teaching MIT students since joining the faculty in 1972. Although Prof. Madsen’s abilities as a classroom teacher have been recognized and rewarded many times, it is his unflagging commitment to and belief in the importance of effective undergraduate advising that make him the appropriate winner of this first award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising. Despite his many other departmental responsibilities, he considers advising to be a priority and sets the standard by meeting regularly with all advisees but especially those in academic difficulty. He focuses on confidence building, emphasizing the positive, and finding ways to encourage and motivate. As one nominator said, “Ole is always looking out for students who might be having academic problems and proactively engaging them with learning strategies to help them succeed.”