UAAP Recognizes Faculty Contributions to Teaching and Advising

Leslie Bottari, Staff Associate, UAAP

UAAP is pleased to announce the selection of three distinguished MIT faculty for the 2015 Institute Convocation awards:

Arthur Smith Award for Distinguished Service to Student Life and Learning

Rebecca Saxe
Associate Professor, Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Rebecca SaxeDescribed by nominators as “a truly outstanding faculty member,” Saxe is known for the quality and depth of her investment in students. She cares deeply and prioritizes interactions with students, inspiring and illuminating them with humor and joy. One noted, “My memories of Rebecca center on her genuine excitement in learning about me, my work, her clear advice and obvious desire to support me.” Another said, “She has left a most profound and indelible mark on my life.”

Saxe “seems super-human, being able to balance the endless demands of running a productive neuroscience research laboratory, Institute service, and a strong student mentorship,” wrote one nominator. She serves on the Committee on Academic Performance and co-chairs the Presidential Committee on Distinguished Fellowships. “She holds true to this mission and is committed to the student experience both inside and beyond the classroom,” said another.

Everett Moore Baker Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

Tonio Buonassisi
Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Tonio BuonassisiBuonassisi is described as genuinely eager to help and as someone who always makes himself available to students. According to one nomination, “Professor Buonassisi makes certain students understand concepts and he focuses on in-class interactions to deeply teach material.”

His priority is that students learn; his responses to questions and class discussion promote understanding of the material. In addition, Buonassisi has a terrific sense of humor that builds the teacher-student relationship. His connection with students is evident and strong. His bright, eager smile sincerely welcomes students. Great teachers have an innate sense of when students need help and provide support to those individuals. Buonassisi brings out the best in students and inspires them to want to learn.

Earll M. Murman Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising

John G. Brisson II
Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director, MIT-SUTD Collaboration

John Brisson IIBrisson is known for his open-door policy, caring attitude, relentless advocacy, and his ability to help students build self-confidence. Students recognize him for always making himself available; they count on his approachability and sincere interest in their academic progress and personal growth. One noted, “He gives some pretty great pep talks!”

Describing Brisson as an advisor, nominators used phrases like “unrelenting supporter”; “compassionate mentor”; “motivated to do what is in the student’s best interest”; and “pushes students when needed—and pushes back on the system as needed.” Brisson distinguishes himself through his commitment to “go above and beyond” on behalf of his students.