Freshman Advisor Awards

Leslie Bottari, Staff Associate, UAAP

Relationships with faculty are critical in not only advising and guiding students, but helping them think through their academic plans, such as pursuing internships and global experiences, engaging in UROP, and contemplating future plans for graduate school or professional work. This year, the UAAP recognized seven extraordinary advisors in the following distinct categories:

Creative Advising Activity Award

Ronald Ballinger
Professor in Nuclear Science and Engineering, and Material Science and Engineering
Students praise Ballinger for his generosity and creativity with their advising seminar. “Professor Ballinger’s personal sacrifices speak to how much he cares about his students. Beyond sprinkling our weekly seminars with fascinating anecdotes, treating us to iconic restaurants, and assigning interesting topics for study, he gave us the opportunity to to soar over New England’s fall foliage using innovative aviation.” His advisees were thrilled to board four-person planes. “We learned about the physics of flight while also having fun.”

Outstanding Rookie Advisor Award

T.L. Taylor
Professor in Comparative Media Studies and Writing
Students call Taylor “gnarly” or “kool,” or at least that’s how they describe her office. Her associate advisor said, “When I first entered Professor Taylor’s office to meet her, I felt like I was in another world. There were vibrant colors everywhere. Many agree that Taylor puts her heart into advising and reassures them that following the pathway that will make them the happiest, rather than focusing on grades, is most important.”  

Outstanding Veteran Advisor Award

Preetinder Virk
Associate Professor in Chemical Engineering
Virk is a veteran advisor with many years of experience advising freshmen, but his attitude and approach are always fresh and relevant. His associate advisor commented, “Despite being a generation apart from his advisees, Virk can relate to students because he is very hip, in addition to being very passionate about the topic of the seminar, Chemical Accidents.” An advisee noted, “I was always excited to meet with him because I ended up laughing while learning. He helped me worry less and put grades into perspective.”

Alan J. Lazarus (1953) Excellence in Advising Award

Hazel Sive
Professor in Biology

Sive exemplifies excellence in advising. One advisee expressed it this way: “Professor Sive goes out of her way to make her advisees feel at home in their first few weeks at MIT, and is also extremely sympathetic to the difficult transition students experience from high school to college. I personally struggled with this transition, and I don’t know how I would have navigated my first year without Professor Sive’s guidance.” Another advisee who planned to participate in a lot of extracurricular activities was grateful that Sive encouraged her to scale back and focus on the activities that she was really passionate about. “Thanks to Professor Sive, my advising experience has been central to my freshman year at MIT.”

Excellence in Mentoring Award

Michael Bove Jr.
Principal Research Scientist and Director of the MAS Learning Community

Bove personifies mentorship with students. He gives guidance that impacts both their academic and personal lives. A nominee expressed appreciation for Bove’s mentorship with the following words: “He showed me a new way of looking at things in his advising seminar, in addition to giving real life advice that impacted me personally.” Another advisee said Bove helped her get through a tough semester by giving the guidance she needed and pointing her to resources that could help. “He always gave me the encouragement that I needed to succeed.”

Student Champion Award

Sharmila Chatterjee
Senior Lecturer in the Sloan School of Management and Academic Head of Enterprise Management
Chatterjee’s close guidance and caring attitude have helped multitudes of students find their way at MIT. She has dedicated countless hours to students who are in need, always with a positive and encouraging attitude. One nominator said, “Last semester, she spent many hours helping a freshman who was severely struggling.” Students praise Chatterjee for “taking the job of advising each student individually seriously. She helps students set realistic expectations and always encourages a work-life balance.”

Innovative Seminar Award

Peter Shor
Morss Professor of Applied Mathematics

Among over 50 freshman seminars, some stand out as exceptionally innovative and creative. Shor’s students concur that his seminar is special. One of his students noted, “The Math Problem Solving seminar is among my best and brightest moments here at MIT. The seminar was organized in such a way that everyone got an equal chance to shine.” Another nominee said that his approach to the seminar “gave us a giant confidence boost. His style of seminar was loose yet productive. Professor Shor welcomed outside questions and tangent discussions, which expanded the learning process.”