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Three Eberly graduate students awarded Outstanding Teaching Award

4 April 2024

Three Eberly College of Science graduate students, Benton Bickerton, Yin Tang, and Morgan Vincent have been awarded the Harold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Award. This award is sponsored jointly by the Graduate School, through the Harold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Award endowment, and the Office of the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education.

This award recognizes students who have served as graduate teaching assistants for at least two semesters within the last two years. These students, in their time as graduate teaching assistants, have demonstrated outstanding teaching performance and were nominated by a faculty or staff member for their excellence.

Benton Bickerton

Benton Bickerton
Chemistry graduate student Benton Bickerton. Credit: Jillian Wesner

Bickerton is a graduate student in chemistry in the lab of Elizabeth Elacqua, assistant professor of chemistry. He has served as a TA for five semesters for three courses. Additionally, in the fall of 2023, Bickerton was a recipient of the 4k TA Award for developing an experiment for the honors organic chemistry laboratory course.

“Benton knows what it means to work hard to achieve his goals, and both his academic and professional profiles corroborate his drive and work ethic,” said Sheryl Dykstra, associate teaching professor, in a nomination letter.

“Benton makes everyone in the class feel capable of not only completing, but excelling in Chem 213,” said an undergraduate student in a teaching evaluation.

Outside of his teaching, Bickerton has mentored numerous undergraduate and graduate students in his research.

“Benton is one of the strongest TAs in our department; he’s committed to learning and distilling his passion for chemistry and teaching to his students both in the undergraduate curriculum and research laboratory,” said Elacqua in a nomination letter.

Yin Tang

Yin Tang
Statistics graduate student Yin Tang. Credit: Jillian Wesner.

Tang is a graduate student in statistics in the lab of Bing Li, Verne M. Willaman Professor of Statistics and Graduate Program Chair. Tang has served as an instructor for four semesters for four different courses and as a TA for two semesters for three different courses, teaching over 100 students.

“I have worked with numerous student instructors and teaching assistants, and Yin Tang is one of the best,” said Zhibiao Zhao, associate professor of statistics, in a nomination letter. “He is reliable, responsible, and dedicated.”

Tang was also a recipient of the 2023 Harkness Award for Excellence in Statistics Instruction from the Department of Statistics after being nominated by numerous faculty members as well as one of his graduate student peers. An undergraduate student said in a teaching evaluation that Yin “goes above and beyond to help his students, constantly trying to help them improve and taking the time out of his day.”

Tang has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to his teaching with several graduate students speaking highly about his teaching.

“Yin has grown a lot as a student instructor since his first time teaching a class,” said Prabhani Kuruppumullage Don, associate research professor, in a nomination letter. “He has shown his commitment to taking a thoughtful approach to continuously improve his teaching.”

Morgan Vincent

Morgan Vincent
Chemistry graduate student Morgan Vincent. Credit: Jillian Wesner.

Vincent is a graduate student in chemistry in the labs of Alexey Silakov, assistant professor of chemistry, and Ryan J. Elias, professor and associate head of food science. She has served as a TA for three semesters for three courses, has taught multiple food science department short courses, serves as an Eberly College of Science Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Center Tutor, and founded a teaching community for graduate students.

Vincent also goes beyond the classroom to improve her teaching skills by assessing how students understand electron configurations after course lectures, a project she will include in her dissertation.

Silakov and Elias, in a nomination letter, described Morgan as “a rare graduate student who is truly passionate about teaching undergraduates and regards her teaching assistantship as a critical part of her graduate training.”

“Morgan has truly gone above and beyond as a teacher,” said Tate Geiger an undergraduate engineering science major, in a nomination letter. “To Morgan, teaching is so much more than writing good homework problems or giving helpful feedback — it’s about inspiring students to learn.”

Vincent is a guest speaker on pedagogical content for new chemistry graduate students, where she co-leads discussions and activities with Jacqueline Bortiatynski, teaching professor and director of the Center for Excellence in Science Education.

“All of the students Morgan mentors, both graduate and undergraduate, as well as her faculty collaborators value her knowledge, passion, and drive to become an inspirational educator,” said Bortiatynski, in a nomination letter.