Thursday, November 6, 2014

Fannie Cox Prize to Harvard Proffesor Kiran Musunuru

Annual award recognizes excellence in undergraduate science teaching

Kiran Musunuru, an assistant professor of stem cell and regenerative biology, have been named the winners of this year’s Fannie Cox Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching.

Created through a gift from Gardner Hendrie ’54, the prize is awarded annually in recognition of exceptional teaching in introductory courses. Recipients receive a $10,000 personal award and $40,000 in unrestricted support for teaching and research. Selections are made by a committee of faculty members from across the sciences, including previous awardees, and are based on the ability to inspire students, instill in them a passion for science, and effectively communicate complex ideas.

“The best teachers instill in their students a passion for their subject and an eagerness to learn, and  Kiran Musunuru accomplish that,” said Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith, also the John H. Finley Jr. Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “They are prime examples of the innovative teaching that happens on a daily basis in Harvard’s classrooms. I hope their colleagues in the faculty will join me in congratulating them for this well-deserved honor.”

In a letter to faculty announcing the award, FAS Dean of Science Jeremy Bloxham cited Musunuru’s dedication in the classroom, passion in their fields, and hands-on teaching styles.

One of Musunuru’s students called him “the best professor I have had at Harvard. He is an amazing lecturer … he’s very accessible to talk about the course, research, and teaching outside of class. His enthusiasm is contagious. I would take any class he taught.”

“It is an honor to be recognized for teaching, but much of the credit must go to Douglas Melton and David Scadden, as department chairs, Kevin Eggan, as head tutor, and William Anderson, as associate director of education, for serving as role models and establishing a culture of excellence in teaching for the Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Department,” Musunuru said. “My guiding principle is to have students learn by working with actual data from real-life cases, to recreate the process of discovery. I love to see the light in students’ eyes when they experience the moments of epiphany that make scientific research so rewarding.”

Musunuru said he plans to use the support to continue a research project — about the effectiveness of classroom vs. online learning — he began last spring as part of an introductory biochemistry course.
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