by Ira Hafer
Recipients of the 2021-2022 Prize Teaching Fellowship were celebrated at a dinner on October 11, where they were honored for their accomplishments and thanked for being an inspiration to their students as Teaching Fellows. Dean Cooley spoke in admiration of the recipients of the fellowship, acknowledging that a Ph.D. program is not only an opportunity to hone expertise and research skills in a doctoral candidate’s field, but is also a chance to “disseminate that knowledge out in the world where it will have the greatest impact.” The fellowship is given to Ph.D. students who have left an indelible impression on their undergraduate students and show great promise as educators.
This year’s recipients represent a variety of programs within GSAS: Pedro Casavilca Silva (Economics); Anna Duensing (African American Studies and History); Hugo Havranek (Philosophy); Ian Hsu (Chemistry); Micah Khater (History and African American Studies); Moya Mapps (Philosophy); Tyler Myers (Chemistry); Kimberly Wong (Psychology); and Josh Zimmer (Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry). Since 1998, Prize Teaching Fellows are nominated by students and supervising faculty members, who are invited to describe the impact Ph.D. students have had in the classroom. The Prize Teaching Fellowship is among the highest honors that Yale bestows to its graduate students.
Fifth-year Economics Ph.D. student Pedro Casavilca Silva expressed gratitude for the faculty he has had the opportunity to work with as a Teaching Fellow, as well as the students in his courses, as both have influenced his philosophy and approach to teaching. When asked about a memory that resonates with him regarding his teaching experience, he spoke about a 100-level economics class: “I got along really well with these amazing students and maybe that’s why at the end of the final review session previous to their final exam, I was honored to receive their claps and thanks, which I took as reflecting that I could contribute to their learning.” He reiterated his gratitude that he could contribute to the progress of students in all the economics courses for which he was a TF. He cites teaching experience itself as an enriching opportunity, but also the professors with whom he worked: “Seeing firsthand how professors balanced their known research skills with great teaching opened my perspective of what a professor is and gave me among the best examples of that.”
Prize Teaching Fellow Anna Duensing (’22 Ph.D.) also expressed immense gratitude for the honor, particularly to Suzanne Young, formerly the Director of Graduate and Postdoctoral Teaching Development at the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, who “generously offered her time, insights, and guidance […] and is an invaluable resource on campus.” Like Casavilca Silva, Duensing cited having “incredible teachers and mentors” as well as advisors “who prioritized teaching and modeled the importance of developing a scholarly practice and philosophy that viewed teaching and research in concert.” Duensing recalled experiences that helped her develop her teaching philosophy and approach in the classroom, including her time as a museum educator at the Tenement Museum in New York.
The 2021-22 Prize Teaching Fellows represent a love of learning, a commitment to the field of study, and a dedication to educating students. The prize is a testament to their outstanding performance as teachers.