Category Archives: Awards

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Raymond Shaw

Raymond ShawThis week’s Dean’s Teaching Showcase recipient is Raymond Shaw from the Department of Physics, winner of the 2016 Michigan Tech Research Award. Shaw was selected by College of Sciences and Arts Dean Bruce Seely precisely because his efforts in the classroom forcefully demonstrate the unity of teaching and research and signal no necessary tension exists between these two core faculty responsibilities.

Seely says “That past fall, the Physics Department honored Ray for the Research Award in the manner it had recognized several other research award recipients — assigning them to teach a large lecture class. In Ray’s case, this was PH 2200, which covered electricity and magnetism for 390 students. He discovered large classes requires ‘one part professor and two parts theater director.’

“Fortunately, he enjoyed significant assistance from a demo crew that prepared attention-grabbing experiments suitable for classroom use, a dedicated assistant who managed iClicker content and online homework systems, the office staff that printed and organized 400 exam booklets every few weeks, and the physics learning center coaches who assisted students with homework and exams.

“At the end of the term, student evaluations ranked the class at 4.36 on the seven dimensions reported on the  evaluation form. This is a very good score for a large introductory class.

“Ray identified several keys to this success, including support from Physics faculty, John Jaszczak, Wil Slough, and Bob Weidman, with extensive experience in large-lecture sections, who shared lecture materials and staging tips, and provided occasional pep talks. In addition, help from the testing center and IT staff members further confirmed that such courses are taught by a team, not just a professor.

“When asked about his contributions to making this class work, Ray noted that because  big classes can seem impersonal, he ‘took it as a challenge to let my students get to know me as a person.’

“He spiced up lectures with personal anecdotes related to the course, like his rapidly-flashing blinker (RC time constants) or electromagnetic phenomena in his research. Other times he used more random elements related to life in general. He once asked students to provide iClicker responses on possible ways of disciplining his son for breaking the TV. (Corporal punishment won, but he did not take that advice) His point — students respond when taught by faculty who are real people and who care about them. As one student commented, ‘Every class was enjoyable due to the somewhat ‘nerdy’ humor followed by funny references to his son (absolutely hysterical).’

“But perhaps as important was Ray’s enthusiasm for the class. Students clearly recognized his passion and excitement about physics. One student said, ‘Your enthusiasm for Physics is inspiring. It makes the lectures much more enjoyable.’  Another added, ‘Your enthusiasm was great. You were always passionate and in a good mood.’

“This might not seem like rocket science, but teaching seems to work better in environments where faculty exhibit their enthusiasm about their field and show how they care about students and their learning.”

Shaw will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with 11 other showcase members, and is now eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer recognizing introductory or large class teaching, innovative or outside the classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.

by Michael Meyer, Director, William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning

Outstanding Teaching and Scholarship Awards For Fall 2016

Bishnu_Tiwari          Gaoxue_Wang          Fan_Yang





In order from left to right: Bishnu Tiwari (Advisors: Dr. Yap and Dr. Zhang), Gaoxue Wang (Advisor: Dr. Pandey), and Fan Yang (Advisor: Dr. Shaw).

Congratulations to Bishnu Tiwari, Gaoxue Wang, and Fan Yang for receiving the Fall 2016 Outstanding Teaching and Outstanding Scholarship Award. They have demonstrated their exceptional ability as a teacher and commitment to their research.

Shaw Wins Research Award


Raymond Shaw
Raymond Shaw

Congratulations to Raymond Shaw (Atmospheric Sciences, Physics) for winning the 2016 Research Award.

In the words of Ravi Pandey, chair of the Department of Physics, Shaw is “widely recognized in the national and international community of atmospheric scientists investigating cloud microphysical processes.”

His research is both detailed and big—from the minutiae of raindrops to understanding the patterns of cloud formation. As part of this research, he collaborates with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to lead a team of scientists to conduct holographic imaging of cloud droplets from an airplane laboratory. The research was published in Science last fall and was the subject of a Michigan Tech Research Magazine story.

“The unifying aspect of my research is the atmosphere,” Shaw says, adding that the process of research inspires him. “It’s like working on an incredibly diverse set of intertwined and nested puzzles. Every now and then a burst of insight allows us to solve a part of one of them.”

Shaw is also recognized for his teaching and says that teaching is another aspect of research. “Students learn at a deeper level when they dig into a research problem,” he explains.

“The advisor-grad student relationship is the closest thing I know to an apprenticeship, where the grad student masters a craft by working side by side with a mentor.”

He considers Alex Kostinski (Physics) his own mentor who has helped him on Michigan Tech’s campus from day one. Along with Pandey’s support and the insight from his students, Shaw says, “Perhaps it sounds quaint, but I do feel like being recognized with the MTU research award is a larger recognition of the colleagues and students with whom I have worked.”

From Tech Today, by Allison Mills.

2015 Distinguished SPS Chapter

The Michigan Tech chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) has been selected as one of the Distinguished SPS Chapters. The chapter here has been named either Outstanding or Distinguished every year since 2009.

The Michigan Tech chapter is part of Zone 09. SPS Chapter Awards are selected by Zone Councilors and Associate Zone Councilors of the SPS National Council. Some of the award criteria include outreach efforts and contributions to student recruitement and retention.