Celebrating graduate achievement at the 2012 MIT Awards Convocation

May 15, 2012

2012 Grad Student Awards recipients

The 2012 MIT Awards Convocation was held on May 9th, where students and faculty were recognized for their accomplishments on behalf of graduate students with six different awards for entrepreneurship, visual arts, excellence in teaching, mentoring, and contribution to the MIT community.





Birju Shah and Parul Singh, Application of Advanced Entrepreneurial Techniques 15.S24The Patrick J. McGovern ’59 Entrepreneurship Award

Birju Shah and Parul SinghThe Patrick J. McGovern, Jr. ’59 Entrepreneurship Award is presented annually to an individual student or student team that has made a significant impact on the quality, visibility, and overall spirit of entrepreneurship education and support across the Institute.  This year we have two recipients, one individual and one team.  The team McGovern award goes to the newest class at the Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship. The class, Applications of Advanced Entrepreneurial Techniques, came about through a classic case of network effect. A couple of students knew others working on companies-to-be out of their dorm rooms and those students knew other students, and so they all got together one night. Starting as an independent study in the fall, then turning into an IAP class, and now a spring seminar, the class and these seven students are the voices of young entrepreneurs, and they continue to conceive of new initiatives.  Graduate team members include Birju Shah and Parul Singh.




Matthew Everett LawsonThe Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Prize in the Visual Arts

Matthew Everett LawsonThe Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Prize in the Visual Arts is presented annually by the Council for the Arts at MIT to three students who demonstrate excellence in creating a body of work in the visual arts.  Only the first-prize recipient is honored at this ceremony.  This year’s first prize recipient, Matthew Everett Lawson, is a graduate student in the School of Architecture and Planning. Matthew’s art explores and interprets the notion and action of seeing and the operations and capabilities of the eye, the organ of sight. Spanning several genres, including film/video and performance, the level of sophistication and technical expertise of the work is astounding. Matthew was chosen as the winner primarily for the depth, breadth, and poignancy of his art. The harmonic union of art, science, and technology that exemplifies his artwork is a union that so often is the hallmark of the arts at MIT.

 Yifan (Amy) ZhouThe Graduate Student Council Teaching Award

ZhouThe Graduate Student Council Teaching Award is awarded to a professor or teaching assistant for excellence in teaching a graduate-level course.  Yifan (Amy) Zhou’s excellent teaching skills and strong devotion to her students make her a truly exceptional asset to MIT.  At Sloan, Amy successfully taught a class of mid-career students some very difficult concepts with patience and good humor. She invested a tremendous amount of time in ensuring her recitations were easy to digest for students from all backgrounds (including those who couldn’t recall high-school algebra). Amy responded extremely well to feedback; rapidly adapting her teaching style to this unique group. She was flexible, available, generous and extremely knowledgeable in her field.  Amy went well above and beyond to ensure that the students truly understood the underlying concepts and principles.

 Adrian Chi-Yan LiuThe Goodwin Medal

Adrian Chi-Yan LiuThe Goodwin Medal is presented to a graduate student whose performance of teaching duties are “conspicuously effective over and above ordinary excellence.”  In ways that go well beyond his classroom teaching, Adrian Chi-Yan Liu inspires our undergraduates with his passion for physics and the clarity with which he communicates it.  “He was always the correct amount of helpful,” wrote one nominator. “He would get you out of the tricky spots and help you to understand the underlying concepts, but he never gave away too much information.”  Performing so far beyond the norm as a graduate student teacher, he has been called the single best recitation instructor the physics department has seen in many years.  “Adrian Liu is a teaching legend. Full stop,” wrote another nominator. “He inspires me, and many of my peers, to want to be more like him, and I think that is the mark of a great teacher.

 Professor David KaiserThe Frank E. Perkins Award

David KaiserThe Frank E. Perkins Award is given each year to a professor who has served as an excellent advisor and mentor for graduate students.  Somehow this year’s recipient, who produces what is unanimously acclaimed as the best work in his field, is never, ever too busy for his students. Professor David Kaiser’s office door is always open and his advice is full of wisdom and warmth.  “His was a calm voice of reason during a major moment of decision in my life,” wrote one nominator.  Professor Kaiser brings pure generosity, care, humor, and respect to his relationships with students. He is an excellent example of what it means to be a mentor, teaching our students how to give advice as well as take it.

 Patrick BarraganThe Karl Taylor Compton Prize

Patrick BarraganThe Compton Prize is the one of highest distinctions given by MIT to students or student organizations.  One was awarded to a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering, an active member of the MIT Glass Lab – and a pole vault coach who has helped produce 13 All-American pole vaulters for MIT.  In eight years at the Institute, he’s earned four degrees — which comes out to a pretty good average.  As one of his admirers told us, “Nothing Patrick Barragan takes on is second best.”  The nomination letters streamed in from all across campus — and their descriptions of Patrick’s intense dedication to countless activities make us distinctly suspicious …that there’s cloning involved.  With the pole vault team, his individualized coaching has transformed athletes who were about to be cut from the team into All-American pole vaulters.  “He never gives up on us,” wrote one nominator, “even when we have given up on ourselves.”  As another observed:  “MIT pole vaulters feel two forces pushing and pulling on them, always:  gravity…and Patrick.”  He has a gift for teaching — for leading students to the right answer rather than leaping in to tell them.  Write him a 2AM email – and don’t be surprised if you get a detailed response right back.  As one nominator explained, “Patrick is a non-stop helping machine who is a fixture in the MIT community.”  As another fan put it, “Whether [he’s] fixing a robot, debugging Python code, or explaining differential equations, I have never seen Patrick be less than enthusiastic or wear any expression but a smile.”  “He is exactly the kind of person who makes MIT a community, rather than a collection of individual human beings who happen to live and work here.”

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