2020: Olivia Brode-Roger

Olivia Brode-Roger is a “student whisperer,” according to one faculty nominator. A stunning number of students clamor to agree, describing her as “the embodiment of everything that is right with MIT” as well as a “model of empathy, dedication, and sheer joy in teaching.”

To recognize her remarkable skill with instruction, Olivia has been awarded the Goodwin Medal.

Adept at devising memorable analogies to explain highly complex material, Olivia has “an attitude of faith in her students,” and is invested in each one’s personal growth. She prioritizes student wellbeing, through serving as a “lifeline” when students struggle with the demands of MIT coursework to organizing a Thanksgiving meal for students staying on campus for the holiday.

When she noticed extended wait times for office hours, Olivia even built a web application to track demand and reallocate staff to minimize student waits.

Visibly passionate about teaching, Olivia has developed a “pedagogical arsenal that she thinks and cares deeply about.” She frequently requests feedback, adjusting her teaching to better serve students. Several faculty commented on how teaching alongside Olivia improved their teaching.

One student summed up a lengthy review with “tl;dr: someone please give her a medal,” while others turned to liturgical language to describe her as “a literal saint” and “a blessing from the sky.”

A master’s student in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Olivia also attended MIT as an undergraduate. In her time at the Institute, she has been a teaching assistant in eight classes as well as served as a Teaching Development Fellow.