Award Recipients


Leah Dickens, doctoral candidate in psychology
Leah’s teaching philosophy has two major components: engagement and communication. She regularly receives outstanding ratings as a teaching assistant and as a primary instructor for undergraduate classes. Leah exceeds expectations in other ways as well: She has organized multiple graduate teaching workshops, compiled teaching resources for new teaching assistants, and mentored undergraduates for graduate school applications. Her adviser comments that “Leah is that rare scholar who not only possesses enormous scientific expertise, but also has an enthusiasm and ability to share knowledge with students.”


Christopher Baillie, doctoral candidate in ecology, evolution, and marine biology
Christopher, who teaches general biology and ecology, is credited for redesigning the lab portion of the ecology course to take advantage of virtual learning and Web resources to teach students everything from conducting and analyzing experiments to extracting data from existing literature and synthesizing the information. His innovative teaching style is emblematic of his commitment to excellence in teaching and his overall approach to graduate school and being a scientist.

Kristi Girdharry, doctoral candidate in English
Kristi, a third-year doctoral candidate, is praised by her students as kind, supportive, and demanding. Her faculty advisers say that the high quality of Kristi’s teaching is extremely unusual for a graduate student. Of her teaching philosophy, Kristi writes, “As a composition teacher, encouraging a deep understanding of how reading and writing are connected as socially situated activities, and the practice of effective and ethical communication of writing in various contexts, are what drive my pedagogy. I work to foster agency, authority, and critical thinking.”


Daniella Halperin, doctoral candidate in counseling and applied educational psychology
Daniella’s teaching in the Department of Counseling and Applied Educational Psychology is characterized as dedicated, enthusiastic, and truly outstanding. She describes her teaching philosophy as following the “scaffolding model”: In the learning environment, scaffolds, or learning support systems, are gradually added and continually modified so that deeper learning can occur, and eventually those scaffolds can be removed. Daniella’s hands-on and supportive teaching style make her an excellent resource for students.

Elizabeth Markle, doctoral candidate in counseling psychology
Elizabeth describes her teaching philosophy as grounded in enthusiasm, curiosity, humanity, and application. She is dedicated to providing her students with a high-quality experience in the classroom, and her teaching supervisor describes her as “personable, authentic, interested, and spunky.” Her students rank her as one of the best teachers they have had at Northeastern.


Osso Vahabzadeh, doctoral candidate in communications and signal processing
Osso’s teaching in the engineering program is characterized by efficiency, hard work, and a quiet determination to help students master the course material. His comprehensive knowledge of the material and meticulous attention to detail made him an excellent resource for students, and a valuable source of feedback on student performance for professors. Faculty uniformly describe him as the perfect teaching assistant.


Jennifer Sopchockchai, doctoral candidate in English

Nizar Zaarour, doctoral candidate in industrial engineering