Graduate students honored for excellence in teaching

June 2, 2006, 7 p.m.

The Princeton Graduate School has given awards to five graduate students in recognition of their dedication and effectiveness in teaching.

The annual Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni Teaching Awards are sponsored by the graduate alumni and are selected by the Graduate School administration. The four 2006 winners are Yuri Corrigan of the Slavic languages and literatures department, Curtis Huttenhower of the computer science department, Nathaniel Klemp of the politics department, and Martin Monti of the psychology department.

A fifth student, Diego Hofman of the physics department, received the Friends of the International Center Excellence in Teaching Award, which is given annually to an international graduate student.

All were honored at the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni's Tribute to Teaching Dinner on June 2 during Reunions.

Corrigan, a third-year student, earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. At Princeton, he served as a preceptor for "The History of Russian Literature, 1860-1917," a survey course that introduces students to numerous literary classics, such as "Anna Karenina" and "The Brothers Karamazov." Describing Corrigan as a "born teacher," Professor Ellen Chances said his precepts "were alive, energetic and electric."

Huttenhower, a second-year student, earned his bachelor's degree -- as a triple major in computer science, mathematics and chemistry -- from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and his master's degree from Carnegie Mellon University. This year, Huttenhower was a preceptor for the new integrated science course, which emphasizes interdisciplinary study, and was praised by faculty and students alike for his generous and innovative teaching approach. Students singled out the value of the precept notes he prepared and distributed weekly. One student described them as "a wonder in themselves for their lucid layout of theory, demonstrative examples and highly readable style."

Klemp came to Princeton three years ago after graduating from Stanford University. This year he led precepts in two courses: "Introduction to Political Theory" and "Ethics and Public Policy." His students consistently described his classes as "awesome" and "magnificent" and lauded his ability to encourage class discussion and help students after class. The faculty members with whom Klemp worked noted that he always was well prepared. Professor Stephen Macedo said, "Nate is a natural teacher but he does not skimp on preparation."

Monti, a third-year student, earned his undergraduate degree from Bocconi University in Italy. This year he taught precepts in "Fundamentals of Neuroscience" and "Quantitative Methods in Psychology" -- foundational courses with large enrollments. Students in the two courses emphasized Monti's enthusiasm and his supportive approach, such as his prompt responses to e-mails and the way he conveyed complicated material. "He has the gift of being able to open up interesting discussions and making everybody participate," said one student. 

Hofman, a second-year student and a native of Argentina, received his bachelor's degree from the Universidad de San Andres and his master's degree from the Universidad de Buenos Aires. This year he served as a preceptor for two courses, "Classical Mechanics" and "Principles of Quantum Mechanics," which are key courses for sophomores considering majoring in physics. In both courses, faculty members praised Hofman for his patience in helping students in weekly problem sessions and his effectiveness in communicating concepts "elegantly and simply." One student wrote that "he leaves no one behind, and devotes his time equally to everyone in turn."