Four faculty members honored for excellence in mentoring graduate students

Tuesday, May 26, 2020
by tdwyer

Four faculty members honored for excellence in mentoring graduate students

Denise Valenti, Office of Communications, May 26, 2020

Four Princeton University faculty members have been named recipients of the Graduate Mentoring Awards by the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning and will be honored during the Graduate School’s virtual Hooding ceremony at 4 p.m., Friday, May 29.

The award winners are Yuxin Chen, assistant professor of electrical engineeringIleana Cristea, professor of molecular biologyBrandon Stewart, assistant professor of sociology; and Judith Weisenfeld, the Agate Brown and George L. Collord Professor of Religion and chair of the Department of Religion.

The mentoring award recognizes Princeton faculty members who nurture the intellectual, professional and personal growth of their graduate students. Graduate students nominate faculty members for the award, and they serve on the committee that selects the winners together with faculty members, senior staff from the McGraw Center and the deputy dean of the Graduate School. The award honors faculty in each academic division (engineering, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences) and includes a $1,000 prize and a commemorative gift.

Yuxin Chen, a faculty member since 2017, studies the mathematical foundations of data science, optimization, high-dimensional statistics, statistical learning, information theory, and their applications to medical imaging and computational biology. Students said they appreciated Chen’s thorough explanations of complex materials, as well as his accessibility and constructive feedback on their work. “Even if he is busy, he is always willing to discuss ideas or proof details with me for hours, which is always fruitful,” said an advisee. Chen also serves as an exceptional role model. “Perhaps the most important thing I learned from him is not about the algorithms and proofs, but the philosophy of the academic life,” said a student. “From him, I see what the life of an enthusiastic and self-disciplined scholar would be.” Another advisee said, “Yuxin is the one that helps me maximize my potential as a scholar, which in my opinion is the defining characteristic of an exceptional adviser.”

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