Graduate School honors two CBE researchers for exceptional teaching

Wednesday, May 19, 2021
by Denise Valenti and the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

The Graduate School has honored two students from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering with a 2021 Graduate School Teaching Award. A total of 34 such awards were given this year, with 10 coming from engineering.

The awards recognize those graduate students who have made exceptional contributions to undergraduate teaching over the previous calendar year (spring and fall 2020). Each awardee received a $1,000 cash prize.

Nicholas Caggiano, fourth-year Ph.D. student, was additionally singled out for a special commendation as the top award winner in the engineering division. For the second time he taught "Design, Synthesis, and Optimization of Chemical Processes," the capstone design project for CBE seniors. Caggiano guided the students in designing and simulating a biopharmaceutical manufacturing process, a timely topic amid the global rush toward COVID-19 vaccines.

Caggiano “was single-handedly responsible for the success of the course in achieving its educational objectives,” said Athanassios Panagiotopoulos, the Susan Dod Brown Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and department chair. Panagiotopoulos cited Caggiano’s “enthusiasm, love of learning, and willingness to listen carefully and address all issues at the appropriate level of detail.”  

Students praised Caggiano for being available at odd hours to answer questions. “Nick provided amazing support to his students beyond what is expected of a typical AI,” said one student, who found Caggiano was “always patient and approachable.”

Christopher Ushay, third-year Ph.D. student, was awarded for teaching "Mathematics in Engineering," a course that focuses on ordinary differential equations with an introduction to partial differential equations.