May 15, 2013
2013 Faculty teaching awards
Lifetime Achievement Award in Graduate Education
Richard Aslin, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor and professor of brain and cognitive sciences, has an exemplary record as a mentor and teacher. Aslin, who also is director of the Rochester Center for Brain Imaging and a member of the Center for Visual Science, has mentored or co-mentored 10 doctoral candidates since 1996, seven of whom are now faculty members at major research universities.
Aslin, whose research examines behavioral and neural development in infants and young children, is one of a handful of world leaders in the area of developmental cognitive science. He has been at the forefront of understanding the development of cognitive abilities in babies, particularly in two key areas: visual perception and language. In Aslin’s theory of statistical learning, how babies learn is very much related to the statistics of their environment or, in other words, the probability that something will or will not happen.
Aslin received the Boyd McCandless Award and the Early Career Award in developmental psychology from the American Psychological Association, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an honorary doctorate from Uppsala University, and the Goergen Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Learning at the University. He is past president of the International Society for Infant Studies. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and chair of its psychology section. He is also a fellow of the Cognitive Science Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences. He is the past editor of the journal Infancy and currently is an associate editor of the journal Developmental Science.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Michigan State University and a doctorate in child psychology from the University of Minnesota, Aslin spent nine years on the faculty in the Department of Psychology at Indiana University–Bloomington before joining the University in 1984.
The William H. Riker University Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching
During nearly a quarter century of teaching graduate students at the Institute of Optics, Govind Agrawal has left an indelible mark. His former students describe their time in his research group as one of the great experiences of their lives. They acclaim him as a model scientist, supervisor, and leader—and as a supportive and inspirational mentor.
Agrawal, a professor of optics and of physics and a senior scientist at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, has made exceptional contributions to graduate instruction and advising, especially in the doctoral program at the institute.
He is heralded as a giant in his field. His research ranges from optical communications and semiconductor lasers to nonlinear fiber optics and silicon photonics. He is author or coauthor of more than 400 research papers and eight books, including Fiber-Optic Communication Systems and Nonlinear Fiber Optics, both of which are used worldwide for graduate teaching and have helped in training a generation of scientists.
Agrawal is a fellow of the Optical Society of America and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and a life fellow of the Optical Society of India. From 2008 to 2010 Agrawal chaired OSA’s Publication Council and was a member of its Board of Directors. In 2012, IEEE Photonics Society honored him with its prestigious Quantum Electronics Award. He received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2000 from the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi.
Agrawal earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and statistics from the University of Lucknow and a master’s degree and doctorate in physics from the Indian Institute of Technology. He held various research and technical positions at École Polytechnique in Palaiseau, France; City University of New York; and AT&T Bell Laboratories before joining the Institute of Optics in 1989.
Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
Miguel Alonso, an associate professor of optics, is regarded as a brilliant yet down-to-earth teacher who can make connections between pure mathematics and real-world applications with clarity and humor.
Students marvel at his ability to enter a classroom with just chalk and a mug of coffee and promptly paint the board with the foundations of multidimensional vector calculus. Friendly and approachable, Alonso takes time to patiently answer students’ questions.
His concern for students extends beyond the classroom. Alonso is involved with professional societies for underrepresented minorities and in “Optics Outreach” programs for Rochester’s underprivileged public school students.
He is a gifted researcher as well. Alonso’s interests include finding new mathematical models to describe the propagation of waves through a variety of systems. In particular, he is interested in the connection between rays and waves and how to build accurate estimates of wave fields propagating through arbitrary systems based on ray information alone. He also is interested in the theory of partial coherence and the description of partially coherent wave fields in radiometric terms.
One of his recent papers, a tutorial on the use of Wigner functions in optics, was the third most downloaded article from all of the Optical Society of America’s journals during 2012. A fellow of the Optical Society of America, Alonso is a deputy editor of the society’s Optics Express and chair of Spotlight on Optics, an online site that highlights articles from OSA journals.
Alonso graduated as an engineer in physics from the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico City. He received his doctorate from the University’s Institute of Optics in 1996. After postdoctoral work at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, he joined the faculty of the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Cuernavaca. He joined the Institute of Optics in 2003.
G. Graydon Curtis ’58 and Jane W. Curtis Award for Nontenured Faculty Teaching Excellence
Dahpon Ho, assistant professor in the Department of History, is a specialist in East Asian history who brings extraordinary creativity, passion, and rigor to the classroom. Students say they are grateful for the way his courses transform their views of East Asian societies and develop their capacity to see history from different perspectives.
Ho’s colleagues say he is a skilled teacher who can seamlessly integrate audiovisual materials, pedagogical methods, and historical perspectives in his lessons. They consider him a major contributor to the department’s undergraduate curriculum and a gifted mentor for graduate students.
Ho’s principal interests are maritime history and how the flows of trade, people, and goods have shaped life in China and East Asia from the early modern period to the present. His first book project, Sealords Live in Vain, tells the story of how the maritime province of Fujian in southeast China was transformed by trade and piracy into an outlaw frontier in the 17th century. In future projects, Ho wants to examine topics such as population mobility in Chinese history and also the rise of robotics and cybernetics in East Asia.
His courses include Modern China, Modern East Asia, Tibet: History and Myth, The Chinese Revolution, The Korean War, and Modernity through East Asian Eyes.
Before joining the history department, Ho was a history instructor at American University in Washington, D.C. He received his bachelor’s degree in Asian studies, economics, and history from Rice University and his doctorate in history from the University of California– San Diego.