Three honored with Goergen teaching Awards

Three honored with Goergen teaching Awards

Three University professors were honored October 11 as recipients of the 2017 Goergen Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Established in 1997, the award recognizes distinctive teaching accomplishments of faculty in Arts, Science, and Engineering. This year’s ceremony was held at Feldman Ballroom in Douglass Commons.

2017 Goergen Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching recipients, l-r: Thomas Brown (Optics), Katherine Mannheimer (English), Sina Ghaemmaghami (Biology) (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

“The recipients embody all that we value in teaching at the University,” says Dean of the College Jeffrey Runner. “Students change over the years. We can’t keep doing the same thing. Good teachers react to that and get the best outcome, something these three recipients all have in common.”

Thomas Brown (optics), Sina Ghaemmaghami (biology), and Katherine Mannheimer (English) were nominated by the chairs of their respective departments and chosen by Runner; Gloria Culver, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences; and Wendi Heinzelman, dean of the Hajim School for Engineering and Applied Sciences.



The Goergen Awards are named for University Trustee and Board Chair Emeritus Robert Goergen ’60 and his wife, Pamela, who created an endowed fund in 1997 to establish and provide ongoing support for the awards. In 2010, the Goergen Awards program was redesigned to make larger awards focused exclusively on excellence in undergraduate teaching by individual faculty members.

Brown joined the University in 1987 and was promoted to professor of optics in 2008. The native of Ratodero, Pakistan, is a 1975 graduate of Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, and earned his doctorate degree at the University’s Institute of Optics in 1987.

Ghaemmaghami has been an assistant professor of biology since joining the University in 2012. Born in Lexington, Kentucky, but raised in Iran, he earned his bachelor of science degree in biochemistry from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1997, and his PhD in biochemistry from Duke University in 2001.

Mannheimer joined the faculty in 2006 and has been an associate professor of English since 2012. The Anchorage, Alaska, native received her bachelor’s degree in literature from Harvard University in 2001 and her doctorate degree in comparative literature from Yale in 2006.

Professor of Optics Thomas Brown. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Thomas Brown
Hometown: Ratodero, Pakistan
Joined University: 1987
Since 2008: Professor of Optics, The Institute of Optics, Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Degrees: Bachelor’s in physics, Gordon College (Wenham, Massachusetts), 1979; doctorate in optics, The Institute of Optics, 1987.
Personal: Lives in Rochester with wife, Terry. They have three adult children, and seven grandchildren. Enjoys fishing, canoeing, and do-it-yourself repairs.
Quotable: “I’ve known Tom for over 20 years, first as his student and then as his colleague. He is able to adjust his curriculum to accommodate those students who may be completely unfamiliar with optics to those who consider themselves quite accomplished in the discipline. He does this by taking the time to talk to each student individually, encouraging them to participate in lecture, and making sure that everyone feels that their questions are valid. He is very approachable and his soft demeanor puts the students at ease.” — Jennifer Kruschwitz, assistant professor of optics


Assistant Professor of Biology Sina Ghaemmaghami. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Sina Ghaemmaghami
Hometown: Born in Lexington, Kentucky; raised in Tehran, Iran
Joined University: 2012
Since 2012: Assistant professor of biology
Degrees: Bachelor’s in biochemistry, McMaster University (Ontario, Canada), 1997; PhD in biochemistry, Duke University, 2001
Personal: Lives in Rochester with wife, Brenda. Enjoys biking, gardening, and weekend road trips.
Quotable: “Sina invests tremendous amounts of energy and time to help students succeed. He was the first in our department to video record his lectures. He often listens to his lectures from the previous year before he gives the newest incarnation. He edits his lectures for clarity, and when due to a technical mishap the recording fails, he goes through the trouble of re-recording the lecture on his own time so that the students have access to complete information.” — Michael Welte, professor and chair, Department of Biology


Associate Professor of English Katherine Mannheimer. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster )

Katherine Mannheimer
Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska
Joined University: 2006
Since 2012: Associate professor of English and director of graduate studies in English
Degrees: AB in literature, Harvard, 2001; PhD in comparative literature, Yale, 2006
Personal: Lives in Brighton, a suburb of Rochester, with husband Josh Gewolb and their 2-year-old daughter. Enjoys reading, classical music, and “discovering new natural and cultural delights in the region.”
Quotable: Every classroom helmed by Professor Mannheimer has the atmosphere of productive stress, of rigorously learning something difficult from an exacting but extremely patient and generous instructor. She’s one of the most brilliant, generous, scrupulously professional, and skilled educators I have ever known. — Margaret Speer ’15

Jim Mandelaro, October 2017

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