The University Record, October 2, 2000

Amoco Undergraduate Teaching Award

Laura J. Olsen and Farnam Jahanian

Farnam Jahanian

A superb communicator and mentor, Farnam Jahanian is a pedagogical leader and one of the most effective professors in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). He consistently receives high student ratings in both undergraduate and graduate courses and attracts the best students to his research program. Students who do research under his tutelage graduate from the University as first-class researchers and are heavily recruited by industry and academic institutions.

Professor Jahanian quickly learns each student’s name, even in very large classes, and motivates his students through the individual attention he provides. He makes learning enjoyable through dynamic and clear presentations, and engages students by asking questions that require them to think deeply and answer with insight.

An innovative developer of curricula, Professor Jahanian introduced the new course “Distributed Systems” about building networked systems and applications, an important emerging area in computer science. He has actively participated in developing the undergraduate computer science software curriculum, including initiating a substantive revision to the undergraduate course on operating systems.

Since joining the College of Engineering faculty in 1993, Professor Jahanian has supervised seven doctoral students through the completion of their dissertations. He mentors students by involving them in advanced prototyping and research activities and has supervised more than a dozen undergraduates on research projects. Two have won National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships, six have continued their education at top-ranked universities, and several others have joined firms in the information technology industry.

Professor Jahanian, faculty adviser to the local chapter of the Eta KappaNu Electrical Engineering Honor Society, was named the EECS Professor of the Year for “outstanding performance in teaching and student-faculty relations” by the University’s chapter of Eta Kappa Nu in 1995 and received the College of Engineering teaching excellence award in 1998.

The results of Professor Jahanian’s research are used worldwide to enhance the scalability and reliability of computer networks and distributed systems. Professor Jahanian is an editor of IEEE Transactions on Computer and an associate editor of Real-Time Systems Journal. He has provided visionary leadership to the University’s Software Systems Laboratory, and is making important contributions to the University community as a member of the President’s Information Revolution Commission.

In recognition of his pedagogical leadership; his successful teaching, mentoring, and advising; and his contributions to computer science research and the computer industry, the University of Michigan is pleased to confer upon Farnam Jahanian the Amoco Undergraduate Teaching Award.

Laura J. Olsen

Laura J. Olsen has made exceptional contributions to the Department of Biology’s formal instructional program, teaching two of its largest undergraduate courses, introductory biology and cell biology, as well as several specialized courses for undergraduates. She has developed exciting new lectures for a number of courses, taking a fresh look at the material and designing lectures that engage the students’ intellects and challenge them to think deeply.

She also has contributed to the academic survival and success of many students. They especially appreciate the individual attention she provides, through question periods before and after each class, by answering their many e-mail questions, and during office hours and other meetings.

Professor Olsen strives continuously to improve her teaching. As course director for cell biology—a required course for all cell and molecular biology majors and a popular elective for biology majors—she has incorporated a large body of material from primary research literature and developed an extensive Web page.

Professor Olsen, who joined the Department of Biology faculty in 1993, is an active and effective adviser and mentor for undergraduates, providing guidance as a concentration adviser for more than 100 students per year. Known for her ability to help students identify their academic and career goals and design appropriate course work and activities, Professor Olsen is one of the most sought-after concentration advisers in the department.

She actively supports the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, speaking to discussion groups and mentoring students in her laboratory. Professor Olsen’s research focuses on the assembly of peroxisomes in higher plants, which has widespread applications, including providing a means to investigate the cause of some severe neurological disorders in humans.

She also serves as the faculty representative for the Undergraduate Students of Biology Group and participates in special faculty and student dinners at Martha Cook Residence Hall and in the Women in Science and Engineering Program at Alice Lloyd Residence Hall. Her teaching successes have been recognized with an Excellence in Undergraduate Education Award and the Class of 1923 Memorial Teaching Award, both presented by the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.

Professor Olsen, a member of the American Society for Cell Biology and the International Society of Plant Molecular Biologists, is active in the American Society of Plant Physiologists and chaired the society’s Midwest Section in 1999. In addition to reviewing manuscripts for a number of journals, she reviews grants for several funding agencies and has served on grant study panels for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

For the individual attention and encouragement she gives to students, her outstanding contributions as a teacher and designer of curricular materials, and her scholarship and service, the University of Michigan is pleased to confer upon Laura J. Olsen the Amoco Undergraduate Teaching Award.