Chemistry Educator Lauded for Teaching Excellence
Assistant Professor Credits Faculty Mentors for Teaching Her to Balance Effort Between the Lab and the Classroom
May 14, 2009
Stefan, an assistant professor of chemistry and affiliate to the Materials Science and Engineering Department, has taught at UT Dallas since August 2007.
She teaches organic chemistry and polymer chemistry for undergraduates and a chemistry course and material science course for graduate students.
“Making the biggest positive impact on student education” is one of the main criteria students, faculty and staff use to nominate educators for the Outstanding Teaching Award. Stefan credits her faculty mentor, Dr. Yves Chabal, the TI Distinguished Chair in Nanoelectronics and department head of materials science and engineering, for teaching her to divide her energies equally between the laboratory and the classroom.
“I’m really grateful to Dr. Chabal, who is giving me advice at every step,” Stefan said. “He’s one of the people who told me, ‘You have to do well in teaching and in researching—don’t compromise.’ ”
Stefan also credited Associate Professor Michael Biewer for “always encouraging me to be better and better.”
Stefan researches flexible plastic displays—or plastic electronics—and drug coating polymers that release medication in specific “tunable” ways to tailor treatments and restrict the exposure of drugs to just the area needing treatment.
She was notified this month of acceptance of one paper in the Journal of Macromolecules, and she has submitted four more manuscripts to the journals of Advanced Materials and Macromolecules.
“I am very proud of Mihaela’s achievements and feel fortunate to have her at UT Dallas,” Chabal said. “She will be key to the success of both UT Dallas and our department. She is a role model for other young assistant professors and for people involved in the mentoring program.”
“I want to help create a new generation of scientists able to think across disciplines—the scientist of the future,” Stefan said. “I think the most important thing is that I never compromise teaching for research—they both have to go hand in hand.”