NSM Awards Honor Chemistry Lecturer, 2 Teaching Assistants

UT Dallas’ School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics has honored a faculty member and two teaching assistants for their performance in the 2011-12 academic year.

Hien Nguyen and Kirk Huynh, both teaching assistants in the Chemistry Department, each received the NS&M Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards. Among the faculty, Dr. Claudia Taenzler, senior lecturer in organic chemistry, received the Outstanding Teacher Award.

Dr. Bruce Novak and Dr. Claudia Taenzler

Dr. Bruce Novak congratulates Dr. Claudia Taenzler, a senior lecturer in organic chemistry, who received the Outstanding Teacher Award.

The recipients were nominated by students. Each teaching assistant received a cash prize, and all winners received plaques engraved with a quote from one of their nominating letters.

“This is a wonderful way to recognize our teaching assistants and all our teachers,” said Dr. Bruce Novak, dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, at a reception honoring the winners. “We truly appreciate the efforts they put in day in and day out.”

Nguyen, who received his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from UT Dallas in 2008, is a doctoral student in the Chemistry Department who teaches organic chemistry. “It is very rewarding to know that students understand and appreciate my efforts,” Nguyen said in his biographical materials.

Hien Nguyen

Hien Nguyen

The engraving on Nguyen’s plaque reads: “Hien is an excellent TA, he is really understanding, funny and smart.  Hien has an amazing amount of knowledge and is so patient at explaining organic chemistry concepts so that everyone understands them.” 

Huynh is a junior majoring in biology and neuroscience. He has been a teaching assistant for biochemistry for two semesters. “My experiences as a former student in the course have enabled me to relate and better understand the needs and concerns of current students,” he said in his bio.

Kirk Huynh

Kirk Huynh

Huynh’s plaque reads: “Kirk is very generous and very helpful.  He does an excellent job explaining the material in a clear way to facilitate learning and understanding.”  

Before joining UT Dallas as a senior lecturer in 2009, Taenzler taught university and medical school courses in chemistry and organic chemistry in Germany. She also has taught at Collin County Community College. In 2010, Taenzler volunteered to start a one-hour, once-a-week “problem-solving-class” at UT Dallas to encourage organic chemistry students to gain extra practice and discuss class material.

“I’m very proud of this award,” Taenzler said at the awards reception. “It shows I have standards in my class and that I care about my students, even if it is a tough subject. It also shows that students care about a good education by nominating me.”

Taenzler’s plaque includes the following quote: “Dr. Taenzler is an amazing teacher and a great person.  She has an enormous heart for her students. She teaches a hard subject but in such a way that is so much easier to understand.” 

The School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics has an enrollment of more than 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students, and includes the departments of Biology, Chemistry, Geosciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physics, and Science and Math Education.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].