Outstanding TA Commendations, Offices of the Graduate Dean and Registrar

The Graduate Dean’s Office and the Office of the Registrar recognize outstanding teaching assistants (TAs) on the basis of student comments in the end-of-term Teaching Quality Feedback Reports (TQFRs). TAs receive an email from the Graduate Dean’s Office and a small gift. Though informal, these commendations illustrate how TAs have gone above and beyond to help students learn in their courses, recitations, labs, and office hours.


Winter 2018-19:

Hyeongjoo Row, TA for ChE/Ch 164 - Hyeongjoo is a G2 in Chemical Engineering. His student’s noted that his understanding of the material made him effective at explaining concepts during office hours. In addition, he made himself available outside of hours. One student described him as “simply the best TA I've ever had, very knowledgeable and helpful.”

Christopher Lamartina, TA for Ch 041B - Chris is a senior in Chemistry. Chris’s passion and enthusiasm for chemistry definitely shone through in his interactions with students. He was also good at reviewing important topics for quizzes and exams. Unilaterally he was described as amazing, great, and incredible as well as encouraging, friendly, and kind. One student wrote “He understood the material very well and could explain concepts very well, sometimes even better than the professor.”

Fall 2018-19:

Andrew Ylitalo, TA for ChE152 - Andy is a G2 in Chemical Engineering. When students give comments like “Truly a top-tier TA” and “One of the best TAs I have had in my entire life” you have to believe that something is going right! Andy’s students appreciated his responsiveness and ability to explain topics, often providing excellent and much-appreciated feedback. As another student said, “I don't think he could have done better.”

Jorge Castillo Castellanos and Stacy Larochelle, TAs for GE/ESE 118 - Both Stacy and Jorge are G4s in Geophysics. We couldn’t recognize one and not then other, when students were commenting “Jorge and Stacy were the best TAs I've ever had.” Both of them were noted for their dedication, preparedness, availability, understanding, and patience when explaining. It also appears that they were often willing to stay after office hours to help. One student put it as “I honestly don't know how I would have gotten through the course without them!!”

Winter 2017-18:

Brendon McNicholas, TA for Ch 153 - Brendon is a G4 in Chemistry. Students appreciated all the help and guidance Brendon provided on the problem sets and also noted that "...he was always so happy and enthusiastic about the content!"  Another student noted that Brendon's "positivity was a large driving force in making me want to do well on the problem set."

Ellen Feldman, TA for CMS/CS/CNS/EE 155 - Ellen is a G4 in Control & Dynamical Systems. In addition to being a great help on Piazza, many students credited Ellen with not only helping them understand the material but really enjoying the class.  As one student noted, "Every question she answered resulted in multiple students sighing in relief in the future."

Fall 2017-18:

Sophia Charan, TA for ChE152 - Sophia is a G2 in chemical engineering.  Students appreciated all the commitment Sophia put into the course as the only TA, staying late after recitations, grading assignments quickly, and being available for clarifications '24/7'.  One student noted that Sophia 'did not simply provide answers but tried pointing students in the right direction to be able to come up with the answer themselves.'  Many of the ChE152 students attributed their success in the course to Sophia's assistance.

Joaquin Garcia Suarez, TA for AM/CE 151A - Joaquin is a G3 in areonautics who was recognized by many in the class as being a fantastic TA. Many students appreciated how well prepared Joaquin always was and fully involved in the course.  According to one student, 'Joaquin is a natural teacher, with a deep understanding of the material and a knack for elucidating complexity.' 

Spring 2016-17:

Dylan Freas, TA for Ch 41 - Dylan is a G2 in Chemistry and has been a TA for Ch 41 for the entire year. Many students remarked that he was one of the best TA's they had ever had and that he "went above and beyond anything we thought we needed in 41c." That extra mile included helpful handouts, trivia problems, music, and one-on-one help. As one student puts it: " Absolutely wonderful. Great handouts that clearly and concisely go over the lecture material and just generally fun rec sessions."

Anna Ho, TA for Ay 1 -- Anna is a G3 in Astrophysics. Students described Anna as caring, considerate, and committed ... as well as being extremely effective at explaining and summarizing the course material. The sentiments in this quote were echoed by several other students: "She was consistently well-prepared for section, gave really good notes, and did a really good job of explaining potentially confusing material and clarifying misunderstandings. She was very in-tune with the difficulties students were having and did a very good job of resolving those difficulties."

Angad Singh, TA for Ma 1C Practical -- Angad is a G3 in Mathematics. Reviews for Angad are full of superlatives like "best", "great", "awesome", "amazing" and "incredible." Students appreciated his ability to "explain things at the perfect pace, with perfect clarity" and depended on him to learn the class material. One reviewer said: "The material was presented very clearly and in a way that really helped with assignments. Giving simple steps to solving particular types of problems was useful to remember to consider each aspect of the problem."

Winter 2016-17:

Michael Wong, TA for Ge/Ay 159 - Michael is a G5 in Planetary Science.  Many students were happy to remark that Michael is on the best TAs they've had as 'he was enthusiastic about the course content, connected with the students, and put together great lectures.'  Another student commented that 'Mike is passionate about astrobiology and he brings that passion to class every day.'

Samuel Savitz, TA for Ph 106b - Samuel is a G1 in Physics.  While appreciated for his concern for students, many felt he 'went beyond his job scope to help students learn and get good feedback.'  Others remarked on how much time Samuel put into the course as he was 'always prepared', 'showing different examples of different principles', and 'always contactable via email.'

Fall 2016-17:

Camille McAvoy, TA for Bi/Ch 110 - Camille is a G5 in chemistry.  Many students who took the class remarked on all the effort Camille gave to help the class run effectively.  One student stated Camille deserves 'so much thanks and praise for your unmatched awesomeness.'  Another added that Camille 'truly went above and beyond for the sake of the students.'

Gabrielle Tender, TA for Ch 41a - Gabby is a junior in chemistry who was recognized by many in the class as being a fantastic TA.  She was acknowledged as going 'out of her way to help students and provide extra help and practice problems.'    Another student remarked 'her recitation sections were incredibly helpful, she explains things very well, and she's available and friendly.  Gabby is a hero.'

Spring 2015-16:

Prakriti Paul, TA for Bi 1 - Prakriti is a G2 in Biology.  Students appreciated all the extra time she spent preparing study guides and her approach to the recitations.  One student stated, "the enthusiasm and passion she had for teaching and her expansive knowledge really made her section a pleasure to be a part of."  Another shared, "she showed she cared about the students learning and performing well in the class."

Yubo Su, TA for ACM 95/100b - Yubo earned his BS in Physics and CS this past June.  In addition to being declared by many as one of the 'best' and 'fantastic' TAs at Caltech, students urged Yubo to pursue teaching after Caltech.  "He really saved my life (and grade) in this class with his unique office hours and review sessions for the midterm and final.  Definitely went above and beyond all the other TAs by preparing material for office hours rather than just knowing how to answer questions."

Winter 2015-16:

Vsevolod 'Seva' Ivanov, TA for Ph 1b - Seva is a G3 in Physics.  Many students shared similar thoughts, 'Seva put everything into helping students out', and 'regularly goes above and beyond.'   He clearly made an impact both academically and personally as one student states, 'His passion for both physics and life overflow and are uniquely contagious.'

Hannalore Gerling-Dunsmore, TA for Ph 1b - Hannalore is a G2 in Physics.  While many students appreciated her canine companions and the therapy they brought, many more recognized the effort Hannalore made as TA.  'She makes physics interesting and fun... it was an absolute joy to be in her section this term.'  Others also remarked on what a great job she did stepping up and teaching some lectures for the course.

William Hoza, TA for CS 21 - William is a senior double majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics. Praise for William's teaching style and intellect was high... 'William Hoza is primed to be among the greatest theoretical computer scientists of our generation.  His depth of knowledge is astounding, and he will always have more ways to explain problems and give hints as needed.'

Fall 2015-16:

Slava Butkovich, TA for Ch 3a - Slava is a junior in chemical engineering who clearly went above and beyond to answer every question from her students.  Many recognized the effort Slava put into assisting students both in the lab and outside as well.  According to one comment, "Slava was amazing in every way possible.  That's it."

Emily Wyatt, TA for ChE152 - Emily is a G3 in Chemical Engineering and had many students singing her praises as one of the best TAs they ever had.  Not only was Emily skilled at clarifying the course material, she clearly outlined the expectations for exams and gave extremely helpful comments while grading.  "A role model for every teaching assistant," one student shared.

Spring 2014-15:

Andres Goza, TA for ME 19B - Andres is a G5 in Mechanical Engineering whose students clearly thought he was one of the best!  In addition to 'presenting material in a fun and highly information way', students felt his review sessions supplemented and cemented what they learned in class.  One student was 'insanely pleased to have him as (the) TA."

Kevin Shen, TA for ChE/Ch 148 - Kevin is a G4 in Chemical Engineering and many of his student appreciated all the time and effort he put into the course, as one student said "Kevin was by far the best prepared TA I have ever had."  Students also noted his patience and availability 'outside of the class and office hours, to make sure everyone understands the material.' 

Emma Wollman, TA for Ph 1c Practical - Emma earned her PhD in Physics in 2015 and several of her students were sad that her TA days are over.  One student remarked, "I actually learned the material and understood physics for basically the first time this year."  Another added, "Emma was extremely helpful during recitation, and did a fantastic job at covering topics coherently and effectively." 

Winter 2014-15:

Tal Einav for Ph 1b, Analytical – Tal is a G2 in Physics whose enthusiasm for the subject was described as contagious.  "Super engaging, well versed in the material, focused on class participation and really cared that everyone in the room understood everything that was done to work out the problems."

Ahmad Omar for ChE/Ch 164  – Ahmad is a G2 in Chemical Engineering who was always accessible to students throughout the term. Ahmad was described as 'having a generous temperament' and 'an incisive understanding of course material.'

Panagiotis Natsiavas for Ae/AM/CE/ME 102B  – Panagiotis is a G3 in Mechanical Engineering who was deemed 'an absolute lifesaver.'  'Panos showed a true concern for students' understanding of the material' and was 'always willing to help those who are having trouble with the material.'

Fall 2014-15:

Sho Takatori, TA for ChE 151A – Sho is a G3 in the PhD program in Chemical Engineering.  Many students noted how friendly and extremely helpful Sho was, especially with difficult concepts.  ‘Definitely one of the best TA’s I’ve ever had’ was a common trend with comments on Sho.  One student thought it impossible for Sho to improve ‘without coming to our rooms at night and whispering course material in our ears as we fell asleep.’

Annalise Thompson for Ch 1a  – Annalise is a G1 in the PhD program in Chemistry.  Students remarked how extremely well prepared Annalise was for each recitation section, commenting that ‘10/10 would recommend going to her section.’  They appreciated her teaching style, in allowing them to figure things out by themselves, as ‘she obviously cares that you learn the material and she will really work to help you understand.’

Kevin Li for CS/CNS 171  – Kevin is an undergraduate junior in Computer Science.  A student stated, ‘Went above and beyond the call of duty’, with many noting how much time and effort Kevin put into the course. Another student appreciated how Kevin ‘threw his soul into the course’.  Kevin’s sets and notes were described as clear and concise, in fact one student thought ‘many of his lecture notes approach textbook-quality (and exceed it, in some cases).’