Twenty-three MIT faculty honored as "Committed to Caring" for 2023-25

June 14, 2024

The Committed to Caring (C2C) program at MIT is a student-driven initiative that celebrates faculty members who have served as exceptional mentors to graduate students. Twenty-three MIT professors have been selected as recipients of the C2C award for 2023-25, marking the most extensive cohort of honorees to date. The actions of these MIT faculty members over the past two years underscore their profound commitment to the well-being, growth, and success of their students. Graduate students from all departments are invited to submit nomination letters detailing professors’ outstanding mentorship practices. A committee of graduate students and staff members then selects individuals who have shown genuine contributions to MIT’s vibrant academic community through student mentorship.

In the halls of MIT, a distinctive thread of compassion weaves through the fabric of education. As students adjust to a postpandemic normal, many professors have played a pivotal role by helping them navigate the realities of hybrid learning and a rapidly changing postgraduation landscape. 

The Committed to Caring (C2C) program at MIT is a student-driven initiative that celebrates faculty members who have served as exceptional mentors to graduate students. Twenty-three MIT professors have been selected as recipients of the C2C award for 2023-25, marking the most extensive cohort of honorees to date. These individuals join the ranks of 75 previous C2C honorees. 

The actions of these MIT faculty members over the past two years underscore their profound commitment to the well-being, growth, and success of their students. These educators go above and beyond their roles, demonstrating an unwavering dedication to mentorship, inclusion, and a holistic approach to student development. They aim to create a nurturing environment where students not only thrive academically, but also flourish personally. 

The following faculty members are the 2023-25 Committed to Caring honorees:

  • Hamsa Balakrishnan, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Cynthia Breazeal, Media Lab
  • Roberto Fernandez, MIT Sloan School of Management
  • Nuh Gedik, Department of Physics
  • Mariya Grinberg, Department of Political Science
  • Ming Guo, Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Myriam Heiman, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
  • Rohit Karnik, Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Erik Lin-Greenberg, Department of Political Science
  • Michael McDonald, Department of Physics
  • Emery Neal Brown, Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology
  • Wanda Orlikowski, MIT Sloan School of Management
  • Kenneth Oye, Department of Political Science
  • Kristala Prather, Department of Chemical Engineering
  • Zachary Seth Hartwig, Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering
  • Tracy Slatyer, Department of Physics
  • Iain Stewart, Department of Physics
  • Andrew Vanderburg, Department of Physics
  • Rodrigo Verdi, MIT Sloan School of Management
  • Xiao Wang, Department of Chemistry
  • Ariel White, Department of Political Science
  • Nathan Wilmers, MIT Sloan School of Management
  • Maria Yang, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Since the founding of the C2C program in 2014 by the Office of Graduate Education, the nomination process for honorees has centered on student involvement. Graduate students from all departments are invited to submit nomination letters detailing professors’ outstanding mentorship practices. A committee of graduate students and staff members then selects individuals who have shown genuine contributions to MIT’s vibrant academic community through student mentorship.

The selection committee this year included: Maria Carreira (Biology), Rima Das (Mechanical Engineering), Ahmet Gulek (Economics), Bishal Thapa (Biological Engineering), Katie Rotman (Architecture), Dóra Takács (Linguistics), Dan Korsun (Nuclear Science and Engineering), Leslie Langston (Student Mental Health and Counseling), Patricia Nesti (MIT-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), Beth Marois (Office of Graduate Education [OGE]), Sara Lazo (OGE), and Chair Suraiya Baluch (OGE).  

This year’s nomination letters highlighted unique stories of how students felt supported by professors. Students noted their mentors’ commitment to frequent meetings despite their own busy personal lives, as well as their dedication to ensuring equal access to opportunities for underrepresented and underserved students.

Some wrote about their advisors’ careful consideration of students’ needs alongside their own when faced with professional advancement opportunities; others appreciated their active support for students in the LGBTQ+ community. Lastly, students reflected on their advisors’ encouragement for open and constructive discourse around the graduate unionization vote, showing a genuine desire to hear about graduate issues.

Baluch shared, “Working with the amazing selection committee was the highlight of my work year. I was so impressed by the thoughtful consideration each nomination received. Selecting the next round of C2C nominees is always a heartwarming experience.” 

“As someone who aspires to be a faculty member someday,” noted Das, “being on the selection committee … was a phenomenal opportunity in understanding the breadth and depth of possibility in how to be a caring mentor in academia.”

She continued, “It was so heartening to hear the different ways that these faculty members are going above and beyond their explicit research and teaching duties and the amazing impact that has made on so many students’ well-being and ability to be successful in graduate school.” 

The Committed to Caring program continues to reinforce MIT’s culture of mentorship, inclusion, and collaboration by recognizing the contributions of outstanding professors. In the coming months, news articles will feature pairs of honorees, and a reception will be held in May.

The source of this news is from Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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