The Center for Teaching and Leanring presents Dr. Adam Decker with the Undergraduate Educator Award during the 2023 Georgia Tech Faculty and Staff Honors Luncheon. This award, which was offered for the first time in 2009, provides Georgia Tech with the opportunity to recognize the outstanding contributions that non-tenure track faculty make to the education of students on campus. Recipients will each receive $3,000. One award will be given each year, depending available funding and on the quality of the nominations. No more than one faculty member from a college will be selected annually. Note that the selection committee can decide that no award will be given in a particular year.

Questions? Contact Carol Subiño Sullivan.

  • Packets are due by Friday, February 7, 2025 at 11:59pm.
  • Award recipients will be honored at a campus celebration, date and format to be determined by the institute committee.
  • Names and nomination packets of the award winners will be posted on the CTL Faculty Award website.
  • Names of winners will be added to the Teaching Awards wall located in the Clough Undergraduate Commons.
  • Award recipients will be honored at a campus celebration, date and format to be determined by the institute committee.
  • Names and nomination packets of the award winners will be posted on the CTL Faculty Award website.
  • Names of winners will be added to the Teaching Awards wall located in the Clough Undergraduate Commons.

Eligibility Criteria
  • Have non-tenure track faculty status at time of nomination and hold at least a 75 percent appointment.
  • Completed at least two semesters in a qualifying position at Georgia Tech.
  • Currently be teaching undergraduate for-credit course(s).
Nomination Materials

The nomination packet (which should be no more than 15 pages) should be submitted as a PDF file to Georgia Tech's awards portal: It should include the following items:

  • Letter of nomination.
  • Table of contents for the packet.
  • Reflective statement on teaching from the candidate.
  • Illustrations of the candidate’s teaching excellence and impact on student learning.
  • You should solicit five letters of support for your application; these letters will not count toward the page maximum listed above. These letters of support should be from the following individuals:
    *Candidate’s department head or chair. (If this person is the nominator, then the nomination letter will suffice.)
    *One other colleague who has observed the candidate in the classroom.
    *Three undergraduate students, at least one of whom must currently be a student at Georgia Tech.
Review Process and Selection Criteria:

The Center for Teaching and Learning establishes a committee consisting of previous Georgia Tech educational award winners to review the nomination packets and select the winner of this award. Each nominee's submission is reviewed in the context of departmental and institutional standards. Evaluation/endorsement of the nominee's exemplary performance is provided by the letter of nomination from the Chair and by letters of evaluation from a colleague and students.

The award committee will look for persuasive evidence that the nominee demonstrates the following criteria:

  • Teaching excellence in core courses, required courses, or large classes.
  • Impact on students’ lives, both in and beyond the classroom.
  • Educational innovations.
  • Educational outreach beyond the classroom and laboratory.
  • Accessibility to all students, even those who were not performing well in the class.
  • Passion about teaching and learning.
  • Good Georgia Tech citizenship.

Winner 2024

Michael Evans portraitMichael Evans, Chemistry and Biochemistry (nomination packet)

Evans strives to maintain both high academic standards and positive student-instructor relationships in the courses that he leads. His approach to teaching emphasizes detailed student feedback, inclusiveness and accessibility, and community development. His innovative methods have led to grading systems focusing on feedback and student growth, a flipped classroom model built on universal design and peer learning, and digital communication tools promoting open and transparent dialogue. Mike has impacted the community and the Undergraduate Program of his college through his service at various events.

Past Winners

Adam Decker, Senior Academic Professional, Biological Sciences (Nomination Packet)

Dr. Adam Decker is a Senior Academic Professional and Director of Anatomical Sciences in the School of Biological Sciences. He teaches Human Anatomy, Human Anatomy lab (with dissection), Human Pathology, and Scientific Foundations of Health. Dr. Decker has been teaching undergraduate pre-health students for 20 years. He has worked closely with Emory School of Medicine colleagues to procure cadaveric specimens for his human anatomy lab. He has demonstrated that teaching with these specimens has positively impacted the success of his students attending medical school.



Jacqueline Garner - Scheller College of Business (Nomination Packet)

Dr. Jacqueline Garner’s mission is to teach knowledge and concepts about finance, but also to encourage kindness, the ability to work with others, and the ability to think clearly and carefully about an issue. She is open and accessible for her students, often mentoring them inside and outside of the classroom. Students praise her energy, passion, and enthusiasm for finance with makes each class a fun and engaging learning environment. Congratulations, Dr. Garner! 

Amit S. Jariwala - Mechanical Engineering (Nomination Packet)

Dr. Amit Jariwala is the Director of Design and Innovation in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, working with over 500 students every year in the program’s sophomore design and senior capstone design courses. In addition to teaching, he oversees the School’s design curriculum facilities as well as building financial support and industry relationships. His chair describes him as a student-focused and empathetic leader who maintains rigor while mindful of student stress and mental health. Congratulations! 

Todd Fernandez – Biomedical Engineering (Nomination Packet)
Dr. Todd Fernandez recognizes the importance of establishing a supportive classroom environment for his students. Fernandez works hard to ensure students feel respected and helps them explore their interests. Fifth year student Maité Marin-Mera stated, “I always felt I wasn’t destined to be a traditional engineer but did not know what other opportunities there were. It was Professor Fernandez who listened to my experiences, asked probing questions, provided me with books and articles to read, and was willing to broaden my understanding so I could make a more educated decision for my future.”  Additionally, he created a seminar to give BIPOC and LGTBQ students a platform to share their experiences with BME faculty and helped lead discussion amongst them on how to support students in marginalized communities. Dr. Fernandez expresses great passion for biomedical engineering, improving the learning environment of his students, and inspiring them to take charge in their education.  

Stephanie Reikes – Mathematics (Nomination Packet)
Stephanie Reikes sees her work in the School of Mathematics as crucial in establishing firm foundations for her students’ academic success and progress. For over three years, she has been the instructor for all Pre-Calculus courses at Tech which is critical in helping students with little experience in mathematics prepare for the math courses needed for their major. In addition to her teaching, Professor Reikes has improved collaboration between Tutoring & Academic Support (TAS) and the School of Mathematics, scheduling and coordinating over 75 teaching assistants for the Math Lab in which TAs provide drop-in tutoring for all undergraduate students in math courses. She also developed a new program with the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) to incorporate Learning Assistants that will expand academic support to students and faculty across campus. Assistant Director of Academics Joe Miller states, “Ms. Reikes has been a huge contributor in the development and success of undergraduate students who need extra support early on in their careers at Georgia Tech.”

Benjamin Diden, Lecturer and Assistant Director of Athletic Bands, School of Music (Nomination Packet)
“Benjamin Diden is a true pedagogue of the art form and lives and breathes music, whether its conducting or student education of the craft,” says the Director of Jazz Studies Dr. Cameron Crotts. Since 2008, Diden has taught music technology courses and directed the marching, pep, concert, and symphonic bands, in addition to being assistant director for Georgia Tech’s athletic bands. He mentors an SGA music service clubs and provides academic advising to music minors. Diden is committed to exposing his students to new and contemporary music. Students are given the opportunity to work with challenging new music and with the composers of this music, pushing them to become more skillful musicians. Diden’s dedication to his students’ musical growth is what has helped establish the GT band program as the national leader in new wind ensemble repertoire that it is today. 

Mary Hudachek-Buswell, Lecturer, Division of Computing Instruction (Nomination Packet)
Dr. Mary Hudachek-Buswell covers a variety of courses taught in the College of Computing at both the introductory and higher level, working with around a thousand students every semester. In working with such a large number of students, Dr. Buswell works diligently with each individual, even individually reaching out to struggling students or who need special accommodations. She’s also heavily involved in the computing community on campus beyond her courses as a mentor for undergraduate teaching assistants and for a team in Idea to Prototype, which is a part of the start-up program Create-X, and has served as a judge for HackGT. Further beyond, she teaches a robotics unit to elementary schoolers and gives her computer science students the opportunity to help teach children about computing. Academic Professional Melinda McDaniel referred to her as, “a great role model for me and many others at Georgia Tech who value excellence in teaching.”

James Rains, Professor of the Practice Biomedical Engineering (Nomination Packet)
Dr. James Rains came to Georgia Tech with the intent to guide the next generation of biomedical engineers by coaching healthcare startups in the CREATE-X Initiative and leading the BME Capstone program. Dr. Rains is very enthusiastic about helping his students succeed, and he does this by using his experience and connections to help students understand and create bonds in the biomedical industry. Under Dr. Rains’ leadership for the past six years, the BME Capstone has ranked the third best in the country and has more healthcare collaborators than any other program in the nation.

Emily Weigel, Academic Professional, Biological Sciences (Nomination Packet)
Dr. Emily Weigel specializes in teaching methods that promote collaboration, ensure authentic science practices, and involve continual assessment. She uses a flipped-class approach--she invites students to become familiar with course content prior to class, then dig deeper into the content through activities in class.  Dr. Weigel takes her students beyond the classroom to study Biology too. For example, her students contribute to the US Fish and Wildlife and Environmental Protection Agency’s water quality management program in Proctor Creek. Dr. Weigel’s approach allows her to engage her students in real-world science, assess their learning, and adapt her teaching in response. The result? Her students learn—and they enjoy Biology!

S. Balakrishna Pai, Walter H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering (Nomination Packet)
Christopher M. Stanzione, Psychology (Nomination Packet)

Mary E. Peek, Chemistry and Biochemistry (Nomination Packet)
Amy V. D'Unger, History and Sociology (Nomination Packet)

Edwin Greco, Physics (Nomination Packet)

Shana C. Kerr, Biology (Nomination Packet)
Michael A. Smith, Scheller College of Business (Nomination Packet)

Michael O. Rodgers, Civil and Environmental Engineering (Nomination Packet)
Chrissy C. Spencer, Biology (Nomination Packet)

Kristin Marsicano, College of Computing
Cianan Russell, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Linda E. Green, Biology
Raghu V. Pucha, Mechanical Engineering

Klara J. Grodzinsky, Mathematics
Wayne E. Whiteman, Mechanical Engineering

Jennifer K. Leavey, Biology
Christine S. Valle, Mechanical Engineering

Mirjana Brockett, Biology
James R. Sowell, Physics