Award Winners

Winners of the University Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

University Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award
33rd Annual Academic Honors Convocation
April 8, 2014

Chih-Chieh Hsu
Electrical Engineering (Viterbi School of Engineering)
Sponsor: Bhaskar Krishnamachari

Chih-Chieh Hsu has received widespread accolades for her outstanding teaching abilities. Faculty members routinely commend her passion and dedication to helping students learn, and her students praise her clarity, helpfulness, and availability.

Chih-Chieh has developed a wide range of unique materials and activities to supplement course lectures, making challenging subjects such as digital-logic design and real-time computer systems more engaging and accessible. One of the most extraordinary aspects of her teaching—and one that has made her immensely popular with students—is that at her own initiative, she created a number of novel and interesting games and puzzles based on lecture material to help students prepare and review. By introducing an element of fun into active learning, she has dramatically increased participation and engagement, which serves as a tremendous help to the professors teaching the classes. Chih-Chieh strives to stimulate students’ interest and curiosity by remaining abreast of emerging technology and vividly illustrating how course material relates to real-world engineering problems.

Chih-Chieh consistently exceeds all expectations as she strives to create the best possible classroom experience for her students. Her remarkable work ethic and constant pursuit of excellence stand as an inspiration to her peers.

For her dedicated contributions to the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering, the University of Southern California is proud to recognize Chih-Chieh Hsu with the University Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.

Young Ji Kim
Communication (Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism)
Sponsor: Imre Meszaros

Young Ji Kim possesses a special talent for teaching and a singular devotion to her students. As a discussion section leader for one of the Annenberg School’s largest and most popular undergraduate courses, she skillfully explicated complex communication theories and creatively included them in her own original instructional materials that supplemented lectures. In their evaluations, students echoed a common refrain: Young Ji displays an exceptional knowledge of the material, is always available to help, and is always well prepared.

In addition to her strengths as an instructor, Young Ji is an exemplary colleague and proverbial team player. As a course coordinator, she provided instructional support for other teaching assistants by conducting regular sessions to discuss grading consistency, student conflicts, and classroom challenges. In this capacity, she also developed a practice of identifying students who were struggling with coursework, and worked with them to achieve academic improvement. She accomplished all of this while maintaining a rigorous research agenda.

One professor remarked, “I wished that she could continue TAing for me after two semesters, but she was so popular that the school asked her to take on a research methods course all by herself.” Indeed, Young Ji Kim has proven herself to be a sterling scholar, a highly effective instructor, and a thoughtful leader.

For her generous contributions to the School of Communication, the University of Southern California is proud to recognize Young Ji Kim with the University Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.

Simon Radford
International Relations (Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences)
Sponsor: Robert English

One of the first things students notice about Simon Radford is his penetrating intelligence, which puts students on notice that his will be a demanding class. And while he places exceedingly high expectations on his students, Simon is wonderfully supportive, patient, and funny, as well as exceptionally devoted to his students’ success. He designs special lessons and exercises to make complex lecture and reading material transparent, and frequently sends his students articles that illustrate theory in action. One professor has commented that Simon is legendary for answering students’ emails immediately and with humorous and lengthy responses. He does all this while shouldering great responsibility as head teaching assistant for some of the largest lecture courses in the School of International Relations, effectively organizing and instructing not only his own students, but his fellow teaching assistants as well.

Undoubtedly a natural, Simon is currently a teaching assistant fellow at USC’s Center for Excellence in Teaching. His work on the use of diplomatic simulations and game playing in teaching international relations has been published in one of the field’s leading journals, International Studies Perspective. Simon played a critical role in the project that culminated in the publication of this article, developing the theory and research design, writing grant proposals, and conducting many of the simulations and games. These are signal achievements, which reflect his passionate dedication, superlative diligence, and inspiring creativity.

In recognition of his singular contributions to the School of International Relations, the University of Southern California is proud to recognize Simon Radford with the University Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.