Award Winners

Winners of the University Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

University Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award
34th Annual Academic Honors Convocation
April 15, 2015

Jiun Bang
International Relations (Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Science)
Sponsor: Robert English

It is difficult to imagine a more creative and innovative teacher than Jiun Bang. She constantly strives to present her students with engaging and unexpected learning methods and exercises. One of her unique approaches involved creating an international relations version of Jeopardy!, which featured important facts regarding concepts, people, and events relevant to the course. Jiun has also allowed students to correct their own exams as a means of understanding evaluation criteria and honing self-reflective critical thinking skills. In the spirit of sparking class discussion, Jiun also uses Blackboard to anonymously poll opinions regarding a particular global, political, or ethical issue, in order to post the results and conduct a class debate. All of these examples illustrate one of the central features of Jiun’s teaching style: the encouragement of active student participation through the dynamic use of an array of educational tools.

What makes Jiun such a successful teacher is her ability to plan imaginatively and accommodate spontaneity and improvisation. As she continues her career in academia, she is committed to exploring new and better ways of piquing curiosity and enhancing the learning experience. She will certainly make her mark in many future classrooms.

In recognition of her valuable contributions to the School of International Relations, the University of Southern California is proud to honor Jiun Bang with a University Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.

Renée Jorgensen Bolinger
Philosophy (Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences)
Sponsor: Andrei Marmor

Renée Bolinger is a passionate, innovative, and talented teaching assistant in USC’s department of philosophy. She is known for preparing meticulous, minute-by-minute plans for each class. These plans outline what she intends to achieve, and allow time for the potential vagaries of class discussions. Most importantly, Renée pursues topics that connect to student interests by employing creative in-class exercises and novel learning techniques. She also explores various strategies for reaching out to students who respond to alternative learning methodologies, or whose social style might be less conducive to a traditional classroom setting.

An accomplished artist, Renée paints portraits of influential philosophers that are featured in philosophy departments around the world. In each work, she emulates a famous painter whose style resonates with the philosophical views of the subject. Renée utilizes this creative ability to draw surprising and illuminating connections in class with her students. She encourages them to see things from different points of view as a means of making difficult material more accessible.

In recognition of her exceptional contributions to undergraduate education, the University of Southern California is proud to honor Renée Bolinger with a University Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.

Bo Cheng Jin
Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering (Viterbi School of Engineering)
Sponsor: Geoffrey Spedding

Bo Jin is an exemplar of excellence in teaching and mentorship. He brings incredible positivity and energy to his work, and is an inspiration to his students. They consistently praise his enthusiasm and humor, his thorough and rigorous preparation, and his clear and precise presentations. He has garnered a stellar reputation for being generous, supportive, and tremendously dedicated. As a Teaching Assistant Fellow in USC’s Center for Excellence in Teaching (CET), Bo demonstrated his unflagging willingness to enhance the educational experience for USC students by organizing several workshop series for teaching assistants in Viterbi, international teaching assistants, and post-doctoral candidates. He remains a consummate mentor for his students and peers.

In 2013, Bo played a pivotal role in creating an online platform for USC’s instructor evaluation system. Prior to its implementation, there had been no formal mechanism for evaluating Viterbi’s teaching assistants. His peers at CET have recognized his achievements, as well as his great aptitude for leadership by electing him chair of the Teaching Assistant Fellows. Remarkably, Bo has done all this while maintaining an enviable scholarly record: he has published 12 journal papers, half of which were peer-reviewed.

In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, the University of Southern California is proud to recognize Bo Jin with a University Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.