Meet the 2022 Teaching and Mentoring Award Winners
Congratulations to Professors Abhijit Champanerkar, Anna Indych-Lopez, and Barbara Katz Rothman, and to students and recent graduates Filip Bergabo, Cristina Pardo Porto, and Karyna Pryiomka.
The Graduate Center has announced the winners of its 2022 Mentoring and Teaching Awards, recognizing faculty members and graduate students for their exceptional work during a year that faced continuing challenges from the pandemic. Professors Abhijit Champanerkar (Mathematics), Anna Indych-López (Art History), and Barbara Katz Rothman (Sociology, Women's and Gender Studies) were the faculty winners of the mentoring awards. The teaching winners are Filip Bergabo (Physics), Cristina Pardo Porto (Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Cultures), and Karyna Pryiomka (Psychology).
Mentoring Award Winners
Abhijit Champanerkar, a long-time member of the doctoral faculty in Mathematics, is the organizer of the Geometry and Topology Student Seminar, described by Professors Ara Basmajian and Ilya Kofman, the program’s executive and deputy executive officers, as a “showcase of graduate education.” For 13 years, he has also co-organized the CUNY Geometry and Topology Seminar, which has “brought world-class speakers to the Graduate Center, and it has always attracted a sizable graduate student audience.” Many of the program’s students are from India, they noted, and “students often feel more at ease asking Abhijit for advice about unexpected aspects of student life both because Abhijit is knowledgeable about both countries, and because he is genuinely happy to help them.” They also cited his positive attitude, patience, and kindness. Alexander Stas, a former student who is currently a member of the senior professional staff at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, wrote, “I can attest to the fact that mentors like Abhijit are exceptionally hard to find and deserve to be honored.”
Anna Indych-López was nominated by six students for the award, wrote Jennifer Ball, the executive officer of the Art History program, who noted that all of the students whose dissertations were completed under Indych-López’s guidance are now in academic or museum positions at prestigious institutions including the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and Warwick University. “But what makes Professor Anna Indych-López stand out even more: her personal mentoring style, which pushes students to be their best, while also taking a deep and complete interest in their success, considering all aspects of their lives,” Ball wrote. Mya B. Dosch (Ph.D. ’18, Art History), a former student who is now an assistant professor at California State University, Sacramento, wrote that Indych-López is “an exceptional mentor” who “took care to nourish connections (and not competition) between her students and other academics.” Abigail Lapin Dardashti (Ph.D. ’20, Art History), now an assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine, wrote, “Without her training, I would have received only a fraction of the grants, jobs, and fellowships that have enabled me to develop my research and teaching.”
Barbara Katz Rothman was nominated by 11 former and current Graduate Center students across her four decades in the Sociology program. “Dr. Katz Rothman works with doctoral students who are often labelled ‘non-traditional’ and time after time has empowered her students to become leaders in their careers through her intersectional anti-racist feminist approach,” wrote Lynn Chancer, executive officer of the program. She is “generous beyond measure. She brings newer students to conferences, takes them to meals, and invites them to participate in her life. For students without connections to higher education and doctoral programs, this sort of insight into how a professor’s life is structured is invaluable.” One student wrote that “Dr. Katz Rothman has also stayed involved with my work and continued to guide my research and career since I graduated in 2018. Not only do I reach out to her with questions on how to approach an interview or study, but she often contacts me, just to see how I’m doing or to talk about an article she that she thought might interest me.”
Teaching Award Winners
Filip Bergabo, in the first lecture course that he ever taught, proved “himself to be a superb teacher, who elicits enthusiasm, active participation, and a love of learning from his students,” wrote a member of the Physics program who observed him teaching. Bergabo wrote that in 2018, when he taught his first introductory physics laboratory course at Baruch, he felt “a great deal of anxiety; what if someone asks a question I cannot answer? Or worse, what if I give the wrong answer?” Yet these insecurities did not have an impact on his teaching ability in the end, he noted. “In fact, the keen understanding of my own imperfect knowledge ended up helping to inform my teaching philosophy going forward.” Bergabo also wrote that he is “very grateful for the opportunity to teach at CUNY, it has helped me to grow as a person, expand my skillset, and to develop my own teaching method, which I plan to hone and further refine in the years to come … It is a passion I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”
Cristina Pardo Porto “taught us Spanish in a way that I never have learned before,” one of her students wrote in an evaluation. “We spoke on so many issues in Spanish and it just felt amazing. She made me feel proud to be a Spanish speaker and made me reevaluate my position in the Latinx community.” Pardo Porto, who successfully defended her dissertation in 2022, is now an assistant professor at Syracuse University. “My experience within the [CUNY] system has led me to focus on community-building and cultivating an active engagement in cultural and political issues through critical and creative pedagogies,” she wrote. “I always strive to foster diversity, equity, and anti-racism in my teaching, and to value ethical, non-hierarchical, and collaborative exchanges between the colleagues, students, and professors that I work with.” Her background as a Venezuelan immigrant has made her “sensitive to the challenges that ethnic minorities and marginalized groups face in international college settings.”
Karyna Pryiomka is an “exceptional teacher,” whether in person or online, wrote a member of the Psychology department at Lehman College, where she was selected as adjunct teacher of the year. Her class was “an extremely impressive example of how to actively engage students online,” and “it is clear that Prof. Pryiomka is very knowledgeable about topic and has been able to establish excellent rapport with the students.” Pryiomka worked closely with students across CUNY as a writing tutor at John Jay College’s Writing Center, a Quantitative Reasoning Fellow at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, and an adjunct lecturer and substitute lecturer teaching Statistical Methods in Psychology and Experimental Psychology at Hunter College and Lehman College. “I espouse a student-centered, inquiry-based pedagogy informed by metacognition and strive to design assignments that help my students master course material, develop career skills, and think critically,” she wrote. “I strive to create a classroom climate that welcomes a diversity of opinions and perspectives.”
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