Carnegie Mellon University Home

Dietrich College News

January 2012

2012 Dietrich College Graduate Student Teaching Award Winners Announced

Each year the college selects one of its graduate students for the Dietrich College Graduate Student Teaching Award to recognize excellence, dedication, and innovation in teaching. For the 2012 award, English Department PhD. candidate Heather Steffen, and Modern Languages Ph.D. candidate Yun (Helen) Zhao have been selected as co-winners.

A 2003 baccalaureate graduate of Bowling Green State University (B.A. [magna cum laude], in English) and 2004 masters-degree graduate of Carnegie Mellon (M.A., English), Steffen is a candidate for the PhD in Literary and Cultural Studies here at Carnegie Mellon. A central part of the PhD experience in this program is the opportunity and challenge to develop as a course designer and classroom instructor, and Heather has filled these roles superbly, in the main in the university’s required undergraduate writing course 76-101, Interpretation and Argument. As her nominators state, “Heather has developed into an extraordinary teacher who is willing to devote a great deal of time, energy and resources to improving her pedagogy . . . Clearly, her knowledge, preparedness enthusiasm and empathy make her a fine example of the sort of teacher who should be recognized for her contribution not just to our department, but also to the Carnegie Mellon community as a whole.”

A 2005 B.A. graduate of Beijing Foreign Studies University (in English Language and Literature), where she also received an M.A. in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics in 2008), Zhao is a candidate for the PhD. in Second Language Acquisition here at Carnegie Mellon. Zhao has demonstrated constant and strong dedication to her teaching at Carnegie Mellon. She has had full responsibility for teaching 76-100, Reading and Writing in an Academic Context, which is a required English composition course for undergraduate international students who are also second-language learners. Zhao’s class sessions are a model of organization, structure, student engagement, and innovative application of the expertise that she has acquired in her studies in second language acquisition. As her nominators write, “(Helen) is a gifted and caring teacher with charming personal warmth. She is a promising scholar and generous community citizen. She is unquestionably and exceptionally worthy of this year’s Dietrich College Graduate Student Teaching award.”

The winners’ respective home departments will present these awards at a time and place to be determined later this semester.

Stay connected with CMU's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences on Twitter and Facebook.

Other sources of Carnegie Mellon news include the university news service website and the Carnegie Mellon Today magazine.

Contact Shilo Rea, Director of Public Relations at or (412) 268-6094.


About the Quick Links

Follow the Dietrich College on Twitter and Facebook.
Sign up to receive Dietrich College News, the college's monthly e-newsletter.

  Four Dietrich College Graduates Receive Fulbright Awards
From addressing clean water shortages in urban Mexican communities to teaching English in Brazil, Germany, Montenegro and Turkey, five recent CMU graduates – four from the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences – will be making a global impact through this year’s Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Read more.
  Dietrich College News: July 2014
Features this month include new autism and health psychology research, what the World Cup and the Russian Revolution have in common, alumni stories, faculty accomplishments and much more. Read Dietrich College News.
  Autism Stems Mostly From Common Genes
Using new statistical tools, Kathryn Roeder has led an international team of researchers to discover that most of the genetic risk for autism comes from versions of genes that are common in the population rather than from rare variants or spontaneous glitches. Read more.
  International Impact of the Humanities
Sports fans may have had their eyes on Brazil as it hosts the 2014 World Cup, but beyond the soccer fields, the country is facing a different form of competition. Many of the issues are eerily similar to those raised in the 1917 Russian Revolution, putting historian Wendy Goldman's work in the spotlight. Read more.
  Only 25 Minutes of Mindfulness Meditation Alleviates Stress
Mindfulness meditation has become an increasingly popular way for people to improve their mental and physical health, yet most research supporting its benefits has focused on lengthy, weeks-long training programs. Read more.
  Save the Date: Celebrating the Work of Steven Klepper
The Dietrich College and Department of Social and Decision Sciences will hold an academic conference and community memorial event on October 17, 2014 to celebrate the work of Steven Klepper. Read more (pdf).
  Heavily Decorated Classrooms Disrupt Attention and Learning In Young Children
Published in Psychological Science, CMU's Anna V. Fisher, Karrie E. Godwin and Howard Seltman looked at whether classroom displays affected children's ability to maintain focus during instruction and to learn the lesson content. They found that children in highly decorated classrooms were more distracted, spent more time off-task and demonstrated smaller learning gains than when the decorations were removed. Read more.   Watch a video.
  Four Students Begin Dietrich Honors Fellowship Program
The program provides summer funding to rising seniors in the Dietrich College's senior honors program as they undertake early-stage research and development of their thesis topics. In this video, the four students participating in program's inaugural year discuss their projects which range from relationship research to anthropology and ethnography studies. Watch the videoFind out more about the program.
  Mapping the Future of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Carnegie Mellon University — which has a long history of the humanities and social sciences collaborating with other fields to solve problems — and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences held the first Pittsburgh-area discussion of the "Heart of the Matter" report and its implications for improving education and creating a sustainable global society. Read more.   Watch the video.  View photos.
  New Dietrich Honors Fellowship Program Announced
The program will provide summer funding support to rising seniors in the Dietrich College senior honors program as they undertake early-stage research and development of their thesis topics. Read more.
  Richard Scheines Appointed Dean of Dietrich College
Scheines, professor and head of the Department of Philosophy, has been selected to lead the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences as dean, effective July 1, 2014. He will succeed John Lehoczky, who has served as dean since 2000 and will return to the Department of Statistics’ faculty. Read more.
  Students, Alumni Attend Under Construction
Nearly 60 alumni returned to support 150 current students and help them build their careers. The second annual “Under Construction: Building Your Future” event encouraged students and alumni to explore the diverse fields available after graduation. Read more.
  Video: The Humanities at Carnegie Mellon University
The Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences is proud to have distinguished faculty and talented students who are leading the humanities into the 21st century. In this short video, Dietrich College faculty, staff and alumni talk about the college’s excellence in the humanities. Watch the video.


H&SS Home | Admissions | Advising & Careers | Departments & Programs | Research | Computing & Libraries | News | Alumni

Site Index | About H&SS | Message from the Dean


Carnegie Mellon University
College of Humanities & Social Sciences | 5000 Forbes Avenue | Baker Hall 154 | Pittsburgh, PA 15213 | (412) 268-2830