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Dean Michael D. Smith announced May 11 that Michael Brenner, Glover Professor of Applied Mathematics and Applied Physics in the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), was among those faculty awarded Harvard College Professorships in recognition of their outstanding contributions to undergraduate teaching, advising, and mentoring.
The Harvard College Professorships were established in 1997, supported by a gift from John and Frances Loeb. The five-year appointments provide a semester of paid leave or summer salary, as well as additional support for research and scholarly activities.
The new Harvard College Professors shared their guiding principles in the classroom, their views on the synergy between teaching and research, and their reaction to the recognition as exceptional educators.
Glover Professor of Applied Mathematics and Applied Physics
“I was incredibly flattered and surprised at receiving this news,” says Brenner, who teaches classes on applied math, mechanical vibrations, and multivariable calculus, among other topics. “For what it is worth, I don’t feel that I am a good teacher yet, which makes it even more humbling to receive this honor.
Brenner’s Harvard College Professorship will help in his ongoing development of new courses and course materials, including two projects this summer: revising the class notes for his applied mathematics 201 course, with the hope of developing a textbook, and working with colleagues in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences on a new Gen Ed class titled “Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter,” being offered this fall.
Brenner finds teaching Harvard students “quite synergistic with mounting a world-class research program.”
“I have always felt that the students are by far the best part of Harvard, and teaching them is an honor and a true pleasure,” he says. “Indeed, I have learned tremendously from the students in many different ways — not just about the subjects that I teach, but also about teaching in general, and what it takes to be a good teacher and to communicate effectively.”
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