Saumya VaishnavaDoctoral student in geography
2019–20 Academic Award
• Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award
The Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award recognizes a graduate student who has performed his or her responsibilities as a teaching assistant in a commendable manner. The department recipient becomes eligible for the EMS George Schenck Teaching Assistant of the Year award.
Vaishnava, who has been teaching the general education course, GEOG 30 Environment and Society in a Changing World, said it means a lot to her to receive the award.
“I have always wanted to teach, and a big part of my decision to come to graduate school was the many opportunities to grow and learn as a teacher,” Vaishnava said. “I have really enjoyed my TA experience so far, and I have learned so much from Brian King and Brandi Robinson, the faculty I was a TA for, and from Vivian Rodriguez-Rocha, my fellow TA. As graduate students, we invest a lot of ourselves into our TA assignments and so recognition by the department through this award is very encouraging.”
GEOG 30 aligns with Vaishnava’s research interests as well. She described herself as a nature-society geographer.
“I just finished my master’s thesis on policy responses to geological risks in dam construction in the Indian Himalayas,” she said. “After my Ph.D., my plan is to find work that allows me to do meaningful policy research as well as continue teaching students.”
To new students, Vaishnava said she would emphasize the things that have worked for her: time management, taking good notes, and asking for help when stuck.
“For those interested in teaching, I would recommend taking advantage of the fantastic resources and courses at the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence,” she said.