May 24, 2001
Vol. 20 No. 17

current issue
archive / search

    Booth Prize Winners: Jeremy Bendik-Keymer, Gina DeGiovanni, Jennifer Golbeck and Juan Santalo-Mediavilla

    By Arthur Fournier
    News Office

    (From left to right) Jennifer Golbeck, Jeremy Bendik-Keymer and Juan Santalo-Mediavilla. Gina DeGiovanni is not pictured.
    Four graduate students have garnered the Booth Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Jeremy Bendik-Keymer, Gina DeGiovanni, Jennifer Golbeck and Juan Santalo-Mediavilla have been recognized by students and faculty for their outstanding contributions to teaching in the College.

    The Booth Prize was established in 1991 in honor of Wayne Booth, the George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in English Language & Literature. College students nominate the winners, who must be graduate students.

    Jeremy Bendik-Keymer, Philosophy

    In his current research, Jeremy Bendik-Keymer, graduate student in Philosophy, is developing a contemporary account of conscience of humanity, an understanding of conscience inaugurated by Jean Jacques Rousseau. According to Bendik-Keymer, Rousseau believed that the voice of conscience speaks to our sense of humanity.

    “One of my side concerns is to understand how respect for the environment can actually be part of our sense of humanity,” he said. This year, leading Environmental Moral Philosophy, an upper-level undergraduate seminar, provided him with an opportunity to explore that interest in the classroom.

    “The class was geared for people who are interested in the topic and not trained in philosophy,” he explained. “The range of backgrounds and philosophical orientations among the students was pretty diverse.”

    As a teacher, Bendik-Keymer said he believes in bridging ideological divides by fostering dialogue. “You have to start where you think your most skeptically inclined students will at least have common ground with the rest of the class,” he said.

    To accomplish his objective in the seminar, he assigned everyone in the class two presentations over the course of the quarter. “It was really frustrating at times, but it came together nicely. By the end of the quarter, I felt people really were listening to each other. It was a great feeling.”

    Gina DeGiovanni, Biology

    As a student in the College, Gina DeGiovanni (A.B. ’95) concentrated in English and Italian. Now that she is enrolled in the Pritzker School of Medicine, she is profoundly grateful for the common core requirements that kept her in touch with the sciences during her undergraduate years.

    “Even though I did my B.A. in the humanities, I’d already taken two years of science classes for the core, so I just had to take some advanced chemistry and physics to complete my requirements for medical school,” she said.

    Now, DeGiovanni teaches Biology 100, the common core sequence for non-concentrators. “These days, the class is actually quite reading and writing intensive so it also draws on my interest in the humanities,” she explained.

    “I like to teach because I think it’s important for people to realize that science isn’t magic, and they can have an informed, critical outlook on what’s going on,” she said. “I try to convince students that if they can do advanced analytics in another discipline––if, for example, they can understand Kant, they should also be able to read science in an intelligent and critical way.”

    In addition to her post-graduate won Medicine, DeGiovanni also is working on a Ph.D. in English. Her research examines the influence of religion and science on 17th and 18th-century English and American literature. “I guess being a graduate of the College just made me feel like I can handle research in diverse disciplines,” she said.

    Jennifer Golbeck, Computer Science

    Jennifer Golbeck (A.B. ’99), a graduate student in Computer Science who studies artificial intelligence, loves teaching basic programming languages to non-majors. “They come in with no concept of computer science. My first task is to introduce them to the basic mindset of programming.”

    Computer Science 101: Introduction to the World Wide Web is the class Golbeck most enjoys teaching. “The students are always fantastic. When they come to my class, they want to make a Web page, and they want it to look good,” she explained. “They’ll sit down for an entire weekend and play with this stuff until they get it exactly right. I am continually just astonished by the things that they do.”

    When she was a first-year student in the College, Golbeck herself took the class she now teaches. “It was really how I started getting interested in computers in the first place,” she recalled. Now, she also teaches Computer Science 105: Scheme Programming.

    Golbeck said she enjoys the work. In teaching the material to bright, motivated beginners, she learns more about the computer languages herself. “Every time I present the material to a new group of students, I learn so much more,” she said. “It’s actually quite amazing.”

    Juan Santalo-Mediavilla, Economics

    Juan Santalo-Mediavilla, a graduate student in Economics, enjoys the challenge of getting his students to see the connections between economic theory and real-world business applications.

    He teaches Economics 280: Introduction to Industrial Organizations. “I like to stress what economic theory looks like in the real business world,” he said. “My goal is to equip them with concepts and analytical tools that are more advanced than what they had walking in at the beginning of the quarter.”

    Ninety-five percent of Santalo-Mediavilla’s students are economics concentrators. “A lot of them are interested in doing consulting or going to law school after they graduate,” he said. “They take this course because it gives them a chance to start applying their abstract knowledge to practical situations.”

    Santalo-Mediavilla said the course is not easy, but that his students are motivated to do well and always show up prepared for class. “I think that I’m lucky to have a selection of the best students in the University,” he said. “It’s actually a lot of fun, because I’ve seen the cases I teach so many times, but I always have some student who has an entirely new way of seeing things and a new point that I’ve never thought about.”