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Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Professor Yao came to Columbia Engineering's Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (IEOR) in 1983, after receiving his M.A.Sc. and Ph.D. in that discipline from the University of Toronto. Following a two-year hiatus at Harvard University where he was associate professor of systems engineering from 1986 to 1988, he returned to Columbia as a full professor with tenure.
Known for his expertise in supply chain management, Professor Yao holds six U.S. patents in manufacturing operations and supply chain logistics. His teaching and research interests are in stochastic models, queues and queuing networks, and in the analysis, design, and control of stochastic systems. He has done extensive research in semiconductor manufacturing, computer systems scheduling, Internet and Webserver performance optimization, and supply chain management.
A leader in his field, Professor Yao is the author or coauthor of over 180 refereed publications, three books, and five edited volumes, is the stochastic models area editor of the journal, Operations Research, and has served on the editorial board of several other leading journals. He is an elected Fellow of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. A Guggenheim Fellow and NSF Presidential Young Investigator, he has received multiple Innovation Achievement Awards from IBM Research as well as the IBM Outstanding Technical Achievement Award and IBM Faculty Award.
His students praise his commitment to teaching and his ability to inspire them, to make complex subject matter understandable, and to communicate it with humor and with passion. His instinctive pedagogical focus sparked him to develop several exceptional academic programs within the IEOR Department, including the highly successful, nationally ranked master's degree program in financial engineering. For his extraordinary dedication to undergraduate students, he was honored by the Columbia Engineering Alumni Association with the Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award in 2009.
Known for your patience, careful attention, and natural ability to easily explain complicated models and concepts, you have been characterized by your students as an outstanding, attentive teacher who motivates them to learn. Your commitment to teaching has enabled you to develop and maintain excellent relations with your students. They have said that you not only teach them how to effectively solve problems and understand the subject, you teach them life lessons as well. This is particularly helpful for students as they continue to navigate their way both in and outside of the classroom, and as they begin to map out future plans.
For your strength as an educator, you were honored with the 2009 Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award bestowed by the Columbia Engineering Alumni Association for excellence in teaching undergraduates. At Columbia, where you have taught now for more than two decades, you have taken the lead on developing several academic programs, including the highly successful master's degree in financial engineering at SEAS. Your attention to curriculum underscores the importance you place on connecting with students--being available to answer any questions and caring personally about their progress. Your teaching and research interests are in stochastic models, queues, focusing on the analysis, design, and control of stochastic systems. You have done extensive research and consulting work in a wide range of applications, from semiconductor fabrication and inventory and distribution planning to scheduling and resource management in computer operating systems.
After completing your graduate and doctorate degrees in industrial engineering and operations research from the University of Toronto, you set off for New York and came to Columbia as an assistant professor in the IEOR Department in 1983. You then joined Harvard as associate professor of systems engineering, where you taught for two years before returning to Columbia in 1988 as a full professor.
In addition to your reputation as an outstanding teacher, you also are celebrated in your field. You are the holder of six U.S. patents in manufacturing operations and supply chain logistics, and have been the principal investigator for numerous grants and contracts. You have authored or co-authored more than 190 scientific publications, books, and edited volumes. Your research contributions have been recognized with multiple awards including the Guggenheim Fellow, the IBM Faculty Award, the IBM Outstanding Technical Achievement Award, and the Presidential Young Investigator honor by the National Science Foundation.
Therefore, in appreciation for your constant dedication to undergraduate education, and with profound gratitude for all that you have given to your students and to Columbia University; the Society of Columbia Graduates hereby presents you with the 2012 Great Teacher Award.
Cathy Popkin, Jesse and George Siegel Professor in the Humanities, came to Columbia in 1986 after teaching as an assistant professor at Dartmouth College. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Stanford University and did her undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University in the College of Letters. She is the author of The Pragmatics of Insignificance: Chekhov, Zoshchenko, Gogol , and a corpus of articles on Russian writers; she is the editor and compiler of the Norton Critical Edition of Anton Chekhov's Selected Stories . She is one of the foremost Chekhov scholars at work today, a revered specialist in Russian literature and in critical theory, a superb writer of critical prose, a brilliant and original thinker, a persuasive advocate for humanistic learning at large and for the Core Curriculum at Columbia, and a legendary teacher. She received the Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Award in 2012. As one of the most respected members of the Columbia community, Cathy Popkin is often sought after for service on University and professional committees, task forces, advisory boards and juries.
As a teacher in the Slavic Department, Professor Popkin is known especially for her nineteenth-century survey, "Literature and Empire," her thesis seminar for graduating seniors, her proseminar for beginning graduate students, and her masterful graduate seminars on Chekhov and Turgenev.
She is a star in the Literature Humanities classroom, where she is known for engaging the students in the material in a way that sticks with them and for her high expectations and skill at helping students develop as writers, thinkers, and citizens. Her students are grateful and her continuing interest in their development is so profound that she regularly reconvenes her Literature Humanities classes three years later when they are seniors and preparing to graduate. She served as Chair of Literature Humanities (1997-2000) and received an Award for Distinguished Service to the Core Curriculum in 2003.
The Society of Graduates honors you for being a truly great teacher of literature. Your classrooms are known for their magic. You enlighten and inspire your students, from those just starting off in Literature Humanities to the seasoned students of Russian literature you teach in the Slavic Department.
The Columbia Core Curriculum has been blessed to have you as its ardent advocate and one of its most effective and inspiring teachers. You set high standards for your students as thinkers, as interlocutors, as writers. You have always been there to help them reach that mark. Students thank you for training them to discover timely truths in these timeless texts. For many, their Literature Humanities notes become a cherished guide to life.
You are to be commended for inspiring others, from graduate students in the Slavic Department to colleagues across campus, to teach Literature Humanities. As you yourself put it recently, it is "stunning" to behold "1,000 people... trying to make sense of the same thing at the same time." Your enthusiasm for the Core is contagious and your Award for Distinguished Service to the Core Curriculum in 2003 was most richly deserved.
The courses you teach in the Slavic Department are at the heart of its curriculum. You have made Columbia an important hub in the study of the work of Anton Chekhov. Your Norton's Critical Edition of Anton Chekhov's Selected Stories is destined to become the definitive Chekhov anthology in English. And your monograph Bodies of Knowledge: Chekhov's Corpus, which draws on your recent work in medical humanities, will be a model of how to bridge the gap between the two realms of humanities and science.
In your fabled "Literature and Empire" course, you introduce students to the workings of the nineteenth-century Russian novel in an atmosphere that is stimulating and fun. You are able to engage even large groups of students in the form of inquiry that is at the heart of the Columbia tradition. You are known for training students to ask "how?" and "to what end?" before they try to answer 'why?" These Popkin questions become second nature to your students and their understanding of literature is richer as a result. Your Teaching Assistants have noticed that by the end of the semester, some of your students even start spontaneously making the kind of creative associations that are the hallmark of your literary scholarship.
Your students credit you for the lasting impact you have on their lives and Columbia is truly fortunate to have you on its faculty.
With deep appreciation for your efforts as a teacher and as a distinguished member of the Columbia community, the Society of Columbia Graduates hereby honors you with the 2012 Great Teachers Award.