Published May 18, 2020
The Department of Biological Sciences is pleased to announce that Nicole Wong has won the University at Buffalo Graduate School's 2020 Excellence in Teaching Award for Graduate Teaching Assistants. Wong is currently a PhD candidate based in the lab of Dr. Matthew Xu-Friedman, who serves as her mentor. Wong was sponsored for the award by Dr. Lara D. Hutson, Clinical Associate Professor Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Nicole served as a lead Teaching Assistant (TA) in BIO 201 (Cell Biology) in the Summer of 2016 and Spring of 2017. Dr. Hutson commended Nicole as “one of the most engaged, proactive, and capable TAs”. In UB Course evaluations, Nicole was rated as excellent consistently in multiple categories. Nicole also mentored undergraduates in the lab of her thesis advisor, Matthew Xu-Friedman. She trained them in lab techniques, and discussed experimental ideas with them. She has said she finds such interactions very rewarding, and she is aiming to make that a large part of her future career. As President of the Department’s Graduate Student Association, Nicole organized two Graduate Student Symposia in 2019 and 2020, as well as a Career Workshop in 2019, for alumni to provide advice to current graduate students about non-academic careers. She organized a workshop to help undergraduates find research opportunities at UB. As she says “I aim to create the same supportive environment that was provided to me during the formative years in my life in the hopes that students can find a path that they can be passionate about." Nicole raised the bar for how a graduate student can serve the teaching mission both within and outside the classroom.