2019 TA Award Winners

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Each year the Department of Statistical Science honors three outstanding teaching assistants for their strong contributions to the educational mission of the department. Teaching assistants are a vital part of our educational program, helping students in many ways ranging from teaching their own weekly lab sessions to providing individualized tutoring in office hours, and in many cases even preparing their own instructional materials and covering lectures when instructors are called away to present at conferences or in other academic departments.

Sayan Patra is the 2019 PhD Student TA of the Year. Sayan served as TA for STA 711: Probability and Measure in the fall semester and for STA 360/602: Bayesian and Modern Statistics in the spring semester. “Sayan was excellent. He knows the material very well and was patient and generous with his time for the students. I’m a big fan,” notes Professor Robert Wolpert, who leads STA 711. Students raved about Sayan’s performance. “Sayan was the best TA I’ve ever had in a class, at any school, ever. He is incredibly smart and knows the material like the back of his hand. He was so helpful during office hours; he really knows how to explain things to someone from the very beginning…. I can’t speak highly enough of him, and I can’t express how grateful I am to have had Sayan as a TA for Measure Theory.” “Sayan’s knowledge about measure theory is perfect, and he is always willing to discuss problems, happy to accept doubts.”

Lisa Lebovici and Merlise ClydeLisa Lebovici (pictured here) is the 2019 MS Student TA of the Year for her work in STA 323 and 523, our statistical computing courses. Professor Colin Rundel writes “She has been an amazing TA for both of my computing courses this year and has been an invaluable resource. She is super knowledgeable and has been an outstanding resource to the students in class and during office hours.” A student added that Lisa is “amazing with regard not only to debugging code but also in explaining strategies for efficient debugging…patient and always makes sure that students understand the concepts,” with another student noting “Lisa was a great TA! She was very helpful whenever I went to office hours.” Lisa was nominated by multiple faculty members, who also noted her conscientiousness and dedication to providing an outstanding educational experience.

Merlise Clyde and Eidan JacobSenior Eidan Jacob is (pictured here) the 2019 Undergraduate Student TA of the Year for his work in STA 130: Probability and Statistics in Engineering and in STA 112, an introductory course for students in Duke’s Focus program. As Dr. Joan Durso recounts, “Eidan Jacob kindly accepted the STA 130 TA role knowing that the students would have few resources outside of him for help with their MATLAB labs. He was up to the challenge; 100% of his students rated him positively in the ‘helpfulness’ category. We introduced a new lab in 111/130 incorporating scripting this semester. Eidan enthusiastically explored the options for MATLAB, offering detailed suggestions for the revision and helping settle on the Livescripts option. He rewrote the handouts to fit his lab section. The lab went well and it is mostly due to his fearless enthusiasm, competence, and depth of knowledge. I'm delighted for Eidan that he is graduating but sad for us losing him as a TA.” Students shared Dr. Durso’s enthusiasm, noting “Always willing to help. Stayed an hour and a half after office hours for our group,” “Eidan was very helpful during lab and was a pleasure to chat with! He explained concepts well!” and “Eidan was amazing. He was super cooperative and considerate. He answered any and all of my stats questions pertaining to both labs and lectures. He was also super helpful because he was able to break down the material, which really helped me to grasp a better understanding.”

Congratulations to our TA award winners and all of our statistical science TA’s who worked hard to support our educational mission!