GW Student and Faculty Members Win Prizes at Regional NAGS Event

Two professors were lauded for teaching and doctoral student for encore presentation of thesis at hyper speed.

May 13, 2024

At left, Gina Adam and NAGS president Joshua Barker; at right, Rohini Ganjoo

At left, Gina Adam and NAGS president Joshua Barker; at right, Rohini Ganjoo. (Contributed photos)

The George Washington University made a triumphant showing at the annual meeting of the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools (NAGS) in Québec City, Canada, where two faculty members, Gina Adam and Rohini Ganjoo, received awards for excellence in graduate teaching, and graduate student Leah Kaplan won the ”People’s Choice” award in the regional finals of the Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition. NAGS is one of four regional affiliates of the Council of Graduate Schools, and its members include graduate institutions in the northeastern U.S. and Canada.

Earlier this semester, Kaplan’s highly condensed presentation of her doctoral thesis won first prize in the 3MT contest held at GW. As the winner of that event, she was eligible to compete in the regional competition. Her project, “AI Behind the Wheel: Work, Economics and Preferences in the Era of Autonomous Vehicles,” examined the consequences of artificial intelligence in driverless taxi technology. Kaplan is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in systems engineering at the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS).

Leah Kaplan delivers a highly condensed version of her thesis
Leah Kaplan, a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in systems engineering, won a prize for delivering a highly condensed version of her thesis in three minutes. (Contributed photo)

Adam, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of SEAS, won the award for teaching excellence at the doctoral level. Ganjoo, director of the medical laboratory sciences program and associate professor of biomedical laboratory sciences in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, was recognized for excellence in teaching at the master’s level.

The university’s positive reception at the NAGS meeting was especially gratifying since this was the first year GW had participated in the regional competitions, according to Autumn Anthony of the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs (OGPA).

Suresh Subramaniam, vice provost for graduate and postdoctoral affairs, wrote letters supporting the nominations of Adam and Ganjoo for the teaching awards. He particularly praised Adam’s talents as a mentor.

“Gina is particularly talented in bringing her experience as a distinguished research scholar in nanoelectronics to a level that is accessible and inspiring to our doctoral students,” Subramaniam wrote, “and for providing innovative pedagogy based on virtual reality.”

After returning from Québec City, Adam said she felt increased motivation to innovate in her educational efforts and thanked her students and colleagues for their support.

"I am humbled by the recognition from the NAGS,” Adam said. “I have learned so much over the years from my colleagues and from the students in my classes, so this is also a shout-out to them for all their support. This award gives me extra motivation to continue to innovate in nanoelectronics education, to expand on our virtual reality cleanroom simulator and to provide more educational and research opportunities for our existing and prospective doctoral students.”

Though she did not attend the meeting in Canada, Ganjoo said she was delighted to be recognized by NAGS.

“Winning this award has been like getting an A+ on the final exam,” Ganjoo said. She said she dedicated her award “to all my students, past and present, who continually motivate me!”

Praising Ganjoo’s obvious love for teaching, Subramaniam wrote, “What truly stands out regarding Rohini is her commitment to strengthening her own teaching skills while sharing her knowledge with peers. She is constantly in a learning mindset.”

Kaplan competed over Zoom for the regional 3MT contest, which was held virtually.

“I am honored to have been selected for the NAGS People's Choice award,” Kaplan said, “as it means that I was able to communicate my research in a way that was accessible and engaging to a broad audience. This recognition motivates me to continue making research accessible, sparking curiosity and empowering individuals to participate in shaping the societal impact of emerging technologies.”

Subramaniam congratulated all the winners and said he was gratified by the recognition for GW beyond Foggy Bottom.

“GW has always had excellent graduate students and educators whom we routinely recognize internally,” Subramaniam said. “It is nice to see our best being recognized more widely, especially considering the quality of some of the institutions in the northeastern region.”