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For immediate release: June 24, 2004
Media contact: Eric Quiñones, (609) 258-5748, quinones@princeton.edu

Four honored for their work mentoring graduate students

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Four Princeton faculty members have been named the recipients of Graduate Mentoring Awards by the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning and were honored during the Graduate School's hooding ceremony on Monday, May 31.

They are: Niraj Jha, professor of electrical engineering; Philip Johnson-Laird, the Stuart Professor of Psychology; Robert Tignor, the Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History; and Timothy Watson, assistant professor of English.

The McGraw Center, together with the Graduate School, instituted the award in 2002 to recognize Princeton faculty members whose work with graduate students is particularly outstanding. It is intended to honor faculty members who nurture the intellectual, professional and personal growth of their graduate students.

Graduate students nominate faculty members for the award and, along with faculty members, serve on the committee that selects the winners. One faculty member in each academic division (humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering) is chosen. In addition to being honored at the ceremony, each received a $1,000 award and a commemorative gift.

"In each case today, graduate students talked about how generously the faculty member shared his time in guiding them in their scholarly work, supporting them in the transition from student to scholar and professional and, in many cases, offering them friendship as well," said Linda Hodges, director of the McGraw Center, during the ceremony.

A faculty member at Princeton since 1987, Jha teaches and conducts research on low-power hardware and software synthesis, embedded system analysis and design, design algorithms and tools for nanotechnologies, system-on-a-chip synthesis and digital system testing.

"His enthusiasm and optimism always makes us confident and willing to take on more and more challenges," said one graduate student in his nomination. "As much as he is our adviser and our mentor, he is also like a friend," wrote another.

Johnson-Laird, a faculty member at Princeton since 1989, is a leading cognitive scientist. His teaching and research interests include the psychology of reasoning and language.

"His constant encouragement, well-thought constructive criticism and enthusiasm all reflect his passion for research and teaching, as well as a deep respect for me and all the other graduate students, whom he considers colleagues," wrote one student in a nomination letter. Another wrote, "His humbleness, honesty, sincerity and humility all make him a true model for us in academe."

A Princeton faculty member since 1960, Tignor teaches and conducts research on African history, world history and imperialism.

"Working under his aegis has taught me how to foster and refine my intellectual enthusiasm with painstaking and rigorous attention to detail," wrote one graduate student. "His criticism is always constructive and based in his faith in his students' abilities -- hence he instills both confidence and determination." Another wrote, "[His] door is always open to his students."

Watson joined the Princeton faculty in 2000. He teaches and conducts research on
post-colonial studies, 19th- and 20th-century British and Caribbean literature and culture, cultural studies and literary theory.

"When working with him, I feel like both a constructive collaborator and a fortunate apprentice," wrote one graduate student. "He encourages me and my classmates to see ourselves as fellow thinkers and has impressed me with his deep commitment to our interests," wrote another.

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