Wei R. Chen - Student Introduction

Thomas Cowan
Former student of Wei R. Chen
Outstanding Master’s Universities and Colleges Professor of the Year
Willard Intercontinental Washington Hotel
Nov. 20, 2008

Dear Distinguished Guests:

It is a great honor for me to introduce Dr. Wei Chen as the recipient of the U.S. Professor of the Year Award! Dr. Chen has been an extremely influential person in my life, and I am very fortunate to have him as my teacher, mentor and friend. I don’t know any professor who is more deserving of this prestigious award.

I first met Dr. Chen in high school as my professor for modern physics. His class lectures were always highly energetic, full of stimulating examples and mind-boggling questions. He had the ability to relate complicated physics concepts such as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to everyday phenomena. His tests and assignments were very difficult, pushing the limits of our strength and capability, but allowing us to discover our weaknesses as well. Dr. Chen also gave us the opportunity to prepare class lectures and teach a class on our own. This was an awesome experience for me that made me realize my own teaching potential.

As an undergraduate in college, I spent two summers with Dr. Chen’s research group working on an exciting new cancer treatment being developed. In the laboratory, Dr. Chen had the patience to teach me everything from holding a rat to measuring tissue temperature under laser light. He also gave me the freedom to think out my own experiments and how to perform them, always having the intuition on when to guide me and when to give me the important experience of thinking things out on my own.

With his intuitive sense, Dr. Chen has the uncanny ability to guide students into high achievement with an almost invisible hand, allowing us to realize our own potential. His primary goal was not to extract work from me as an assistant but instead to nurture me to be a budding researcher. In this regard, everything I did with him was posed as a lesson in how to be a researcher, and these experiences made me realize for certain that I could lead a greatly fulfilling life as a research scientist.

I can honestly and sincerely say that Dr. Chen is the most hardworking, intelligent and enthusiastic professor I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and I can think of no other person more deserving of the prestigious recognition bestowed by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and CASE.

Thank you.