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Hee-Sun Han receives Amy L. Devine Award for commitment to student learning

BY Tracy Crane

Hee-Sun Han (GNDP/IGOH), a Mark A. Pytosh Scholar and an assistant professor of chemistry, has received the Amy L. Devine Award for her willingness to "go above and beyond" to ensure that her students are understanding the concepts she is teaching in her class.

Hee-Sun Han
Hee-Sun Han

Each semester, the Illinois chapter of Alpha Omega Epsilon, an international engineering and technical science sorority, recognizes an individual or organization for their contribution to the university, engineering students, or the engineering profession with the Amy L. Devine Award. Elizabeth Spahn, AOE awards chair, said Han was recognized for her contribution in supporting many students during tough academic times.

One student nominator described how Han supported her students in the course she teaches, Chem420: Instrumental Analysis. “Professor Han is always looking out for the students in her class as well as always going above and beyond in order to make sure that everyone is understanding the concepts as well as they can,” the nominator wrote.

The student said that midway through the semester, Han gave students an evaluation form which offered them the opportunity to communicate how they felt about the class at that point and asked for input on suggested changes.

"Professor Han took all these suggestions well into account, and even changed certain aspects of the course in order to address everyone's needs. She is caring and fair in her class, and the teaching materials offered as fill-in lecture notes were always helpful as well. She really deserves this award!" the nominator wrote.

Han said she is very honored to be recognized by students. “I believe that science can only be sustained through the constant infusion of young, passionate scientists and engineers from diverse backgrounds. This award further motivates me to keep serving as a good teacher, mentor, and role model for undergraduate students,” she said.

Han said she believes it is important to support students as much as possible, because what students learn in college has a major impact on their careers and their interest in science. “Not only will it help students who choose to have a career in science but many professionals I have met who chose non-science career paths told me that their college science classes greatly helped them develop logical and quantitative decision-making strategies,” she said. “Through teaching, I serve a greater community. It is also highly rewarding to see how students grow!”

Han explained that Chem420 requires a very different style of learning compared to other chemistry classes, because rather than taking a deep dive into a topic, students learn how to integrate different chemical and engineering concepts to design instruments and analyze and interpret the data. To help them navigate this different style of learning, she said she has implemented various learning and teaching strategies, provided them with various learning resources and communicates with students as much as possible to ensure they are "on the same page."

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