Ihab Younis receives Meritorious Teaching Award 2023
Ihab Younis has been named the Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q) Meritorious Teaching Award recipient for 2023. Younis joined the CMU-Q faculty in 2016, and is now the area head of biological sciences.
Each graduating class nominates faculty members for the Meritorious Teaching Award to recognize exceptional teaching and service to students. The recipient is then selected by a committee of faculty members and the award is presented by Michael Trick, dean of CMU-Q, at the graduation ceremony.
After the ceremony, Younis reflected on the importance of teaching in an undergraduate institution.
What does it mean to you to receive the Meritorious Teaching Award?
I am extremely humbled that the graduating seniors, now alumni, nominated me for this award. Receiving this honor makes the hard work that I and other faculty do, and all the effort we put into our teaching, worth it. I think it also demonstrates that faculty who are passionate about research-based teaching strategies, inclusive teaching, and the development of independent thinkers, are appreciated by CMU-Q and the students themselves.
What is your background in teaching?
I was not trained as a teacher before I started teaching at CMU-Q, so the last few years I worked very hard to educate myself on how to be an effective educator. I worked closely with the Eberly Center at Carnegie Mellon’s main campus, and got involved in every opportunity available to become a better teacher: a teacher who not only cares about delivering scientific content accurately, but also cares about how the students receive it and more importantly how they apply it outside my classroom.
How does teaching influence the other parts of your job, like research?
Teaching is a central part of my job and influences everything I do. For example, I do not see much separation between teaching and research. My teaching is influenced by my research and the state of the art of my field, and my research is influenced by my teaching. I use similar strategies in the lab that I use in a classroom to develop critical thinking, scientific independence and creativity in my students.
What has been the most significant way that your teaching has grown and changed since you came to CMU?
At the start I was more focused on delivering content accurately. At CMU, I realized that learning is a science in itself and students receive information and retain it in different ways. I learned how to be inclusive in my teaching. How to keep the rigor of the course but use active learning strategies that enhance student engagement and retention. I learned that a student who feels that they belong in my course—and the biological sciences major overall—is way more motivated to learn. I also learned that developing the students’ transferable skills, like trouble-shooting, critical thinking, writing scientifically and presenting science is as important as being top scholars. So I guess my teaching has grown to ensure that we graduate well-rounded scholars who are ready for the real world.