Marais chosen as 2020 Gustafson Award winner

Professor Karen Marais was selected by AAE juniors and seniors to win the award given annually for outstanding teaching.

An “excellent instructor” who is “enthusiastic about course material,” “puts in extensive effort” to help students succeed and who “clearly cares for students” was selected as the 2020 W.A. Gustafson Award winner.

Professor Karen Marais was chosen by AAE juniors and seniors for the annual award presented to an outstanding teacher in the School.

Karen Marais

Marais, who joined AAE faculty in 2009, taught four courses in Fall 2020. Three were specific to undergraduates (AAE200, AAE251 and AAE300), and her graduate-level 590 course also was open to undergraduate students.

“Professor Marais really takes the time to not only teach us the content and answer any questions we have, but she also takes the time to get to know us on a personal level, despite the limited in-class time,” said one student who voted for Marais for the award.

Another student called Marais an “incredible teacher, both in and out of class.”

“Helpful doesn't even cover it,” the student said. “Not only is she obviously knowledgeable in her work, she genuinely loves to share what she knows with others. I value her kindness, humor and enthusiasm for just about everything. She is well deserving of this award.”

Marais also is the School’s associate head for undergraduate education, a role she’s held since January 2018.

“This year has truly been an odd one, but the experiences that made it all worthwhile were those I had in the classroom with my students,” Marais said. “We made a lot of innovations this semester, and the students were great about playing along and about making do where needed. This year more than ever courses have truly been a team effort, and I’d like to particularly thank my co-instructor Divya Bhargava and my TAs Noah Marquand, Andrew Vuong and Arly Black.”

Winthrop “Gus” Gustafson was a faculty member in AAE from 1960-98 and has a distinguished career of teaching and service to the School, including serving as associate head and undergraduate counselor from 1981-98.

The other top vote-getters for the award in 2020 were Joseph Jewell, Sally Bane, William Crossley and Sergey Macheret. The past two Gustafson winners (Vikas Tomar and Waterloo Tsutsui) were not eligible for selection in 2020.

Publish date: December 7, 2020