Kristyn Masters earns UW-Madison Emil H. Steiger teaching award
or ssistant Professor Kristyn Masters’ colleagues describe her as a highly talented academic and scholar who has shown excellence in numerous aspects of biomedical engineering education, including course development, innovative instruction methods, research in engineering education and campuswide promotion of teaching and mentoring improvement.
“In less than five years, she has had an extraordinary impact on engineering education and is currently disseminating this work to broader audiences at national and international conferences,” says her department chair, Robert Radwin. “Her activities in teaching and learning stand out as exemplary not only in our department, but in the College of Engineering and on the Madison campus as a whole. Our department, college and campus have all benefited from her innovation and passion for education.”
Masters began teaching at UW-Madison in the fall of 2004, quickly demonstrating a profound dedication to teaching, says Radwin.
In her first year, Masters attended five teaching-related workshops, initiated outreach collaboration with a local high school; formed a collaboration with the Delta Program in Research, Teaching and Learning; and developed two new courses.
She developed an interdisciplinary course, Political, Ethical, Social & Global Issues in BME, which offers an issues-based approach to learning technical concepts while training students how to be responsible scientists and science-literate citizens.
She has done research to find out why instructors are reluctant to include ethics material in their courses.
“Many universities are trying to tackle the challenge of introducing ethics into the engineering curriculum, and Kristyn Masters has certainly emerged as a leader in this area,” says Radwin.
Masters employs nine graduate students and five undergraduates in her lab. She is a faculty advisor for the Society of Women Engineers chapter and a member of the Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. “I have always been slightly unsure about the concept of pursuing a career in a research-dominated field,” says a student, “but if any of my future work environments are as welcoming and supportive as the one that Kristyn creates, I would not hesitate to join them. She is excited about her research, and that enthusiasm is contagious.”
April Zehm, an MD candidate in the School of Medicine and Public Health, says Masters displays a genuine concern for her students on both the academic and personal levels and is a great role model, particularly for females in science and engineering.
“Her high levels of commitment, confidence and sense of focus predict that she will continue to motivate her students and help them achieve their educational and professional goals for many years to come,” says Zehm.
Masters says her favorite part of teaching is directly interacting with a diverse range of students.
“Their creativity is often quite invigorating and inspiring, and I am frequently amazed at what our students are able to brainstorm and accomplish. I also find it extremely satisfying when the classroom transforms into a mutual learning environment, where both the students and I come away from class with new knowledge and experiences. I greatly enjoy lively classroom discussions, where students engage each other in discussing or debating a concept, and I am able to become more of a learning facilitator, rather than teacher,” says Masters.
“This is somewhat amusing and ironic, as I personally went through my entire undergraduate and graduate education without raising my hand or volunteering an answer even once!”