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Engineering professor honored at annual Teaching Academy Gala


On May 8, New Mexico State University celebrated the 21st annual Teaching Academy Gala: Champagne and Chocolate, to honor members and donors. The Teaching Academy offers tools, strategies and workshops to NMSU faculty, staff, and graduate instructors so they can thrive as educators and mentors. 

Through the Teaching Academy, 849 faculty, staff and graduate students participated in 8,149 hours of instruction. The gala commemorated donors for their contributions to the Teaching Academy which assist in all aspects of the Academy’s vision and mission.

The Teaching Academy honored its members, most distinguished member, an outstanding mentor and an innovative teacher. Among them was Professor of Practice in Mechanical Engineering Jesse Waller.

Waller was honored as the Most Distinguished Member of the Year. He earned this title by participating in the most faculty development events in 2023. Waller worked in contract, industry and government labs for more than 30 years. In 2022, he became a full-time faculty member at NMSU and currently teaches courses in mechanical and aerospace engineering.

“Teachers like Jesse get the ‘best teacher ever’ comments from time to time, but seldom is a teacher called a goat,” said Chris Bickford, instructional consultant at the Academy, who presented the award. “In one of his teaching evaluations, Jesse was certainly surprised to be called a goat. He was later relieved to learn it stood for Greatest of All Time or G-O-A-T.”

The Outstanding Mentor of the Year Award was presented to Marat Talipov, chemistry and biochemistry associate professor. His research focuses on harnessing the power of supercomputers for discovery of novel small molecules and machine-learning design of photovoltaic materials.

The Truly Innovative Teaching Award was presented to Stacy Gherardi, associate professor and interim co-director of the School of Social Work. Gherardi’s research focuses on school social work, community school movement and trauma-informed education.

“You are to be congratulated because, with your ever-busier schedules, you still managed to carve out time for professional development,” Teaching Academy Director Tara Gray said. “We thank you and honor you.”