2000 Pinanski Prize Citation

Presentations of the Awards

Professor Mary Coyne

How long can a person fleeing from killer bees survive under three feet of water breathing through a long hollow reed?

If you had to hike up to the top of the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the dead of winter what kind of clothing should you wear and what methods of heat and water regulation would keep you alive?

For students in Mary Coyne's biological science courses these life-or-death questions provide a fun and interactive learning experience. One student writes "every concept comes hand-in-hand with a real life example or story, and trust me, she never runs out!"

In Professor Coyne's class "it is not enough to memorize and regurgitate how many sodium molecules drive the action potential or how many calcium antagonists can be named and spelled correctly," one students writes. "Her challenge is active problem solving: can you learn and can you use these mechanisms to truly understand how the body works?"

Another student reports "because of Professor Coyne's wealth of knowledge and experience we have learned so much from these labs." But, better yet, the student explains "because of her enthusiastic and jovial personality we have had a lot of fun in the process"

Mary Coyne is known for the rigor of her courses, leading one student to comment " I don't mind the work or the grading &endash; in fact, I value the fact that she is tough on us &endash; because I am learning a ton!"

Students enjoy the opportunity to participate in Professor Coyne's own research, monitoring their basal temperature over the course of the semester for her temperature regulation study. "Professor Coyne has been very patient through our plethora of self-diagnosed rare illnesses and panic attacks when a device showed our heart rate to be 20 beats per minute or our RQ to be better than an Olympic marathoner because we put the device on backwards or forgot to multiply the correction factor." These hands-on experiences have provided students with an invaluable medical school atmosphere while introducing them to the rigors of scientific research.

One nominator spoke for many when she wrote: "Professor Mary Coyne served as a mentor, teacher and friend to me and my classmates and she inspired us to push even harder on the journey of learning."

Professor Martin Brody

"Accessibility," "passion," sensitivity," "courage," "eloquence": these are just some of the terms students nominators used to describe Martin Brody.

As one student elaborated "Professor Brody's value to our community is immeasurable; his participation in it embodies the highest of its ideals. I can hardly imagine a more deserving and appropriate recipient for this prize."

Repeatedly students wrote about Marty Brody's accessibility both inside and outside the classroom and his remarkable mentoring skills. Tales were told of graduate school applications faxed, page by page, to his home for a final review the day before the deadline; of finding a willing ear and support during a difficult period of first-year "adjustment;" and of hours spent in lively conversation charting out possible career paths.

The picture that emerges from student descriptions of their experiences in Martin Brody's classes is of a community of learners in which students are actively engaged with the material, with their professor, and with one another. Professor Brody actively seeks student feedback and, as one student reports, "I gave plenty; he was very open to my ideas and made a sincere effort to incorporate them in the following classes."

Within this welcoming environment, Professor Brody is able to take risks and introduce students to unfamiliar material. As one student explains, he "constantly runs the risk of people asking "What is he talking about, and why is he talking about it?" And, somehow, he always manages to speak with such clarity and precision … that his students remain rapt rather than confused."

The influence Marty Brody has on his students is an enduring one. One graduate wrote about her pleasure at discovering that her memories of her studies with Professor Brody have intensified rather than diminished over time. "The quiet understanding that I always felt in his classroom, with his characteristic nods, sometimes gets a hold of me unexpectedly as I am listening to one of my own students eager to articulate an idea. I nod my head like Mr. Brody too."

In summary, as one student put it succinctly: "He is our friend, our teacher, our Mr. Brody."