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Nicholas Hatsopoulos receives the Quantrell Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

The University annually recognizes faculty for their incredible teaching and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students through the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Awards, believed to be the nation’s oldest prize for undergraduate teaching.

In 2024, five faculty members received this award. Professor Nicholas Hatsopoulos, PhD from the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy is among them. Learn more below:

Nicholas Hatsopoulos, Professor, Organismal Biology and Anatomy 

Nicholas Hatsopoulos teaches a course titled "Neuroscience of Consciousness," delving into a subject that has intrigued him since his undergraduate days, when he minored in philosophy. 

He has always been fascinated by questions surrounding free will, which propelled him into this field of study. Though consciousness is not his primary area of research as a neuroscience professor, Hatsopoulos said he finds immense joy in engaging with his students and the lively discussions that ensue during his lectures. 

"I love the interactions I have with the students and all the questions they ask during my lectures,” he said. “The students here are really smart and inquisitive. They genuinely want to learn and not just get a good grade."

Hatsopoulos fosters an environment of active participation in his classroom. He encourages interruptions and questions, believing that dialogue is essential for deep learning. If he doesn’t know the answer to a question, he is not afraid to say he doesn’t know but says he’ll try to get an answer by the next class.

He assigns students the task of critiquing two papers they read each week, promptly discussing some of the submissions in the following class. Throughout the course, debates on consciousness-related topics stimulate further exploration and critical thinking.

“I want them to interrupt me and ask questions,” he said. "The message I give them at the beginning of the course is telling them that we won't ultimately answer the question as to how consciousness arises from the brain, but hopefully they will learn about some of the experiments and theories and learn some neuroscience in the process.”

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