Distinguished Teaching Award/CUTF Fellow

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Cheylene Tanimoto (Gelbart/Knobler group) is one of only five UCLA graduate students selected campus-wide for the 2021 Distinguished Teaching Award for Teaching Assistants.

Tanimoto was selected for the Distinguished Teaching Award by the Academic Senate Committee on Teaching from a large field of extraordinary nominees.  Her award will be recognized in a ceremony organized by the UCLA Center for the Advancement of Teaching when it is safe to do so. Awardees receive a monetary award, along with a Dissertation Year Fellowship from the UCLA Graduate Division.

UCLA Collegium of University Teaching Fellow (CUTF)
Exceptionally, Tanimoto has also recently been chosen by the UCLA Collegium of University Teaching Fellows (CUTF) program to teach a lower-division course that she has developed entitled “Viruses, Vaccines, and the Next Global Pandemic”. The CUTF provides a one-time only opportunity for UCLA’s very best graduate students to be the instructor on record to present innovative seminars in their fields of specialization. Seminars offered through the Collegium in this way offer a limited number of UCLA’s undergraduate students the unique opportunity to engage in highly interactive and rigorous seminars led by young scholars who are deeply immersed in personal research in that field of inquiry.

About Cheylene Tanimoto
After graduating from Stanford University in 2016, Tanimoto came to UCLA and started conducting research in the UCLA Gelbart-Knobler Virus Group, where she is dissecting the pathways of viral self-assembly through cryo-electron tomography studies of individual RNA-capsid protein intermediates. Throughout her time in the department, she has taught classes ranging from biochemistry labs to thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. According to her co-advisor Professor Gelbart, “she has the unique ability to lead students through a delicate molecular biological protocol just as expertly as she helps demystify for them an abstract concept in physical chemistry”. She is also an active participant in the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) High School Nanoscience Outreach Program in which UCLA graduate students design nanoscience curricula that help K-12 educators better teach fundamental science concepts. At the start of the pandemic, Tanimoto helped continue the CNSI’s education and outreach mission during the pandemic by developing at-home experimental protocols and delivering content to students virtually as a volunteer for their two-week summer program for high school students.

About the Distinguished Teaching Award for Teaching Assistants
The goal of the UCLA Academic Senate Teaching Award is to increase awareness of UCLA’s leadership in teaching and public service by honoring individuals who bring respect and admiration to the scholarship of teaching. By recognizing teachers for their achievements, the award gives parents, donors and others insight to what makes UCLA “a beacon of excellence in higher education.” These awards are an effective way to boost morale on campus and provide role models for faculty and students.

Tanimoto joins several other former UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry graduate students who have received the honor. Previous winners include:

2019 – Katharine “KJ” Winchell – now a Assistant Teaching Professor at Gannon University.
2018 – Devon Widmer – Now living in Hawaii, developing chemistry teaching software, helping her husband run his business, and raising their future-scientist daughter.
2017 – Matthew Fontana – now a Chemistry Instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College.
2015 – Zhao Li – now a Visiting Assistant Professor at Pomona College.
2014 – Rees Garmann – now an Assistant Professor at San Diego State University.
2007 – Sadaf Sehati – now a chemistry professor at Pierce College.
2004 – Jerome-Ieronymos Zoidais – now a researcher in the Biotechnology Division of the Biomedical Research Foundation, Academy of Athens (BRFAA).
2000 – Dean Tantillo – now a chemistry professor at UC Davis.
1999 – David Klein – now an author and senior chemistry lecturer at Johns Hopkins University.
1995 – Nate Brandstater – now president of Kettering College.
1978 – Rosemarie Szostak – now a senior analyst at Nerac.
1976 – Hsi-Chao Chow 
1975 – Wayne Evans

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.