Mariela Petkova has earned an outstanding teaching record for her noteworthy performance as a teaching fellow in LS50, a full-year Integrated Science double course. She excelled at teaching the exceptionally demanding course, which combines biology, chemistry, computing, math, and physics. Forming a bond with her students through lectures and labs has shaped the quality of the curriculum she had taught, leaving a rewarding impact on the academic lives of her students. Mariela has been described as the “secret ingredient that makes it possible for a course to be as demanding yet as well-liked as LS50,” says Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology Andrew Murray. Being acknowledged as a key educator in a rigorous field speaks volumes about the type of teacher Mariela truly is. Mariela is a physicist dedicated to developing novel ways for students to gain excitement from learning new concepts. It is extraordinary how a course that has often been described as “the hardest challenge” of many students’ academic lives, has transformed into a gratifying experience. Mariela is praised for consistently being available outside of class and delivering thorough explanations when helping a student with an assignment. One student wrote, “Mariela is the perfect TF for LS50, as she actually made it so much easier and was extremely helpful and willing to help.”

The excellence of Mariela’s handling of LS50 is unsurpassed. Professor Murray says that Mariela is by far one of “the most effective teaching fellows” he has seen in 30 years of teaching undergraduates, graduate students, and medical students. Mariela is inspired by intelligence and invests an immense amount of effort and kindness in every section she teaches. One student described her as, “Wonderful, phenomenal, and approachable.” Another student wrote, “She was approachable and drew very detailed diagrams that helped better explain lecture topics.” A common theme about Mariela is that, despite the obscurities that arise in such subject matter, she always made her students feel comfortable and helped combat their confusion, no matter what it took.

Professor Murray acknowledges that the success of this new and challenging course was made possible thanks to Mariela’s efforts.

Mariela, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is pleased to present you with the Derek C. Bok Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching of Undergraduates. Congratulations!

Read more about the 2020 Bok Awards

Mariela Petkova: 2020 Derek C. Bok Award Citation