Austin also recognizes her career and accomplishments are in part due to the energy and contributions others have poured into her life.

“I couldn’t do my job so well without Barbara Munk. She is a wonderful counterpart and helps keep my sanity in check. She is monumental in letting me bounce ideas off her and helping me find the right solution.

“Another person I credit is Ian Gould. He really inspires me every day as a teaching professional. He was my PhD adviser and is a scientist who truly cares about effective education. He has a drive to help students succeed and always leads with kindness.”

The next step in Austin’s career begins this summer. She will be taking on a new position at The College as director of online engagement and strategic initiatives, where she will work to increase research and internship opportunities for online students, and to provide them with resources they need to better prepare them for their careers.

Ara is the most dedicated and naturally talented instructor I have ever met," said Gould, interim director of the School of Molecular Sciences. "She has a unique ability to see problems from a student perspective, which allows her to adapt for their benefit. Her skills and talents also go well beyond the classroom, the way she has guided our online program has, without exaggeration, impacted and improved the lives of thousands of students who otherwise were excluded from college education. She is exceptionally deserving of this award!

James Klemaszewski

Science writer, School of Molecular Sciences