Lisa Anne Torres receives 2022 Outstanding GSI Award in Engineering

The Graduate Division and Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) Teaching and Resource Center recently presented Lisa Anne Torres with the Outstanding GSI Award in Engineering. The Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award honors over 200 UC Berkeley GSIs each year and recipients are nominated from within their teaching department. She received this award for the E295: Communications for Engineering Leaders course.

Lisa is a second-year PhD student with research focusing on design optimization in total joint replacement. She began her studies as a transfer student who received her BS in mechanical engineering from UC Berkeley in 2014. After gaining a passion for the healthcare field, she obtained her MS in biomedical engineering from Columbia University in 2018. She has worked in construction management and the medical device industry.

A student shared the following in the nomination process: “Lisa has always been exceedingly nice and helpful in all my leadership oriented classes. She facilitates a comfortable environment for the MEng students to be authentic and not be afraid to make mistakes. Her feedback is always constructive and actionable.”

Here, we had the opportunity to catch up with Lisa about her recognition and work with the MEng program.

Can you share a bit about yourself and the class you help teach in the MEng program?

I’m a proud first-generation college student, just about to finish my second year of my PhD program in mechanical engineering.

The class I help teach in the MEng program is the E295 Communications for Engineering Leaders. I’ve been so incredibly lucky to have been trained and worked with Thomas Fitzpatrick, Susan Houlihan, Mark Bauer, and Ingrid Gavshon; just a few of the outstanding E295 instructors here at the Fung Institute.

How would you describe your teaching philosophy?

For my teaching philosophy, I focus on how I’d like the students to feel. I try my best to create a safe place for students to learn and take risks. My hope is that students are able to walk away feeling heard and accepted.

“I try my best to create a safe place for students to learn and take risks. My hope is that students are able to walk away feeling heard and accepted.”

What are some lessons you’ve learned through teaching?

One big lesson that I have learned is that you need to be fully present for students, especially when I’m assessing a presentation. There is no other way to truly make an impact on students. Another lesson that I have learned, related to the previous, is that your energy is finite. Maintaining your energetic bandwidth with self care is crucial to be able to give the energy required for the success of your students.

How do you spend your free time?

I happily live in Sacramento with my fiancé and our white rescue dog Bailey. On the weekends you most likely can find me at the Midtown farmers market, buying seasonal fruit and dropping off my food scraps. I enjoy being outdoors as much as possible, which sometimes means waking up at 7AM to beat the Sac heat. For stress relief, I love to go on runs around in North Berkeley neighborhoods and practice yoga. You may also find me and a few of my lab mates top rope climbing at Pacific Pipe during the weekday evenings.

Anything else you’d like to share with the Fung Institute community?

I’m looking forward to seeing familiar faces and capstone project teams at the end of year showcase in May!

Connect with Lisa.

Edited by Ashley Villanueva

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