Life changers

Biological sciences student stories

Nathan Thyparambil photo by Aisha Muhammad
Nathan Thyparambil won the Graduate Teaching Award on March 23, 2018. Photo by Aisha Muhammad.

Nathan Thyparambil, Graduate Teaching Award

Story by Aisha Muhammad

On May 4, 2018

Nathan Thyparambil, a graduate student studying biological sciences, won the Graduate Teaching Award on March 23, 2018. He won the award during his first semester teaching general chemistry lab.

To become a graduate teaching assistant (GTA), Thyparambil had to go through S&T’s graduate teaching assistant workshop over the summer of 2017. It was a week long process of learning teaching assistant responsibilities, going to workshops, and giving presentations. He was ultimately set to be a GTA for the general chemistry lab.
“There’s a huge time commitment that comes with being a TA,” said Thyparambil. As a graduate teaching assistant for a lab, Thyparambil was required to thoroughly know how to do and understand the class experiments, to assist students with said experiments, to answer any questions students may have regarding the subject matter, to grade papers, and much more.

Students said that Thyparambil was able to push and challenge them while, at the same time, he was also very approachable. His humor and understanding allowed them to feel comfortable in the classroom and willing to ask more questions.

“I saw myself in their shoes, so I tried my best to communicate effectively to the students,” said Thyparambil. “Being able to communicate the steps to the students was challenging at times. I was doing my best to understand what the experiments were going to be and doing some background research on things I had to re-teach myself.”

When Thyparambil decided to take on the role of becoming a graduate teaching assistant, he had no idea that he would receive a nearly perfect score from his student evaluations. Upon being notified that he would be receiving the Graduate Teaching Award, Thyparambil said “I was really surprised because as a biology student I thought I would have a disadvantage being a chemistry TA.” Currently, Thyparambil is pursuing his master's degree and aspires to do work involving biotechnology. He is set to have an internship with MilliporeSigma in St. Louis and hopes to gain experience there that will help him in his research and future career.