Polvani Wins Great Teacher Award

Prof. Lorenzo M. Polvani of the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics and Christia Mercer, Gustave M. Berne Professor in the Department of Philosophy, received the Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates (SOCG) at its annual dinner on October 23 in Low Library Rotunda.

The 2008 winners were announced by Alexandra Baranetsky ‘75, DDS’80, president of the Society. Henry Graff, Professor Emeritus in the History Department, gave the keynote address, “A New President Again,” on the then upcoming presidential election.

The Society of Columbia Graduates, formed over 99 years ago, established the Great Teachers Award in 1949 to honor exceptional teachers of undergraduate students in Columbia College and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. Each year, one award is given to a faculty member from each of the faculties that serves the College and Engineering.

Polvani joined Columbia SEAS in 1990 from M.I.T., where he received a Ph.D. degree in physical oceanography and had been an instructor in applied mathematics. He received tenure in 1996 and was named a professor of applied mathematics in 2000, when he also received a joint appointment as professor of earth and environmental sciences. He was an inaugural winner of the Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award, established in 1997 by the Columbia Engineering School Alumni Association to recognize exceptional teaching at the undergraduate level.

Polvani’s research interests lie in atmospheric and climate dynamics, geophysical fluid dynamics, numerical methods for weather and climate modeling, and planetary atmospheres. His most recent published research focuses on the expected closing of the ozone hole in the second half of the century and its impact. See the article below for more information.

In student evaluations, Prof. Polvani has been praised as a passionate teacher who cares about his students, has a straightforward and well planned teaching style, and is very understandable and approachable. One student wrote, “Charisma, charisma, charisma. Very passionate professor with excellent classroom delivery. Clearly he has passion for the subject and cares about his students.”

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