Congratulations! We are so excited to celebrate you and all your accomplishments.

See below a message from Dean Tricia Serio and speeches from students representing each of our 14 academic departments and programs. Continue scrolling to see spotlights of our outstanding and distinguished advising and teaching award winners and a message from the CNS Advising Center. Then click on the navigation bars on the right to visit your graduate’s department, where the Celebrations continue! Also, check out news of our iCons Senior Expo celebrations here.

Post your congratulatory messages to our graduates on our social media platforms (Instagram: @UMassCNS, Twitter: @UMass_CNS, Facebook: @CollegeofNaturalSciencesUMassAmherst) using the hashtag #CNSGrads2021

It was our pre-pandemic tradition for the CNS Outstanding Teaching and Advisor awardees and the Distinguished Teaching Award winners to be honored by leading the processional at our CNS Senior Celebration. As part of our 2021 Virtual Celebration, we offer this Spotlight to introduce this year’s recipients.

CNS Outstanding Advisor

Meghan Gerson, Academic Advisor, Biology

Meghan Gerson“Knowing all of the amazing advisors in the College of Natural Sciences, it is an honor to be recognized as this year’s outstanding advisor. I love what I do. All students care about what courses they take. However, advising is much more than helping students pick their courses. It is about providing students with the support they need so they can reach their full potential. Being able to connect individually with students is always a joy, and in this last year of uncertainty and chaos, still having those connections continue virtually has made this atypical advising year seem almost normal. For those of you graduating this year, I am so proud of you all! Commencement and the College of Natural Sciences Senior Celebration are the highlights of a typical year for me. Although we are not celebrating how we imagined, this in no way lessens your achievements. I hope you all take time to celebrate your accomplishments! Congratulations Graduates!”

CNS Outstanding Teachers

John Bickford, Senior Lecturer, Psychological and Brain Sciences

John Bickford“If you want to be truly well loved and admired, don't focus on convincing others how wonderful you are; focus on convincing them how wonderful they are.”

Donald Candela, Professor, Physics

Donald Candela“I am delighted and honored to have been selected for this teaching award. For me, the keys to successful teaching have been fairly simple: Have some enthusiasm and fun with your subject matter, and pay attention to and care about your students’ problems. Of course we have definite goals for the skills we want to teach, but I have found the surest path to those goals leads through our own wonder and love for the subject material — if we don’t care about it, why should our students? Finally, I would like to thank the wonderful students we have here at UMass — they come from many different backgrounds and have their own, original ways of thinking, and without their interest and hard work, there would be no good teaching.”

Distinguished Teaching Awards

Mark Leckie, Professor, Geosciences

Mark Leckie“What is so special about this recognition is that it comes from our students. I love teaching at all levels. My goals in teaching are to create awareness about Earth’s geological history and how our home planet works. I strive to make connections between our everyday lives and the urgency of global climate change and greater social awareness. I am humbled by the honor of a DTA.”

Shaina Sadai, PhD Candidate, Geosciences

Shaina Sadai“The primary aim of my teaching is for students to consider how we can create a more just world. My freshman seminar is taught within the college of Natural Sciences but I bring in interdisciplinary materials from a wide range of fields, including political science, history, critical studies, and more. This is to situate the climate crisis and the physical changes happening on Earth within the context of human systems of power. The students who have taken my class over the past few years have been some of the most incredible and inspiring people. They see all of these issues around themselves — climate change, systemic inequality and injustice, pollution, biodiversity loss — and they are committed to learning about them and enacting positive change. They inspire me every day. I feel so lucky that I have had this opportunity to learn and grow with them.”

CNS Advising Center Message