Previous Recipients

2015

Allan Brandt is the Amalie Moses Kass Professor of the History of Medicine and Professor of the History of Science. His students wrote eloquently of his “unending kindness,” “his modesty, depth of knowledge, sharpness of thought, and intellectual generosity.” Professor Brandt is noteworthy for the breadth of his engagement. “He believes that it is the duty of scholars to challenge ourselves to engage with many different kinds of people, perspectives, and debates – a value that has given purpose and meaning to my graduate career.” For one student in need of a dissertation topic, “Allan was supportive no matter what topic I proposed, whether 19th century women healers, attitudes toward death, or collegiate women’s sports. Allan immediately brainstormed secondary literature, sources to explore, and batted around ideas for these topics with incredible range.” For another student, “I don’t think I would have ever been able to take my project seriously if it hadn’t been for Allan’s truly generous, yet no less incisive intellect.” “His dedication to knowledge and his concern with the ethical and political implications of his own work are both admirable and contagious.”

Emma Dench is Professor of the Classics and of History. Showing “qualities that are rare to find in entire departments in aggregate, never mind an individual,” she “combines her brilliance as a scholar with…intellectual generosity, academic courage, and personal affability.”  In one student’s words, “Emma can toggle comfortably between having a warm personal conversation and giving piercing feedback on a piece of writing.” Despite “piercing feedback,” she “always guides me by listening to my goals, rather than imposing her own. She takes my path as the starting point and then offers to help me get where I want to go.” Her “openness to engaging with me seriously as a scholar,” her “willingness to advsie an intractable topic and help me to push boundaries,” has “almost single-handedly kept me enrolled at Harvard and on track to finish in time.”

Ousmane Kane is Prince Alalweed bin Talal Professor of Contemporary Islamic Religion and Society and Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. His students emphasized both his personal supportiveness and his community leadership. “Professor Kane is the type of mentor who makes you feel like your work matters,” one who “approaches all of his advisees, from undergraduates to doctoral students…as future colleagues from whom he can learn.” One student wrote of his “seemingly unshakeable faith in my potential as a scholar,” noting that “every single time I didn’t get an interview or fellowship, Professor Kane would send me a note to reassure me that my work was excellent and that something better was on the horizon.” One student writes, “He is especially inspirational for those of us who come from immigrant African and Muslim families, as he is a rare example of someone from our backgrounds who has thrived in the highest levels of academia without compromising or hiding his identity or culture.” Outside the classroom, Professor Kane “works hard to build a strong sense of community amongst his advisees and colleagues,” frequently hosting meals at his house. “These occasions are a rare opportunity for students to have more relaxed and informal conversations with other faculty and peers.” He “makes a point of introducing us to one another, building a sense of community across departments and graduate schools.”

Arthur Patton-Hock is the Associate Director of the Charles Warren Center in American History and the Program Administrator in American Studies. Students across the American Studies program wrote passionately of his importance to their careers. Wrote one student, “Arthur does not simply point us in the right direction; he also picks up the phone or sends that email that…begins an important relationship.” As another put it, “He has been the single most constant and reliable part of my graduate education at Harvard.” For many, “Arthur is without a doubt the lifeblood of our program…I cannot think of a better guide for beginning a half-decade-long journey in an unfamiliar place.” From his “fathomless well of energy and dedication” to his “easy laughter, authentic compassion, and fearless approach to life,” Arthur sets an example “for how to live, and live well, even as a professional in an enormous institution.”

Sharad Ramanathan is Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics. He stands out for his “fearlessness,” his openness to failure and his encouragement of new directions. Wrote one student, “I am still amazed by my brave choice to switch fields entirely. Luckily, with Sharad’s endless encouragement and support, the process seemed natural and effortless.” Indeed, “Sharad always believes that you are better than what you think and that you should not be limited by the background you come from.” For this reason, “Sharad treats his students as intellectual peers, listening to the ideas of first year graduate students, debating with them—forcing them to defend their terrain. As a second year graduate student, Sharad let me begin a project on…a model system that the lab had never worked on and that was considered risky. He always had confidence that the work would succeed in the end. This work now forms the basis for my scientific career.” Indeed, “This mindset is the underlying glue that holds our intensely eclectic lab together and allows biologists and mathematicians to work side by side and learn from one another.”

Ajantha Subramanian is Professor of Anthropology in the Social Anthropology program, specializing in political anthropology and modern South Asia. For more than one student, “Ajantha Subramanian’s arrival in the department absolutely changed the way I experienced the graduate program.” As an advisor, “Ajantha managed the impossible…I would leave conversations with her excited to continue writing.” She “has guided my intellectual development [and] provided me with a model of politically engaged scholarship.” Above all, she “genuinely engages with graduate students as colleagues in academia.” Her classrooms are “good-naturedly contentious,” with “conversations and debates [that] would continue beyond class every week” Several students wrote of her role in departmental working groups, “a genuine manifestation of her inspiring approach to academic production as a process of collective intellectual engagement.” In addition to “an exemplary mentor-advisee relationship,” Professor Subramanian “has built many of the communities that sustained me intellectually in graduate school and after.”

Tomiko Yoda is the Takashima Professor of Japanese Humanities. Her keen, genuine interest in her students’ work gives her “the vanishingly rare quality of being both respected and liked by everyone in the field.” In one student’s words, “I do not think I have had another teacher with whom discussions are always so stimulating and helpful…She has a real knack for listening and responding thoughtfully to students’ ideas and concerns…to draw out ideas that were implicitly there, and help to give those ideas order and larger significance.” “How many people can honestly say that they look forward to meetings with their advisor?” And yet, “Whenever I have a meeting with her, she makes me excited at how important my study is so that I cannot help but push myself further.” She can offer this excitement because “she takes the time to familiarize herself with her students’ topics of interests—in other words, she really takes her students seriously as intellectual equals.”

“To conclude with an anecdote: “Before I arrived at grad school four years ago, someone asked me what my ideal advisor would be like. ‘I'd like them to be like Tim Gunn from Project Runway,’ I said. ‘He's benevolent and gives the contestants guidance and great advice, but will never step in and tell them exactly what to do—he respects them and lets them go on their own path.’ Later that year, I was accepted to Harvard's Ph.D. program in Japanese literature to work with Tomiko Yoda, as her first advisee. The first time I met her in her office, she asked me if I had seen Project Runway. ‘I like to think of my advising style as Tim Gunn…’”

2014

Ann Blair
Henry Charles Lea Professor of History

Arthur Kleinman
Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor in the Department of Anthropology; Professor of Medical Anthropology in Global Health and Social Medicine; and Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School

Anne Monius
Professor of South Asian Religions at Harvard Divinity School

Alex Schier
Leo Erikson Life Sciences Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Kay Kaufman Shelemay
G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music and Professor of African and African American Studies and Ethnomusicology

Dan Smail
Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of History

2013

William Julius Wilson
Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Department of Sociology & Harvard Kennedy School

David Mooney
Robert P. Pinkas Family Professor of Bioengineering, School of Engineeering & Applied Sciences & FAS

Katharine Park
Samuel Zemurray, Jr. and Doris Zemurray Stone Radcliffe Professor of the History of Science

Patricia D’Amore
Professor of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School

Jacob Olupona
Professor of African and African American Studies and Professor of African Religious Traditions, Department of African & African American Studies / Committee on the Study of Religion / Harvard Divinity School

2012

Amanda Claybaugh, English
Angela DePace, Systems Biology
Arthur Spirling, Government
Carol Oja, Music and American Civilization

2011

Gary King, Government
Joanna Nizynska, Slavic Languages and Literatures
Anne Pringle, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Christopher Winship, Sociology

2010

Alán Aspuru-Guzik, Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Norman Daniels, Harvard School of Public Health
Farish Jenkins, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Michele Lamont, Sociology
Elaine Scarry, English

2009

Daniel Lieberman, Anthropology
Joseph Newhouse, Health Policy
Jocelyn Viterna, Sociology

2008

Svetlana Boym, Slavic Languages and Literatures & Comparative Literature
Philip A. Kuhn, History and East Asian Languages and Civilizations
Thomas McGuire, Health Policy
Lucien-Castaing Taylor, Anthropology and Visual and Environmental Studies
Daniel M. Wegner, Psychology

2007

Jennifer Hochschild, Government
Robert Blendon, Health Policy
Raghu Kalluri, Biological and Biomedical Sciences

2006

Sue Goldie, Health Policy
Jo Ann Hackett, NELC
Werner Sollors, English and American Lit and Language
Doris Sommer, Romance Languages

2005

Edward Glaeser, Economics
Stephen B. Soumerai, DACP & Health Policy
John Stauffer, English & History of American Civilization

2004

Julie Buckler, Slavic Languages and Literatures
James DeCaprio, Virology
Thomas Forrest Kelly, Music

2003

Max H. Bazerman, Harvard Business School
Ann Wierda Rowland, English and American Literature and Language
Joan Ruderman, Harvard Medical School

2002

Joan S. Brugge, Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School
Gonzalo Giribet, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Museum of Comparative Zoology
J. Richard Hackman, Psychology
Christopher Jencks,Social Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government
Michael J. Puett, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations

2001

Luis Fernández-Cifuentes, Romance Languages and Literatures
Amy C. Edmondson, Organizational Behavior, Harvard Business School
David R. Reichman, Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Daniel J. Simons, Psychology
Aage B. Sørensen, Sociology (awarded posthumously)

2000

Nalini Ambady, Psychology
N. Michelle Holbrook, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Jesse Matz, English and American Literature and Language
Katherine Newman, Urban Studies, John F. Kennedy School of Government
Kathleen Valley, Organizational Behavior, Harvard Business School

1999

David M. Cutler, Economics
Charles Hallisey,Committee on the Study of Religion and the Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies
Joseph D. Harris, Mathematics
Eric J. Heller, Chemistry and Physics
Lawrence F. Katz, Economics
Thomas A. McMahon, Applied Mechanics and Biology (awarded posthumously)
James R. Rice, Engineering Sciences and Geophysics
William Mills Todd III, Slavic Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, History