McCormick Teacher and Adviser of the Year Named

Mitra Hartmann, associate professor of biomedical and mechanical engineering, was recently named McCormick Teacher of the Year, and Justin Notestein, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, was named McCormick Adviser of the Year.

Students nominated professors for the honor, and winners were chosen by a committee.

“Professor Hartmann is the best teacher I have had in my three years at Northwestern,” said one nomination. “Professor Hartmann is clearly focused on giving her students the greatest possible understanding of the materials, and she communicates concepts effectively and clearly.”  Another student praised Hartmann for her commitment to students. “She is very understanding and truly wants students to learn; I believe she achieves this by putting herself in our shoes … She's great, and I admire her.”

On her award, Hartmann was cited “for her ability to engage individual students in the classroom, even when the enrollment is high.”

Students praised Notestein for his uncommon commitment to students, both personally and professionally.

“He always makes time for his students and I feel that he genuinely cares for the students' overall well-being and strives for their continued growth both as students and young adults,” one nomination said. Another student said Notestein’s commitment to student’s achievement goes beyond his normal duties.

“Last fall, while I was running to Tech, sick and a few minutes late for his final, I received an email from Professor Notestein making sure I was on my way to the final. That email made me feel for the first time that the university noticed me as an individual, rather than just as one of a group of students,” the nomination said.

On his award, Notestein was cited “for his ability to advise with in-depth understanding of each individual.”

Hartmann researches how biomechanics enables efficient movement and active sensing and how the construction of hardware and computer models of animal movement and sensing can provide insights into the underlying organization of the nervous system. Her laboratory uses the rat whisker system as a model to study sensory acquisition and the sensory modulation of rhythmic movement. She received her PhD in integrative neurobiology from the California Institute of Technology and was a postdoctoral scholar at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the Bio-Inspired Technologies and Systems Group before joining the Northwestern faculty in 2003.

Notestein’s research seeks to develop a science of synthesis for functional materials, especially in catalysis and adsorption. Structures are assembled with inspiration from biology and using molecular design rules to give improved functionality under mild conditions and an enhanced ability for predicting and understanding behavior. Current application areas include low-T catalytic selective epoxidation, hydroxylation, and hydroamination using hybrid solids and Earth-abundant metals, reaction and adsorption on photocatalyst surfaces, nanostructured adsorbents for alcohol/water separations for biofuels applications, porous ‘carbons’ by design, and preliminary work on understanding hydrotreating reactions for improved fuels utilization.

Notestein received his BS in chemical engineering from Princeton University in 2001 and his PhD in chemical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in 2006. After a brief post-doctoral stay in the department of chemistry at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, he started as an assistant professor in the department of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern University in 2007.