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Bramson honored for Outstanding Teaching


Eyes glittering with excitement, Dr. Ali Bramson, assistant professor in Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University, explains how radar can be used to analyze a planet’s surface and what that could mean for the next mission to Mars.

It’s easy to see why her students find her classes so engaging and why she was chosen as the College of Science Faculty Awardee for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Teaching by an Assistant Professor.

This award was created in 1996 to recognize an assistant professor who has combined outstanding teaching with research excellence.

Dr. Daniel Cziczo, Head of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences had this to say, “Dr. Bramson is one of our most outstanding faculty members in both her research and teaching. She is working on topics that will enable human exploration of the solar system and brings the same enthusiasm to her teaching that she does to her research. We are very thankful to see Dr. Bramson’s hard work in teaching awarded!”

Bramson’s research focuses on the physical processes that affect surfaces of planets in our solar system. Using satellite data, including radar, to analyze the surface layers, she strives to better understand what shapes those surfaces and how different environments affect them.  In practical application, this could ensure the success of future missions as they land on and explore new areas. This includes helping find water for future astronauts.

Bramson teaches a couple different undergraduate classes, including one for students specifically majoring in geology, geophysics, and planetary science and another at the 100-level that provides general education for a broad population of Purdue students across all majors. She loves teaching each group for different reasons. Connecting with students is all about authenticity, “I’ve learned to not hold back my personality because I can connect in a more genuine way with students” says Bramson. “I try to use my own experiences to make lectures more personal. My goal is always to make the information feel accessible for everyone.”

Sara Cuevas-Quiñones, an undergraduate student, says “I think what makes Dr. Bramson an amazing professor is that her class is a space of mutual learning where there is a constant exchange of knowledge between the students and the professor. We got to learn about different surface processes in a fun way and in a classroom that felt inclusive and safe.”

“She is the most patient and supportive human being”, says Santa Lucia Perez Cortes, a PhD student of Bramson’s. “She always makes sure that I feel confident about myself and about the research that we are doing. She motivates students all the time and shares her appreciation for us. One of my biggest goals during graduate school is to learn how to be a little bit more like her as a scientist and as a person.”

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