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Outstanding Teaching Award

The Outstanding Teaching Award (OTA) is intended to recognize the valuable contributions of graduate students to teaching and pedagogy. Graduate student contributions include but are not limited to: UC Merced course development and instruction, as readers, teaching assistants, and lead instructors; participation in pedagogical training and development programs; and developing or delivering materials or instruction at professional workshops and summer schools. The award is intended to recognize a body of teaching and pedagogical contributions during the course of graduate education.

Eligibility Requirements & Standards

  • UC Merced Masters’ and Ph.D. students may apply who are enrolled in 12 graduate units at the time of application.
  • Applicants should be in good academic standing and making normative or better progress towards their degree.
  • Applicants cannot be previous OTA award recipients.

Financial Support

  • Each award recipient receives a fellowship of $1,000.
  • Funds may be used specifically for costs of attendance (i.e. tuition, fees, books and supplies) or for general support (living, transportation, and personal expenses) necessary to support the pursuit of educational and career goals.

Student Loan Impact

  • Per federal guidelines, all fellowship and tuition support is taken into consideration when determining student loan eligibility.  If you will receive federal student loans during the same academic year as this award, please note that this award could, and most likely will, reduce your student loan eligibility.

Application Procedures

  • Graduate students must complete the online application. The online application includes the following:
    • Unofficial UCM Transcript
    • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
    • Statement
    • Letter of Recommendation
    • Additional Documents – Teaching Evaluations (optional)
  • Statements on teaching should be 1-2 pages in length. Each statement should summarize the student’s qualifications in terms of teaching and pedagogy experience as outlined in the Award Description. Evidence of teaching and pedagogical experience, excellence, and dedication should be discussed.
  • One letter of recommendation is required. Letter writers will receive an email request for a letter of support for the applicant, but it is highly recommened that applicants contact recommendors directly as well. Please note that the letter of support will go to the Graduate Division and the Graduate Council, and will not be visible to the applicant. Letters of Recommendation may include but are not limited to the Instructor of Record (if applicable), Faculty Advisor or any others who have direct knowledge of the applicant’s performance. Letters of Recommendation must be submitted by the deadline associated with this award (see the Internal Fellowships page).
  • Applications are provided to the Graduate Council (GC) for review, and GC makes recommendations to the Graduate Division. Review criteria include adherence to fellowship guidelines, and final award decisions are made by the Graduate Dean.


See the Internal Fellowships page for current deadlines associated with this fellowship.

Outstanding Teaching Awardees- 2020-21

Larisa Gavrilova

Psychological Sciences

Hanbo Hong

Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Maryam Khazaei Pool

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Outstanding Teaching Awardees- 2019-20

Maria Ramirez Loyola

Psychological Sciences

Jacqueline Shay

Quantitative & Systems Biology

Yerlan Idelbayev

Electrical Eengineering and Computer Science

Outstanding Teaching Awardees- 2018-19

Anabel Castillo

Psychological Sciences

Jessica Taylor

Applied Mathematics

Arman Zharmagambetov

Electrical Eengineering and Computer Science

Outstanding Teaching Awardees- 2017-18

Alison Huff


Sara Schneider

Cognitive & Information Sciences

Anley Tefera

IGP Biological Engineering & Small-Scale Technologies

Outstanding Teaching Awardees- 2016-17

Danielle Bermudez

Interdisciplinary Humanities

Soheil Fatehiboroujeni

Mechanical Engineering

Anusha Madushani Rajapaksha Wasala 

Applied Mathematics

Outstanding Teaching Awardees - 2015-16

Kathleen Coburn
Psychological Sciences

Stephen Dale
Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Jesse Wilson
Environmental Systems

Outstanding Teaching Awardees - 2014-15

Sarah Abboud
Quantitative & Systems Biology

Nathaniel Bogie
Environmental Systems

Arthur Durazo
Psychological Sciences

Outstanding Teaching Awardees - 2013-14

Reheman Baikejiang

Jane Hyo Jin Lee
Natural Sciences

Marco Valesi
Social Sciences, Humanities and Art

Outstanding Teaching Awardees - 2012-13

Gary Abel
Natural Sciences

Amy Moffat
Social Sciences, Humanities and Art

Christiane Pailo

Outstanding Teaching Awardees - 2011-12

Julie Phillips
Natural Sciences

Michael Eissinger
Social Sciences, Humanities and Art

Bodo Winter
Social Sciences, Humanities and Art


*The Graduate Division reserves the right not to make an award in any given year for which a call for applications has been issued.