Nitin Kohli on the steps of South Hall.

For Nitin Kohli, teaching goes beyond just fulfilling his requirements as a graduate student instructor.

Like many School of Information students, Kohli is a dedicated teacher, while simultaneously pursuing innovative research as a Ph.D. student. His efforts were recently rewarded with the Teaching Effectiveness Award for Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs). This award recognizes the teaching ideas of Outstanding Graduate Student Instructors that are submitted as one-page essays to the Advisory Committee for GSI Affairs. Of numerous submissions for the award, Kohli was one of fourteen GSIs selected.

Kohli began teaching early in his academic career, as a teaching assistant as a UC Berkeley undergraduate for Statistics 2 in the Berkeley Summer Bridge program.

His current Ph.D. research spans the topics of privacy, security, and fairness. Kohli uses game theory and statistical techniques to develop theory and tools to safeguard information. Along with the technical aspects, Kohli also examines legal and policy mechanisms in privacy and security.

“I think it’s great if students get A’s and they learn the material, but frankly, I’ve failed them as an educator if they don’t take the key learnings with them afterward.”

— Nitin Kohli

Prior to pursuing his Ph.D. at the I School, Kohli received his Master of Information and Data Science in 2015 and taught at UC Berkeley as an adjunct instructor and lecturer in the Statistics Department, while also working at a small startup developing algorithms to identify risk in healthcare settings, and Pandora. He also began lecturing at Berkeley in the same introductory statistics course where he first served as a TA, and in an upper division course in mathematical game theory.

“It was nice to come full circle four years later,” Kohli said. “Starting out as a teaching assistant and then lecturing for the same course.”

As many of his students will attest to, he is invested in the learning and success of those he teaches. “He is very knowledgeable about the topic,” one student shared, “and attentive to all the students’ needs.”

 

“I think it’s great if students get A’s and they learn the material, but frankly, I’ve failed them as an educator if they don’t take the key learnings with them afterward,” Kohli said. “At the end of the day, if ten years down the line, when they’re working in practice, and they can’t reason about making these decisions of values in technology, then I’ve failed them.”

For Kohli the award represents more than just one class: “It was great to be acknowledged. I’ve had a commitment to teaching this entire time, teaching for social justice, teaching things to push forward kids who went to schools that didn’t have enough educational experiences in high school. The Teaching Effectiveness Award is a testament to all the time I’ve put in beforehand.

Read the full article on the School of Information website.


Categories: Honors and Awards, July 2019
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