2006 Metcalf Cup & Prize

Abdulmaged M. Traish, MED

abdulmaged-traishAt the cellular level, information is electric. For an impulse to pass down a neural network, each nerve cell has to swing from a positive to a negative charge. Neurotransmitters then jump between synapses, delivering a jolt to receptors in the next cell of a neural chain. Imagine this spark passing through millions of cells and you begin to grasp the complexity of an act as simple as the snap of a finger.

Now imagine the sparks that flicker through a lecture hall as Professor Traish teaches a class at our medical school. Every sentence is calibrated to reach across the wide array of students before him — medical students, graduate students of biochemistry, advanced undergraduates from the Charles River Campus, and students of dentistry. As Professor Traish pauses to let students ask questions of each other, thoughts are exchanged across academic disciplines in lively give-and-take. It is no surprise that students have named Professor Traish “The Electric Slide.”

As author of 138 peer-reviewed papers and recipient of $3 million in peer-reviewed grants, Professor Traish could justify his academic career by research alone. He knows, however, that teaching and research are complementary and mutually supportive. “The thrill to communicate scientific progress to the classroom,” Professor Traish has written, “is the propeller that drives my teaching.” Whether organizing open houses to recruit prospective graduate students or holding informal weekend meetings or encouraging cross-registration in the life sciences, Professor Traish always puts instruction and mentoring at the center of his work.

Students respond enthusiastically to what one calls Professor Traish’s “joyful wit, high energy, humor, and respect.” Another student describes a class with Professor Traish as ‘an experience in science, an experience in learning, and an experience in discovery.” The challenges Professor Traish poses appear to be as important as his enthusiasm for achievement. “What really sets Dr. Traish apart as a teacher,” another student writes, “is not the way in which he sets a high mark for his students, but instead…the way he gets behind his students and pushes them to reach the mark.”

For enlivening the life sciences with an enthusiasm that leaps from mind to mind, Boston University proudly presents Professor Abdulmaged M. Traish with the 2006 Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence in Teaching.