Bioengineering Assistant Professor Paul Jensen receives Stanley H. Pierce Faculty Award


Huan Song

Paul Jensen, assistant professor of Bioengineering has received the 2020 Stanley H. Pierce Faculty Award in recognition for his dedication to students.  

The student-run Engineering Council selects one undergraduate student and one faculty member across the Grainger College of Engineering annually for his or her efforts to develop empathetic student-faculty cooperation.

Stanley H. Pierce served as a former associate dean at the College of Engineering. He was an inspiring leader in the constant endeavor for better relations between faculty and students. Pierce gained the admiration and respect of the students because of his sincere concern for them as individuals and as a group. He was genuinely interested in their problems and achievements, both academic and personal, and established a rapport with them. In memory of this exemplary spirit, the Stanley H. Pierce Award was established by the late W. L. Everitt. 

For Jensen, receiving this recognition has a special meaning. "Many times, the faculty are recognized for our research, but this is a student nominated award that celebrates empathy," he said. 

Through his classes and interactions with students, Jensen tries to show students that it is ok to fail at something and try again. He openly shares his own failures and how he overcame them throughout his academic career.  

For example, although Jensen currently teaches BIOE 210 Linear Algebra for Biomedical Data Science, the concepts did not always come easily to him and he received a “B” in his first linear algebra class. During his lectures, Jensen would work through problem sets with students without using notes or preparing answers in advance. This way, his students can get more involved in the problem-solving process and watch him troubleshoot along the way. 

Benjamin David, a former undergraduate research assistant in Jensen's lab commented, "he's offered me a lot of opportunities and advice. He's been a great mentor for me and a big reason I wanted to stay at Illinois for grad school."  David will be working in the Jensen lab as a graduate student this fall. 

Jensen urges students to grow past their comfort zones in the classroom and in the lab. “Everyone struggles with something, but people rarely talk about it,” he says. “It’s easy to feel like everyone else is doing better than you are.” His door is always open for anyone who might stumble along the way.