Current OTAA Award Winners

2016-2017 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award Winners



Portrait Adam Smith 2015_tn.jpg   Brandon Brice

Economics, College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

Brandon is always amazed at how positively students respond when you believe in them, and challenge them to think critically.  He is always pushing himself to improve his teaching; and thrives to make his classroom engaging, himself available for his students, and foster critical-thinking in a fun classroom environment.  To him, these are the keys to achieving outstanding learning outcomes.   Brandon is a PhD candidate in economics, and instructs economic development and principles classes as part of his teaching assistantship.  He has won the Charles E. Rockwood Teaching Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher in the Economics Department, the Office of Distance Learning Excellence in Online Teaching Award, the Program for Instructional Excellence Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, and the John F. Liseno Program for Instructional Excellence Graduate Award.  Additionally as a graduate student teacher, he is currently the highest ranked teacher in the history of FSU on  Learning is a passion for Brandon, and he hopes that it plays an important role in his future career after he graduates from FSU.



Sean_tn.jpg   Sean Bartley

School of Theatre, College of Fine Arts

Sean Bartley is a doctoral candidate in FSU’s School of Theatre. He holds a BA in Theatre Arts Management from American University and an MFA in Dramaturgy from the American Repertory Theatre/Moscow Art Theatre School Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University. His research centers on contemporary American site-specific, ambulatory, and immersive theatre practices. At FSU, he’s taught Introduction to Theatre for Non-Majors, Play Analysis, and Dramaturgy. He thanks his terrific students for the nomination and Dr. Mary Karen Dahl, Dr. Patrick McKelvey, Dr. Beth Osborne, and Dr. Samer Al-Saber for their constant guidance and support.



Gentile_headshot_tn.jpg   Haley Gentile

Sociology, College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

Haley Gentile is a fifth year doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at Florida State University, where she earned her BS in Sociology with a minor in Women’s Studies and a MS in Sociology. Her doctoral research examines social movements that mobilize law to promote or resist social change and the lawyers who work on their behalf.  Mirroring her research interests, she specializes in teaching political sociology, social movement studies, sociological theory, and qualitative methodologies. Haley is committed to providing quality and innovative instruction and mentorship to diverse student populations. Haley is a recipient of the 2016-2017 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.


Makhanova_Photo_tn.jpg   Anastasia Makhanova

Psychology, College of Arts & Sciences

Stacey is a doctoral student in Social Psychology. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Hendrix College and her M.S. in Psychology from FSU. Her research focuses on social perception – how people view their close social partners and people who are different than them. Specifically, she is interested in motivational and biological factors that influence these processes. In addition to conducting research, Stacey is passionate about exposing students to research principles and methodologies. She has taught several lab sections for the Research Methods in Psychology course in which she helped students develop and test their own hypotheses. Currently, Stacey is teaching Social Psychology as the instructor of record. In these classes she focuses on not only what we know about people’s social behavior but also how researchers are able to draw these conclusions. Although these classes are generally in the large lecture format, Stacey’s mission is to try to connect with students and make them feel like more than just a number. She was nominated for, and subsequently received, the PIE Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award in 2017.


ASmall_tn.jpg   Seyedahmad Rahimi

Educational Psychology & Learning Systems, College of Education

Seyed Ahmad Rahimi is from Iran. He earned his B.S. in computer software engineering from the Islamic Azad University of Tehran and his first M.S. in e-learning technologies from Malaysia’s Multimedia University in Kuala Lumpur. He is currently a doctoral candidate in FSU’s College of Education where he is majoring in Instructional Systems and Learning Technologies (ISLT). He is also enrolled in the Measurement & Statistics in Education Master’s program in the college of education. Ahmad started teaching from 2009 when he was working as an instructor in a private Malaysian university. When He came to the US, he started teaching Introduction to Educational Technology, one of the College’s core service courses. He believes that “teaching is an act of love” and he loves to stay a teacher as long as he can. He is currently working with Dr. Valerie Shute as one of her Research Assistants on an NSF grant examining learning supports and adaptivity in games. His general research interests include game-based stealth assessment and adaptivity in learning games. Upon completion of his Ph.D., Ahmad will return to Iran where he plans to teach at a university level and assist his country implement educational innovation and reform at all levels.



Professional Photo_tn.jpg   Michael (Blair) Thomas

Public Administration & Policy, College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

Blair Thomas, M.P.A., M.P.H., PhD Candidate is an award-winning instructor at the Gov. Reubin O’D. Askew School of Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University. His research interests include strategic management, marketing and branding, social marketing, and health administration. His most recent academic work, investigated the marketing and branding successes associated with the Affordable Care Act is forthcoming in the Journal of Nonprofit and Public Sector Marketing. 

Blair has contributed work to several non-academic publications as well including Portland: The University of Portland Magazine and others. Prior to pursuing his graduate work, Thomas covered the Oregon health policy landscape as a contributor to local news sources and before that worked in marketing and merchandising in various capacities for Adidas America and official partner, CIP Marketing, from 2007 to 2010.

His graduate education includes a M.P.A. with an emphasis in public financial management from the Askew School, and a M.P.H. with a focus on health management and policy from the Sen. Mark O. Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University. Blair completed his undergraduate work at the University of Portland, graduating with a B.A. in Political Science. He has served on numerous boards and commissions, notably as Secretary of the Oregon Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports from 2010 to 2012.