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Pemmaraju earns Collegiate Teaching Award [Updated May 2021]

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College of Liberal Arts and Sciences recognizes Computer Science professor's research-based teaching and mentoring

Updated CLAS recognition:

Sriram Pemmaraju, University of IowaSriram Pemmaraju, professor in the University of Iowa Department of Computer Science, received the 2020 Collegiate Teaching Award from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Pemmaraju, who was his department's director of graduate studies until summer 2020, demonstrates a deep commitment to his students' success. Former students often remark that he served as their role model, as well as their teacher of computer science. He has mentored 10 doctoral candidates through the PhD program, with three more doctoral candidates in progress.

One student who earned their PhD working with Pemmaraju lauded his mentorship.

"Sriram had a huge impact on my life as my teacher and my PhD advisor," the former student said. "His patience, precise communication, and persistence accelerate the learning process and enabled me, and others, to develop a successful career after college. He brings patience as a catalyst for educating. Whether it was discussions on coursework during office hours, or working through research papers, Sriram was always patient. Even when I was frustrated, I felt hopeless in my own abilities, or we were having a difficult time working through something, the environment was always positive and it enabled us to push through difficulties. Ultimately, Sriram taught me a confidence for working in technically complex and challenging areas that I donʼt know I couldʼve learned anywhere else."

Undergraduate students find Pemmaraju equally inspiring.

One said, "This is the best course I have taken in the department. Professor Pemmaraju teaches really well and takes extra time to help the students. I have learned a lot from this course. Homework problems are challenging, which help you improve your thinking process."

Another undergraduate credited Pemmaraju's infectious love for his discipline, and his commitment to his students' success, with changing his academic journey.

"I took Sriram Pemmaraju’s CS1 class in the spring of 2013," the student explained. "At the time, my declared major was environmental science, and I ended up committing to study computer science inspired in part by Professor Pemmaraju’s passion for the field and the individual encouragement I received during and after the course."

Pemmaraju's colleagues respect his expertise, scholarship, and teaching and mentoring skills. Kasturi Varadararan, who joined the Department of Computer Science faculty at the same time as Pemmaraju, said that he has been impressed ever since.

"Taking into account his passion, skill, deep knowledge, effectiveness, ability to inspire, and contributions to curriculum design," Varadararan said, "I cannot think of any candidate more deserving of the Collegiate Teaching Award."

Pemmaraju earned his PhD from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and joined the Department of Computer Science faculty in 2000. He teaches courses to undergraduate and graduate students, and he runs his department's Speakers Bureau, which fosters and sustains connections among computer scientists from the UI and small colleges elsewhere in the state. His research is in theoretical computer science with a focus on Distributed Algorithms, Randomization, Approximation, and Graph Algorithms. In addition, he applies algorithmic ideas to problems in computational epidemiology as part of the university's CDC-funded multidisciplinary Computational Epidemiology Research Group


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Sriram PemmarajuThe College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa has named Professor of Computer Science Sriram Pemmaraju a recipient of the 2019-2020 Collegiate Teaching Award.

Dean Steve Goddard noted Pemmaraju's philosophy of respect for his students' ability to understand complicated concepts.

"Professor Pemmaraju is an outstanding teacher and mentor to our students at all levels," Goddard said. "As an expert in algorithms, his courses require a lot of hard work and theoretical comprehension from his students. Professor Pemmaraju believes in his students' capacity to excel, and because of his innovative teaching, they do. I am delighted that our college is recognizing his talents in service of our students."

In an end-of-course evaluation, an unnamed student said, "This is the best course I have taken in the department. Professor Pemmaraju teaches really well and takes extra time to help the students. I have learned a lot from this course. Homework problems are challenging, which help you improve your thinking process."

Pemmaraju joined the Department of Computer Science faculty in 2000. He teaches courses to undergraduate and graduate students, and has mentored nine doctoral candidates through the PhD program, with three more doctoral in progress. He is his department's Director of Graduate Studies, and runs its Speakers Bureau, which fosters and sustains connections among computer scientists from the UI and small colleges elsewhere in the state. His research interests include Distributed Algorithms, Randomization, Approximation, and Graph Algorithms. In addition, he applies algorithmic ideas to problems in Computational Epidemiology. He earned his PhD from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.


The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa is a comprehensive college offering 73 majors in the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. More than 17,000 undergraduate and 1,900 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by professors at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all UI undergraduates through the General Education Program, and confers about 70 percent of the UI's bachelor's degrees each academic year.

Source: Sriram Pemmaraju, professor of computer science, earns Collegiate Teaching Award | College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (uiowa.edu)