Nakhleh recognized with award for superior teaching

The Center for Teaching Excellence recognizes top Rice instructors as determined by alumni votes

Professor Luay Nakhleh teaching Comp 182

Pictured: Professor Luay Nakhleh teaching Comp 182. Photo courtesy of Jeff Fitlow.

Rice University alumni selected Luay Nakhleh for the 2024 George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching, which honors top Rice instructors. Nakhleh is the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of the George R. Brown School of Engineering and Professor of Computer Science and BioSciences. 

The award, given by Rice’s Center for Teaching Excellence, is based upon a survey of students who graduated within the past two to five years. Nine Rice University faculty members received the honor in 2024.

“These teaching awards are special because they’re based on alumni nominations. Receiving such an award tells me I must have made a difference in the life of some students, and that’s all I could ever ask for as a faculty member,” said Nakhleh.

Before passing the baton on to colleagues, Nakhleh's best-known course was always Comp 182, Algorithmic Thinking. In the past, he also taught: the graduate seminar on Computational Biology; Automata, Formal Languages, and Computability; as well as two bioinformatics courses specialized in sequence analysis and network analysis. In addition to teaching and his role as dean, Nakhleh leads the Bioinformatics Group in the computer science department. 

This is Nakhleh’s second time to win the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching, having previously won in 2020. In 2019, he won the university’s most prestigious teaching award, the George R. Brown Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Other teaching awards have included the Teaching + Research Award from Rice’s School of Engineering in 2015 and the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award in 2009. He also won the Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Adviser Award from Engineering in 2018.

In his Message from the Dean, “On the Importance of Undergraduate Teaching,” he shared the following: “While [faculty] each make an individual impact on the world, our collective impact is significantly magnified through our students. Our commitment to undergraduate teaching paves the way for them to make lasting contributions to society.”

Nakhleh joined Rice’s faculty in 2004 and was promoted to full professor in 2016. From 2017 to 2020 he was chair of the Department of Computer Science. He earned his B.S. from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, in 1996, his M.S. from Texas A&M University in 1998, and Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin, in 2004 — all in computer science.

“We live in polarized times where the public trust in the mission of academic institutions is probably at an all-time low. It is especially important in today’s academic climate that the instructor cares about their students and that the students leave the instructor’s course having grown in maturity, both technically and emotionally.”

To see the complete list of 2024 George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching awardees, visit the Rice News website.



Heather Ferreyra, CS Marketing Specialist