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Honors Tutorial College

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Soichi Tanda

Alisa Warren | Oct 21, 2015
Dr. Soichi Tanda, DOS of biological studies, lectures his senior biology class in Grover Hall.
Dr. Soichi Tanda, DOS of biological studies, lectures his senior biology class in Grover Hall.

The prestige of being named a University Professor may be the highlight of some teachers’ careers, but it is far from Dr. Soichi Tanda’s.

Tanda, who is serving his eleventh year as an Honors Tutorial College Director of Studies for biological sciences, was named to the exclusive list of professors for the 2015-2016 school year after nominations from the student body for his teaching excellence.

The smiles on his students’ faces is the most rewarding part of his work, Tanda said, grinning himself.

“When they put a lot of work into their studies, as I get to help them along the way to reach their goal, and they feel like they having something out of that, that kind of response is the best part of my teaching,” he said.

A native of Japan, Tanda noted that one of his favorite moments in teaching comes from a time when he was still adjusting to the differences in American culture from his homeland. He explained that in Japan, the professor-student relationship is very formal, as the two exchange handshakes and bows, with hugs being a rarity.

During his first year as DOS, he said as the students gradually warmed up to him throughout the year, they gave him a very warm hug at the end, appreciating his work as their professor.

“That made my day and really energized me,” he said. “I thought ‘this is a job I really like to do,’ and it’s really changed my concept or attitude toward advising students.”

Tanda explained that his approach toward educating his students is making his passion for biology contagious, with an attempt to trigger an intrinsic interest in their work. He enjoys challenging his students to see the beauty in biology and the operation of living creatures rather than being bogged down by the act of tedious memorization.

“Without knowing how remarkable we are, we just cannot go through some very challenging classes in biology,” Tanda said. “I’m not spreading viruses or anything like that. I like to see them looking into my heart, what I see as biology.”

As his favorite part of teaching is watching his students’ satisfaction in their own work, after their graduation, Tanda wants to see them take away a firm belief in themselves along with a strong sense of identity, as with that comes an ability to take charge of their career goals.

“With that belief in themselves, I believe everything will become possible,” he said.

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