Julie Zimmerman Wins 2020 Ackerman Award

Cited for her tireless dedication to her students, Julie Zimmerman, professor of chemical & environmental engineering & forestry & environmental studies, is the winner of this year’s Ackerman Award. 

Her focus on her students is one of the many reasons Zimmerman has been selected to receive the 2020 Ackerman Award for Teaching and Mentoring. Made possible by a generous gift from SEAS alum Robert W. Ackerman '60, this annual award, which includes a $5,000 cash prize, recognizes outstanding teaching and mentoring as evidenced by the faculty member's impact on students. As one of her students put it: "She serves as a guide and a mentor, but ultimately allows her students to do the discovery on their own, a powerful mentoring technique that has benefitted me incredibly in my short time so far at Yale."

Zimmerman, who has been teaching at Yale since 2006, was also recently named editor-in-chief at the journal Environmental Science and Technology. The numerous letters of nomination submitted for Zimmerman described her as a teacher who could identify the individual strengths and interests and encouraged them to build on those. Here are some samples from her nominations from undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows: 

  • "Julie takes the time to know her graduate students and what is important to each of them. Our lab has a diverse mix of aspiring policy makers, undergraduate teachers, industry engineers, and research academics. For each person, Julie will connect them with the right resources to achieve their goal."

  • "Julie cares. She cares more than any other mentor I have ever met. Julie cares about her students and postdocs current and past. Despite being one of the busiest people I know Julie always makes time for her students, supports her student’s interests and goals in research and in life, and offers her support in every way she knows how. I think every person that considers Julie a mentor whether an undergrad, master student, PhD student or post-doc, each feels that Julie is there for them 100%. It is a unique ability for someone to give so much of themselves so frequently to all of their mentees and for each mentee to feel full, but Julie does it, almost flawlessly."

  • "Professor Zimmerman encourages exploration and a connection to real-world problems through her class Green Engineering and Sustainable Design by encouraging students to consult with companies working on very specific problems. All the facts considered, Yale is certainly a better place because of her pioneering work and her devotion to both her classes and students."