Dan Knights Earns 2023 Charles E. Bowers Faculty Teaching Award

“It’s quite an honor,” Knights said. “I feel grateful for the opportunity to be a teacher. I’m grateful to the Department for nominating me. There are so many teachers that deserve to be recognized and I’m humbled to have gotten this recognition. There is a long list of teachers in the computer science department that put a lot of effort and time into teaching, and I’m lucky to learn from such a wonderful group.”

Knights earned the award in part for his teaching efforts in CSCI 5481: Computational Techniques for Genomics. He is the fifth computer science and engineering faculty member to earn the award, joining Daniel Keefe (2021), Stephen Guy (2018), Eric Van Wyk (2017), and Wei-Chung Hsu (2007).

“In my course, there are people coming from a computational background and people coming from a biology background. That requires a bit of extra effort and forethought to design the class so people get the extra support they need, and to help everyone bring interdisciplinary perspectives into problem solving. It is one of the most enjoyable parts of the class because I get to see students working together across disciplines and having fun doing research in a collaborative way.”

Knights is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering. He is the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Computational Biology in the College of Biological Sciences. Additionally, Knights was the CEO and co-founder of CoreBiome, Inc. from 2017-2020. Much of his research has focused on using computational genomics to study the role of the microbiome in industrialization and human health. Knights also created a series of educational YouTube videos on bioinformatics, linear algebra, group theory, and Rubik’s cube that have been viewed over 1 million times in 100 different countries. 

“Teaching is something I have always been inclined towards one way or another. I actually was a public high school math teacher before I went to get my Ph.D. It gave me good practice making material engaging for people with a wide range of backgrounds and skill sets. I think it comes down to the joy of learning and being able to share that experience with others. I want to pass along that joy and create situations where students get to experience their own process of discovery.” 

The complete list of previous Charles E. Bowers Faculty Teaching Award winners can be found on the CSE website.