Irwin Sizer Award for the Most Significant Improvement to MIT Education

Irwin Sizer Award for the Most Significant Improvement to MIT Education

The Irwin Sizer Award is presented to any member or group in the Institute community to honor significant innovations and improvements to MIT education. The award is named in honor of Irwin W. Sizer, Dean of the Graduate School from 1967-1975.

To nominate, visit the Graduate Student Council website. Please direct any questions to

Irwin Whiting Sizer, a pioneer in molecular biology and champion of the recruitment of women and minority students, taught at MIT for over 60 years. He joined the MIT faculty in 1935 as an instructor in the Department of Biology and was named chair of the department in 1956, a position he held until 1967 when he was appointed dean of the graduate school. Sizer served as dean until 1976, when he returned to the Department of Biology as professor emeritus and instructor. He was instrumental in the development of many programs at MIT, including Whitaker College, the joint Ph.D. in oceanography at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology Program, and the introduction of interdisciplinary master’s degrees. Within the Department of Biology, he played a major role in the evolution of the biology curriculum from a classical program to a modern molecular biology program.

Past Award Recipients


  • Professor Anna Frebel, Physics
  • Professor Neil Gershenfeld, Media Arts and Sciences, and the Center for Bits and Atoms


  • Mohamed Abdelhafez, Physics


  • Professor Jane Dunphy, Global Studies and Languages


  • Professor Gilbert Strang, Mathematics


  • Lee David Perlman and Carole Cafferty, Educational Justice Institute at MIT


  • Dr. Chris Caplice, Dr. Eva Ponce Cueto, and the Supply Chain Management MicroMasters/Blended Master's Program Team


  • Was not awarded


  • Prof. Tom Leighton, Mathematics
  • Dean Michael Sipser, Mathematics


  • Dr. Lee Perlman, MIT Concourse Learning Program


  • Dr. Robert Tong-Ik Shin, Lincoln Laboratory


  • Prof. J. Meejin Yoon, Department of Architecture