Gustie of the Week: Melissa Lynn

Emma KelseyStaff Writer

Melissa Lynn is a professor in Math, Comp Sci, and Statistics here at Gustavus, and this week, she is also the Gustie of the Week! Lynn has taught for four years at Gustavus, moving back here after graduate school in Los Angeles. She held a postdoctoral position at the University of Minnesota before coming to Gustavus. 

“I really enjoyed talking with the students and faculty, and I could really feel the sense of community. It felt like exactly what I had been looking for in my career. When I was driving away from campus after the interview, I didn’t want to leave – that says a lot, given how stressful interviews can be!” Lynn said.

Lynn shares that there are many things she likes about teaching here on The Hill. Through her time here, she’s watched students grow through their college experience and has even seen some of her students, who had her first semester here, graduate this year with Computer Science degrees. 

“The students here put great effort into learning… I’m so proud of the work they’ve done, and I’m so excited to see what they’ll do in the future! The students here also have such a wonderful variety of interests, whether it’s sports, music, or other extra-curricular activities, they are very involved and excited to challenge themselves,” Lynn said.

Lynn also shares that she appreciates the variety of courses that students are able to take as they earn a liberal arts degree, and she loves that the students share her enthusiasm for having a multidimensional education and learning about a variety of topics.

Lynn finds great joy in teaching here at Gustavus and has a clear commitment to finding the best mode of teaching her students. 

“There’s such a wonderful variety of ways to think about a problem and understand it. It’s an exciting challenge to think about what works best for each student, and students are always coming up with new and creative ideas! It’s wonderful to see those ‘aha!’ moments where a student understands something they’ve been struggling with, and that makes teaching endlessly rewarding,” Lynn said.

Senior Abigail Doran has been in classes with Professor Lynn since her first year and has worked with her as a tutor and grader for various courses. Lynn is also Doran’s advisor for her computer science major.

“Professor Lynn has always been so supportive of me – encouraging me to live into all my different interests and abilities. As a professor, she pushes students to interact with the course material in new ways by promoting interdisciplinary discourse. She creates an environment that inspires holistic learning and growth,” Doran said. 

Doran states that Professor Lynn is a vital role model in the MCS department here at Gustavus. According to Doran, she brought a new perspective to computer science classes that connects their learning to larger concepts and real-world issues.

“She has helped to broaden the perspectives of students through her teaching and advising. She leads with patience and compassion and reminds her students about the importance of having grace for oneself and others,” Doran said.

Senior Santiago Zapata has also taken many computer science courses with Professor Lynn and is one of her other advisees. He shares similar sentiments regarding Lynn’s effective teaching style and charismatic approach.

“Professor Lynn has been an exceptional professor for my computer science class. Her lectures are engaging, and she presents relevant and interesting applications of computer science that make the subject matter more interesting. She takes time and is always willing to provide extra help when needed. It is clear that she cares deeply about her students’ success and works hard to create a welcoming and inclusive learning environment,” Zapata said.

Zapata says that Lynn’s passion for computer science is contagious and has inspired several students to pursue careers in the field.

“She goes above and beyond to provide a quality learning experience and is always available to help students navigate difficult concepts or solve challenging problems. Her contributions to the Gustavus Adolphus College community have been invaluable, and she embodies the ideals of excellence and leadership that the Gustie of the Week represents,” Zapata said.

Senior Josephine Bierbaum also spoke about the incredible work and dedication of Professor Lynn here at Gustavus. Lynn is Bierbaum’s advisor, and she has taken a few classes with her. They also presented their work on a dataset analysis at the Mining Actionable Insights from Social Networks (MAISoN 2022) workshop, a virtual conference held last April.

Bierbaum credits Lynn with making exciting new topics like machine learning and data science accessible to Gustavus students by bringing a lot of knowledge on these topics to campus and teaching courses on these subjects.

“Professor Lynn is an incredibly hard-working person and is involved in a lot, but she is so patient… She is always kind and very generous with her time when her help is needed,” Bierbaum said.

“I think a lot of students would agree that despite how busy she is, she’s one of those professors who you can always count on to make time for you with a smile when you need her help,” Bierbaum said.