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Celebrating excellence: 2019 teaching and advising awards

Winter 2019 Teaching and Advising Awards

The College of Science recently celebrated its 2019 Winter Teaching and Advising Awards with faculty, advisors and students to recognize exceptional teaching and advising – key areas of distinction in the College. Effective teaching, advising and mentorship are at the heart of the College of Science’s mission to build leaders in science.

Dean Roy Haggerty delivered opening welcome remarks, Associate Dean Matt Andrews served as the lively emcee, and several science students offered earnest tributes and presented the awards.

“This awards ceremony is our opportunity to recognize teaching and advising excellence and emphasize our College’s dedication to student success,” said Dean Roy Haggerty. “I am proud to celebrate this year’s recipients whose commitment to their students models the College of Science’s highest values.”

Congratulations to all of our award winners and nominees. Their hard work to make science education more meaningful, relevant and effective advances our mission and transforms lives.

2019 Award Winners

Olaf Boedtker Award for Excellence in Academic Advising

Indira Rajagopal receiving award from student and Roy Haggerty
Newly retired senior instructor Indira Rajagopal (center) ands biochemistry and molecular student Lily Sloan (left) with Dean Haggerty (right).

Indira Rajagopal, who retired as senior instructor in biology and biochemistry and biophysics in December, won the Olaf Boedtker Award for the second time in three years for her exceptional and inspirational advising of undergraduate students. The award was presented to Rajagopal by Lily Sloan, a biochemistry and molecular biology junior.

“Indira Rajagopal provided endless support and guidance to her students, and we were lucky to have such a dedicated advisor. My wonderful experience in the biochemistry and biophysics department was significantly impacted by Indira and the amount of effort she put in to help students. Indira brought so much positivity to the department, and I could not think of anyone more deserving of this advising award,” wrote one of her student nominators.

Rajagopal, newly retired as senior instructor in biology and biochemistry and biophysics, has consistently been credited throughout her 30-year tenure at Oregon State for the devotion she brings to her roles as an inspiring mentor, professor and advisor. Her work of encouraging students to pursue meaningful opportunities stems from her passion to help students reach their potential. That same dedication is exemplified by the work Rajagopal has done with her husband Kevin Ahern, recently retired biochemistry and biophysics professor, writing and publishing free electronic textbooks for online learners worldwide.

Nominees: Kevin Ahern, biochemistry and biophysics; Alex Beck, BioHealth sciences; Linda Bruslind, microbiology; Cody Duncan, integrative biology; Henri Jansen, physics; Barbara Kessel, microbiology; Shawn Massoni, BioHealth sciences; Brock McLeod, integrative biology; Jennifer Olarra, integrative biology; Kari Van Zee, biochemistry and biophysics.

Loyd F. Carter Award for Outstanding and Inspirational Teaching (Undergraduate)

Nate Kirk receiving award from two female students and Roy Haggerty
Instructor of biology Nate Kirk (center right) with Dean Haggerty (right) and students Anastasiya Prymolenna (left) and Sonya Bedge (center left).

Instructor of biology Nate Kirk received the Loyd Carter Undergraduate Teaching Award for his effective and inspirational approach to teaching undergraduate biology students. Bioresource research student Sonya Bedge and chemistry student Anastasiya Prymolenna presented the award to Kirk.

“Nate is an incredibly thoughtful, understanding and kind professor, and I feel honored to have had him for the Principles of Biology series. His lectures were engaging, and he facilitated great discussions among peers about the course material. Nate clearly dedicated a lot of time to figuring out how to help his students learn best and gain a deeper understanding of the subject as a whole,” wrote one of his nominators.

Kirk, who teaches Honors and non-Honors Principles of Biology Series in the College, believes students learn best from each other and from practical experience, so he limits his direct lecture time in favor of directed learning. Combining lectures with hands-on experiences, he leads students to make their own discoveries and experience the thrill of science. Kirk was also honored as 2016 Honors College Professor of the Year.

Nominees: Nathan Kirk, integrative biology; Phillip McFadden, biochemistry and biophysics; Richard Nafshun, chemistry; Ryan Mehl, biochemistry and biophysics; Daniel Myles, chemistry; Chris Orum, mathematics; Devon Quick, integrative biology; Indira Rajagopal, biochemistry and biophysics; Lyn Riverstone, mathematics; Daniel Rockwell, mathematics; KC Walsh, physics; David Wing, mathematics.

Loyd F. Carter Award for Outstanding and Inspirational Teaching (Graduate)

Assistant professor of chemistry Sandra Loesgen received the Loyd Carter award for her outstanding and inspirational teaching of graduate students. She mentors and teaches graduate students to a variety of state-of-the-art techniques to identify and develop drug leads to cancer treatment.

“Dr. Loesgen’s enthusiasm for the topics she teaches are contagious. When you are in her classes, you are truly immersed in the subject. This means you are learning to become a true chemist in interpreting NMR spectra and understanding how organisms make their natural products. As she teaches these subjects, she wants you to understand rather than memorize,” wrote one of her students. “She is energetic, and her passion for the topics exudes as she delivers each lecture.”

Loesgen leads a highly motivated team of graduate students from diverse backgrounds, including pharmaceutical sciences, chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, and microbiology. In the Loesgen Lab, she guides student researchers as they explore target-based drug discovery with a focus on new anticancer, antimicrobial and antiviral compounds from microbial sources. She and her students discovered a soil-dwelling bacterium whose molecules destroy melanoma cells.

Nominees: Sally Hacker, integrative biology; David Hendrix, biochemistry and biophysics; Sandra Loesgen, chemistry; and Oksana Ostroverkhova, physics

Frederick H. Horne Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching Science

Marita Barth, senior instructor of chemistry, won the Frederick H. Horne Award for her exceptional qualities as a teacher and a mentor. Barth, who focuses on distance chemistry education, has distinguished herself as an educator who bolsters the confidence and success of undergraduate students.

“Marita creates a really positive environment, and many students draw a contrast with their experiences at other institutions, telling us that they felt more comfortable, more supported and engaged with OSU Ecampus. Even at a distance, Marita has been able to convey an enthusiasm and passion for chemistry that sparks student interest – and remember that she is working with a student population that is more likely to come to us fearful of, or reluctant to, study this subject,” said Michael Lerner, chair of the Department of Chemistry.

“Marita has been able to convey an enthusiasm and passion for chemistry that sparks student interest.” – Michael Lerner

Barth leads her department’s general chemistry for non-majors courses at Ecampus, which are OSU’s largest online classes with ever-increasing enrollments – 430 students are currently enrolled in the sequence. She has continuously redeveloped and improved courses by producing videos and interactive materials that are now used by other faculty in the Department of Chemistry.

The awards ceremony also included a special presentation by participants of the Faculty-Student Mentor Program who shared their inspiring experiences. Led by Dean Haggerty, this new program aims to enhance student engagement in learning and improve retention and graduation rates. At its foundation are relationships built between faculty mentors and students. Mentors focus primarily on helping students – many of whom are first-generation college students – transition and adjust to college life. Based on the program’s success, OSU plans to expand the program across the entire university.

Photos from the College of Science Teaching and Advising Awards, February 21, 2019.