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Celebrating teaching and advising excellence

By Cari Longman

The College of Science celebrated its 2020 Winter Teaching and Advising Awards with faculty, advisors and students on February 13 to recognize exceptional teaching and advising, both areas of distinction in the College. Committed and effective teaching, advising and mentorship are at the very heart of the College of Science’s identity as a robust and thriving community of students and scholars.

The awards ceremony included an engaging presentation by the Learning Assistants program, which puts high-achieving undergraduate assistants in large enrollment, often first-and second-year STEM classrooms to facilitate and strengthen undergraduate learning. Over the past five years, the LA program in the College of Science has reduced the drop-fail-withdrawal (DFW) rate in several key courses by half, and has now become a model for other colleges in the university. 

“Our faculty are not only leaders here at OSU, but also across the nation and around the world.  We celebrate our award recipients today for the incredible difference they have made in students’ lives,” said Dean Roy Haggerty, emcee for the ceremony, in his opening remarks. 

Dean Haggerty recognized two faculty members at the beginning of the ceremony. Virginia Weis, Head of the Department of Integrative Biology and OSU Distinguished Professor, was named the new Dr. Russ and Dolores Gorman Faculty Scholar. The three-year rotating award recognizes faculty who bring distinction to the College of Science, connect with industry, and have a strong record of innovative research with practical impact. He also announced Elisar Barbar as the new head of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics and thanked Andy Karplus for his service as department head from 2007 to 2011, and then again from 2015 to January 2020. 

Congratulations to all the nominees and especially to the award winners. The award recipients exemplify deep commitment, skill and effectiveness in mentoring and advising to ensure student learning and success within and beyond the classroom. 

Virginia Wes receiving an award from Dean Haggerty
Dean Haggerty (left) with Distinguished Professor of Biology Virginia Weis (right), who received the Dr. Russ and Dolores Gorman Faculty Scholar award

2020 Award Winners

Olaf Boedtker Award for Excellence in Academic Advising

Alex Beck, BioHealth Sciences advisor won the Olaf Boedtker Award for her tireless support, efforts and advocacy on behalf of undergraduate students. The award, which encourages and recognizes exceptional and inspirational advising of undergraduates, was presented by Jayden Rummell, a biohealth sciences student.

“Alex is a phenomenal advisor, confidant and friend. She has helped me in a way that no other advisor has,” said Rummell. “She always makes time to meet with me, even when I don’t have an appointment and I just drop by for a quick chat. She is by far the most motivating person I have in my life,” she added.

Another student nominator had similar praises for Beck: “Whenever I have doubts about my classes, degree or career path, she is there to reassure me that I am on the right track and that I am capable. Never have I met someone so patient and kind, but also so genuine. After getting to know her as not only an advisor, but as a person, I wholeheartedly believe that Alex is the most deserving of this award.”

Other nominees for the Olaf Boedtker award included: Adel Faridani, mathematics; Allison Evans, microbiology; Bo Sun, physics; Christine Pastorek, chemistry; Corinne Manogue, physics; David Lazzati, physics; Shawn Massoni, biohealth sciences; Enrique Thomann, mathematics; Janet Tate, physics; Jen Olarra, biology; Kari van Zee, biochemistry & biophysics; Linda Bruslind, microbiology; Margie Haak, chemistry; Mas Subramanian, chemistry ;Neal Sleszynski, chemistry; David McIntyre, physics; and Paul Blakemore, chemistry.

Biohealth sciences advisor Alex Beck posing with award with biohealth sciences student Jayden Rummell (left) and Dean Haggerty (right)
Biohealth sciences advisor Alex Beck (center) with biohealth sciences student Jayden Rummell (left) and Dean Haggerty (right) 

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

Senior Instructor Devon Quick in the Department of Integrative Biology and Learning Assistants Program co-founder won this year’s Loyd F. Carter Award for her excellent teaching of biology, human anatomy and physiology courses.

Arisa Larmay, a microbiology undergraduate, presented Quick with her award. “She incorporates many learning styles and makes the course and content engaging and interesting,” Larmay said, adding, “She makes her students feel welcome and is always enthusiastic about the course.”

Other student nominators had similar praises for Quick:

  • “She has an excellent ability to get students thinking deeper about a subject and helps students formulate knowledge in a logical manner.”
  • “Devon goes above and beyond to ensure that students have an appropriate understanding and appreciation for class concepts. She really puts her heart and soul into class and it shows.”
  • “She wants each and every one of her students to succeed and actually cares that we’re learning the material.”
  • “She always helps us connect intersections between the hard science we are learning with its social and public health applications, without fail. She is incredibly thorough and plants seeds in our minds of how to be not just knowledgeable, but culturally and emotionally sensitive health care professionals.”

Congratulations, Devon! Thank you for your dedication and hard work to prepare our future science leaders and health care professionals.

38 faculty members were nominated for this award. Other nominees with multiple nominations include Adel Faridani, mathematics; Kevin Gable, chemistry; Nathan Kirk, biology; Malcolm Lowry, microbiology; Ethan Minot, physics; Daniel Myles, chemistry; Richard Nafshun, chemistry; Vincent Remcho, chemistry; Daniel Rockwell, mathematics; Holly Swisher, mathematics; Rebecca Terry, biology; and KC Walsh, physics.

Devon Quick poses with award with microbiology student Arisa Larmay (left) and Dean Haggerty (right)
Biology instructor Devon Quick (center) with microbiology student Arisa Larmay (left) and Dean Haggerty (right)

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

Assistant Professor of statistics Katherine McLaughlin received the Loyd Carter award for her inspirational and superb mentorship and teaching of graduate students. Statistics Department Head Lisa Ganio presented the award.

“Dr. McLaughlin is dedicated to teaching. She works hard to help her students understand course material and challenges them to think more deeply about problems. Her classroom is a welcoming environment to all,” wrote one student nominator.

“Her enthusiasm for the material is contagious and the thought and care that she puts into structuring her student's learning has far surpassed any other course I've taken,” wrote another nominator.

David Ji and Claudia Maier, both from the Department of Chemistry, also received multiple nominations for this award.

Katherine McLaughlin poses with award with Lisa Ganio and Dean Haggerty
Statistics Assistant Professor Katherine McLaughlin (center) with Statistics Department Head Lisa Ganio (left) and Dean Haggerty (right)

Frederick H. Horne Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching Science

Lesley Blair won the Frederick H. Horne Award for her exceptional qualities as a teacher and mentor. Blair was hired by Dean Fred Horne as a full-time biology instructor in 2002. She primarily serves as the course coordinator and sole lecturer for the high enrollment – up to 800 students per quarter! – non-majors biology year-long series (BI 101 – 103). These are the Baccalaureate Core courses that the majority of non-life sciences students at OSU take to fulfill their science requirements. Blair has since transformed this course by aligning the content to best engage her students and make science relevant to their lives, inspiring them to be lifelong learners. She has also become the model for incorporating cutting-edge tools, technologies and approaches to learning for large format classes, teaching-in-the-round pedagogies developed for LiNC 100, OSU’s state-of-the-art Learning Innovation Center which houses 600-seat arena classrooms for large-format lecture science courses.

Lesley Blair poses with her award against wooden wall with Bob Mason and Roy Haggerty
Biology instructor Lesley Blair (center) with Biology Professor Bob Mason (left) and Dean Haggerty (right)

As part of her efforts to engage more students and the general public in science, Blair co-developed a website called Vivid Science, which links art and design with science teaching to build science literacy and break down barriers between the public and scientists. “Dr. Blair’s creative and tireless drive to innovate, improve and reach out to non-scientists is truly exceptional,” said Bob Mason, distinguished professor of biology, who presented the award. "She truly is helping to make all of our students scientifically literate and able to participate as knowledgeable and informed citizens. This is the very essence of the Baccalaureate Core and we are fortunate to have such a leader in the effective teaching of science to non-majors.”

Congratulations, Lesley! Thank you for your dedication and passion to inspire the next generation of informed, curious and engaged citizens.

Additional photos from the 2020 Winter Teaching and Advising Awards Ceremony