Two members of EEB received awards at the Chancellor’s Honors Award Banquet on April 19, 2017: PhD candidate Cassie Dresser (Fitzpatrick Lab) & Associate Professor Beth Schussler
2017 Graduate Student Teaching Award
Unlike many PhD candidates who focus solely on research, Cassie Dresser has wanted to teach since arriving in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2013. In fact, she’s been teaching throughout her academic career. As an undergraduate at Hartwick College in New York, she was a tutor. As a master’s student at Central Michigan University, she was a teaching assistant. Before starting her PhD, she worked as an environmental educator at a state park in Michigan. Here, she’s been a lecture assistant, a teaching assistant, and now head TA. She excelled when given the rare opportunity to be the sole instructor of a 200-level course, and she is one of the first graduate students to complete UT’s Certificate in College Teaching program. Dresser has not only sought to improve her own teaching but also enhanced the teaching of other TAs in her department by researching and sharing best practices and by developing research-based scientific literacy coursework.
2017 Excellence in Teaching
Elizabeth Shussler, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, is described by her students as excited, enthusiastic, and committed to their success. “Beth must engage students at all levels, and she is wildly successful,” a colleague said. She finds ways to “really engage her students in learning how to do science, rather than just memorizing what science has already learned.” Schussler has been a pioneer in using active learning techniques—everything from clickers and Learning Catalytics to small-group discussions—to keep students engaged during large science lectures. She serves as director of teaching and learning for the Division of Biology and has been instrumental in improving biology courses at UT. She received the 2016 UT Alumni Outstanding Teaching Award and the 2012 College of Arts and Sciences Junior Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award.