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Annual Award Winners and Quarterly Honorees

Adjunct faculty are a key component to the Geo2YC community—they bring enthusiasm for teaching, professional experience, and creative approaches to improving student success to our classrooms. We strongly believe these colleagues should be celebrated for their efforts to enhancing geoscience education.

Each year, the Geo2YC division recognizes four quarterly honorees for their outstanding contributions to geoscience teaching at their 2-year institution. These individuals are highlighted in the division's Foundations newsletter, and provided a complimentary one-year membership to the division. From these quarterly honorees, each fall, the division votes to select the National Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award recipient. This person will be recognized at the annual Geological Society of America meeting, and will receive a $750 stipend from Pearson Publishing to use toward professional development.


2021

Quarterly Honorees

Spring 2021:
Kusali Gamage, Austin Community College

Soon after Kusali started adjunct teaching at Austin Community College in 2011, she explored ways to expose her students to the work of scientists, as well as possible career fields. In 2014, she developed classroom materials based on an ongoing International Ocean Drilling Program expedition (studying the Izu Bonin Mariana Forearc). Her students read an overview of the drilling cruise, followed the Expedition's blog for two weeks, and then composed questions which they asked to project scientists during a live video conference.

Inspired by positive student feedback and a desire to expose her students to more geoscience research, Kusali applied for an NSF IUSE:GEOPAths grant with two collaborators at UT Austin. The team was awarded the grant in 2016, and thus developed their Summer Undergraduate Research Experience Course (SUREC). In addition to summer research opportunities, the grant funds field trips to the Gulf Coast repository at Texas A&M University to expose ACC students to sediment and rock core analysis. These field trips happen each semester. According to Kusali, "During the 3-year program a total of 158 students have participated in the field activity and 24 students have participated in the summer research program. Twenty students from the summer program have successfully transferred to a four-year institution (UT or Texas A&M) to study geosciences or related STEM field." You can see what Kusali presented about this to SAGE 2YC at: https://serc.carleton.edu/sage2yc/transfer/geopaths/gamage.html and her two publications in NAGT journals:

A comparison of self-reported teaching practices focused on student skills in introductory geoscience courses at two-year and four-year institutions: Results from the National Geoscience Faculty Survey, Journal of Geoscience Education, DOI: 10.1080/10899995.2020.1833655 (with Rory McFadden, and Heather MacDonald)

Integrating Research Experience into Introductory Geoscience Courses, In The Trenches, April 2020 (with Lauren Scott, Leslie Davis and Katerina Petronotis; https://nagt.org/nagt/publications/trenches/v10-n2/index.html#second).


Winter 2021:
Jeff Simpson, Chandler Gilbert Community College

Jeff teaches both Introduction to Geology and Environmental Geology and Disasters courses at CGCC. He has created two Canvas geology master shells for common use. Each shell includes new labs that emphasize observation, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. He and his colleagues have created an online GLG110 class featuring clear objectives, instructional videos, and new practical labs that emphasize higher order skills.

He is a member of GSA and AGU and was featuredrecentlyin the Arizona Geological Survey's blog for the Arizona Geologic Hazards Lab he created using GIS resources provided by the AGS.

In a self-nomination, Jeff writes, "After attending an NAGT workshop in increasing research opportunities for undergraduate students, I wanted to explore sustainability more at CGCC and to work interdisciplinarily. To work with the trades, bringing more students into a peripheral research area, I have submitted to our administration a proposal to experiment with and make both wood chip blocks and compressed earth blocks that can be used for structures for local indigenous communities.

I have created field trips for and led students in studies of the geology of the Phoenix Mountains, North Phoenix, the Marcus Landslide, South Mountain, and the West Phoenix Gas Plant.

I have accompanied CGCC staff on field trips to the Superstitions, the San Francisco volcanic field, and Pinto Valley Mine.


 

2020

Annual Winner

Marla Morales, Northern Virginia Community College, VA

Marla is an exemplary member of the teaching faculty at NOVA. For more than five years, she's shared her passion and dedication for getting students excited about their planet by teaching introductory-level historical and physical geology courses. She's taught face-to-face, online, and hybrid courses, and contributed talks to our Geology Club seminar series. Marla has been an active member of the "DC Metro" SAGE 2YC team over the past two years, helping advance inclusivity and efficacy of science teaching at our college, and helping organize and lead workshops for college and regional faculty. Callan Bentley, who nominated Marla, said, "I'm pleased to have an active research scientist like Marla on our faculty, improving the lives of our students."

To all of our 2020 Honorees: we are inspired by your energy and grateful for your service to the Geo2YC Division and your students! We are pleased to support each Honoree with a one-year complimentary membership to the NAGT Geo2YC Division, and all were entered into the pool of honorees under consideration for the 2020 Annual Outstanding Faculty Award, which is sponsored by a professional development stipend of up to $750 from Pearson Publishing.

Quarterly Honorees


Summer 2020:
Dulce Cruz, Northwest Vista College

The Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award Committee recognizes Dulce Cruz as our summer 2020 honoree.

Ms. Cruz teaches Earth Science, Oceanography and the labs for Earth Science and Physical Geology in San Antonio's Northwest Vista College. Dulce is currently filling in as a temporary full-time member of the department while a full-time colleague is serving as department chair.

Like most of the people reading this article, Dulce loves teaching. Her enthusiasm and kindness are obvious to her students who often comment on her passion and helpfulness on evaluations. Dulce values the fact that as a foreign-born and bilingual instructor, she is a role model for many of the Hispanic/Latinx students in her classroom.

Dulce is relatively new to teaching, serving as a full-time adjunct for only three years. Nonetheless, she's been a strong force in the department. With her team's input, Dulce not only developed new labs for the Earth Science course, but adapted these to an online format in order to comply with COVID restrictions. She also worked to promote geoscience in the college's biannual Science Festival and "Sci-tober".

Spring 2020:
William Gray Dean, Walters State Community College

This round of the Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award goes to William "Gray" Dean, who teaches at the eCampus of Walters State Community College, TN.
Gray was nominated by his faculty, who acknowledged his dedication and patience towards all students enrolled in his online Geology classes. Feedback from student evaluations illuminate Gray as an instructor who provides his students with persistent support and encouragement. Many student evaluations commented that his positive attitude and regular feedback helped them through some of the most overwhelming times of their academic career and helped them achieve their best. Other students remarked on how much they appreciated his high expectations and comprehensive course work, valuing their class with Gray as some of the most rewarding ever.

It is clear that Gray extends a great deal of compassion and genuine concern for his students and that those who take his classes leave with their eyes wide open and attuned to the world around them. Congratulations to Gray for being recognized as an outstanding instructor and for all he has done to help students succeed.


2018-2019

Annual Winner

Sadie Kingsbury, Mount San Antonio College

Sadie was nominated by Dave Mroka, Mount San Antonio College 
In his nomination, Mroka writes, "Sadie strives to engage her students, she is lively, energetic, always in a good mood, and builds relationships with students. I have visited her classroom 3-4 times, and her students are almost always working energetically as teams as she walks around and checks on their progress, and explains something if necessary. I have also been impressed with Sadie's efforts to improve her instruction. She has attended the last three of the SAGE workshops that have been offered in the area. For the last workshop she worked with the workshop leaders and introduced and managed the part of the workshop where instructors and students were introduced to various professional development activities. Sadie would be the first to tell you she has a lot to learn, but she's always working to learn it. I wish she was a full time member of our department!"

 

Quarterly Honorees

Fall 2019:
Bridget James, De Anza College

Bridget was nominated by Chris DiLeonardo, De Anza College 
In his nomination, DiLeonardo writes, "Bridget was the first in her family to complete a college degree. She transferred to the University of California to complete her B.S. in Earth Science and from there completed her M.S. in Geology at San Jose State University. She completed her graduate degree while also working with the Bay Area Earth Science Institute at the university, supporting local K-12 earth science education. Her success as a transfer student is also something Bridget leverages in supporting aspiring 2YC students interested in going on in the geosciences. I can without exception think of no one more deserving of this award. Bridget has demonstrated her skills as a classroom and online educator in numerous subjects across the introductory earth sciences curriculum. She has become a leader in developing networks amongst 2YC geoscience departments and with 4-year universities in the San Francisco Bay Region. She has been involved in national advancement of 2YC geoscience education and the development of best practices in creating online courses in the earth sciences. She is one of the Northern California Change agents for the national SAGE 2YC Project and has been a co-leader of an Earth Science Educators Rendezvous workshop on online instruction. To my knowledge she is the only adjunct faculty member in the country to have either of these two distinctions. More importantly Bridget has been a tireless supporter of her full-time faculty colleagues, helping with the development of several online classes. And finally, as a role model to her students, especially those considering careers in the earth sciences she has been nothing short of spectacular. Bridget James is very deserving of this award and recognition by her faculty colleagues in NAGT."

Spring 2019:
Glen White, Columbia College

Glen was nominated by Pete Berquist
In his nomination, Pete writes, "Glen has had a positive impact on thousands of students over the past 26 years of teaching Earth Sciences at Columbia College. During this time, he has combined his 25-year experience as a consulting geologist and work with the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools to inspire students and K-12 teachers alike. According to nominator Jeff Tolhurst, Glen has earned a reputation for being an inspiring, respectful, and effective educator through all that have interacted with him, either at Columbia College or through the Tuolumne County Schools. As an instructor at Columbia College, Glen has a loyal following of students that value his vast knowledge of local geology, practical examples, and engaging instructional methods. K-12 STEM teachers in the local schools know Glen through his various efforts supporting Geoscience and STEM education, which include leadership roles with a summer Geoscience/STEM teaching training institute and their Teaching Opportunities for Professional Scientists (TOPS) Program."


2017-2018

Annual Winner

Mariah Tilman, Chemeketa Community College

Mariah was nominated by Reanna Camp-Witmer, Autumn Christensen, and Shannon thus-Gault, Chemketa Community College 
The nominators write, "Mariah is an incredible adjunct who has been an active part of our department. She is both a valued colleague and a dear friend. She works as hard as each of the full-time faculty and also is incredible at picking up classes when full time people are absent. She is very involved with the department and creating, commenting on, and sharing curriculum. She has contributed a great deal of her own material to the 3 Pacific Northwest Geology lab manuals that have been published through Chemeketa Press. She is always of the mindset that old material can be improved upon and new material should be created. She is helping us developing them further and has shown interest in continuing the effort to reduce textbook costs for our students. She also has a knack for developing meaningful field trips for a variety of geology classes. I have had the pleasure of doing field trip reconnaissance with her in areas that have ranged from the Oregon Coast to Mt. St. Helens to the local Santiam River. Beyond her kindness and ability to collaborate professionally, perhaps her most important qualification as a community college professor is her talent as an instructor. Working alongside her these past two and a half years, I observed many of her interactions with students. In class, she is fun, funny, and engaging. She is able to captivate her audience with her impressive knowledge of Pacific Northwest geology as well as her fascinating background in Volcanology. Out of class, she is patient and determined. When a student seeks help from her, she does not give up until he or she understands. This was further illustrated to me when I had the honor of sitting in on one of her prison classes last winter. Her very special ability to respectfully instruct and engage a room full of male inmates in a non- traditional classroom was truly an inspiration. Mariah has instilled in me a revitalized sense of what it means to be an effective community college instructor. She has filled multiple roles in our school, including the College Inside program. She also works on outside interests that directly, positively impact the geology department. She is truly a wonderful teacher and her students love her. I don't know where we would be without her. "

Quarterly Honorees

 
Summer 2018:
Meredith Denton-Hendrick, Austin Community College

Meredith was nominated by Bob Blodgett, Austin Community College
Blodgett writes, "Meredith's initiative, innovation, passion, and skill as a geoscience educator have made her an invaluable colleague, outstanding teacher, and dedicated mentor. She came to the college as an experienced exploration and production geophysicist and rock-mechanics consultant, only to find that she needed paleontology to teach Historical Geology and meteorology to teach Natural Hazards and Disasters. She delved into both with typical fervor – learning local Cretaceous index fossils and becoming a National Weather Service Storm Spotter. With only 3 full-time faculty covering 5 campuses Meredith adopted an entire campus and transformed it – building a teaching collection, creating a rock, mineral and fossil display, and covering the halls with framed maps and charts. She helped students organize the college's first Geology Club and as co- advisor has co-led trips to West Texas, given career talks, and worked with students to build an augmented reality sandbox – all without remuneration. Seeing the need to reach students outside the classroom, Meredith created and maintains our first Department Facebook page. Constantly seeking to improve her teaching, she has participated in multiple SAGE2YC workshops, the Earth Educators Rendezvous, and The Math You Need When You Need It project. She freely shares her knowledge by conducting faculty training in The Math You Need, two-stage exams, and IF-AT cards. Meredith developed our first distance learning offering of Natural Hazards and Disasters; her course has a waiting list each semester and attracts students from across the country."

 
Winter 2018:
Russ Kohrs, Lord Fairfax Community College

Russ was nominated by Callan Bentley, Northern Virginia Community College.

Bentley writes, "Russ's former LFCC supervisor, Ann Simpson, reports that, "In my position as Program Lead at Lord Fairfax Community College, I have observed Russ Kohrs in action in the classroom and have been extremely impressed with his contagious enthusiasm and his desire to engage students about the wonders of geology. Russ turns rocks into stories that students find captivating." Liz Dingess, Russ's current supervisor, tells me "Russ is fabulous and is my go-to guy for geology! He is constantly trying new teaching techniques in both lecture and lab to get his students engaged and loving geology as much as he does. Russ dedicated quite a bit of time to create a new class last year for us; 'Environmental Geology'. Russ's passion and enthusiasm for his subject matter comes shining through everything I talk with him. He is the perfect candidate for this award." LFCC student reviewers said of Russ that he has "Great field trips, great passion," and that he is "absolutely amazing. Not only is he very personable and caring, but his passion for Geology and excellence in teaching are inspirational. I hate science, but his course made me love it."


2016-2017

Annual Winner

Wendi J. W. Williams, Northwest Arkansas Community College.

Wendi was self-nominated and writes, "I have been contributing as an Adjunct Faculty for multiple 2YC and 4YC institutions for many years. I am now in my 9th year with Northwest Arkansas Community College and University of Arkansas-Little Rock. Prior to that I have been adjunct with Austin Community College and North Harris College (now part of the Lone Star System in Houston). In addition to dedicating my time to bringing better, nationally-informed geoscience education to my community college students, I have maintained both a local and national presence through committee and board service (e.g. NAGT/Geo2YC, NWACC Faculty Senate, IAGD Executive Counselor, Triangle Coalition for STEM Education), participation in grants and fellowship reviews, and mentoring to fellow faculty (e.g. adjuncts at my current 2YC, as many are new graduates and not aware of resources for teaching or institutional processes and opportunities)."

Quarterly Honorees

 
Fall 2017:
Martha Murphy, Santa Rosa Junior College

Martha was nominated by Sarah Fortner, Wittenberg University.

Sarah writes, "Martha Murphy serves the broader geoscience community through sharing teaching activities in In the Trenches, sharing strategies for effective collaborative development of interdisciplinary curriculum in a 2YC session at the Earth Educator's Rendezvous, and through promoting the use of technology in the classroom (she was the lead author of an article in the 2YC newsletter on the Use of SoilWeb). Martha has also co-led a webinar on Soil Sustainability through InTeGrate that reached an audience of 60 faculty. Martha's recent contributions to the geoscience community stemmed out of her earlier work with InTeGrate co-authoring A Growing Concern: Sustaining Soil Resources through Local Decision Making. In addition, she has also reviewed 20 activities for the Cutting Edge Collection. Martha regularly teaches three or more classes a semester using a student-centered teaching style. She is a master at connecting with her students and meeting their needs through providing just-in-time resources. She has a strong sense for how teaching activities will be received by students of all abilities. As a colleague, her energy and enthusiasm propel project work to higher levels. She knows how to support success in all areas of her career through assisting students in their vocational goals and through contributing to a positive and fruitful team."


 
Winter 2017:
Sherry Oaks, Front Range Community College

Sherry was nominated by Sadredin Moosavi

Sadredin writes, "Sherry brings her experience and dedication to community college classrooms filled with non-traditional students whose lives reflect the challenges that come when "life happens". Her presence and patient work serve as a model for students whose lives have been stressed or less than the stereotypical ideal, who still can lead to meaningful careers in the geosciences that contribute to the community. Her background and dedication demonstrate that they are as worthy of faculty with world-class experience as their peers at R1 campuses. Sherry remains professionally active in geoscience education at all levels, currently focusing on development of virtual field trips/experiences in which the student voice is captured in educational products that help their peers whose health or circumstances limit access to the field to participate in this most important component of the geosciences."


2015-2016

Annual Winner

Winter 2016:
Jessica Moore, SUNY Ulster

Jessica was nominated by Steven Schimmrich, SUNY Ulster 
Schimmrich writes, "Ms. Moore has been an adjunct instructor at SUNY Ulster for several years now teaching 2-3 courses each semester. We're a small, rural community college with two full-time faculty teaching Earth sciences and we really do look upon Ms. Moore as an integral part of our team. Not only is she an excellent teacher, her energy and enthusiasm for the Earth sciences is contagious and she's responsible for recruiting many of our undecided students into additional Earth science classes and a number of them have then decided to major in geology. As an instructor, Ms. Moore constantly strives to improve her teaching and the presentation of material to the students. All of us share information back and forth (interesting papers we've read, relevant teaching information, etc.) and I would have no qualms about hiring her for a full-time position if we had one available."

Quarterly Honorees


Spring 2016:
John Maher, Johnson County Community College

John was nominated by Lynne Beatty, Johnson County Community College.

Beatty writes, "John has been invaluable to our small Geoscience Department. He volunteers! This year he has used his own free time to become certified to teach online classes, while teaching face-to-face versions as well. Due to staffing changes, he also stepped up and volunteered to teach the physical geography lab even though labs do not receive equal pay for hours taught versus lecture classes. He is his own lab assistant as well, prepping and taking down equipment. John also represented JCCC at the Kansas Core Outcomes Group, a state-wide course assessment committee. He did not have to do any of these things to keep teaching at JCCC; yet he did. He gives so much of himself to our college and our students. John Maher is definitely worthy of the Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award."

 
Fall 2015:
Bernie Dougan, Whatcom Community College

Bernie was nominated by Kaatje Kraft, Whatcom Community College.

Kaatje states, ""Bernie is an instrumental part of the geology department at Whatcom. We are a department of two, and he helps to make this program thrive. [W]hen I first arrived, Bernie helped to bring me up to speed in the basics of materials, equipment, and workspace. Every quarter, he offers field trips for his students on the weekends. This quarter, he has arranged (and has for every other year) for a geology field trip by boat to the San Juan Islands for a mapping project of his [historical geology] students. Because he made this arrangement before I got here, [my students and I] are able to benefit, by making it a combined historical geology and oceanography field trip. Bernie is here during breaks and on his non-teaching days preparing and making the learning experience for his students an outstanding one. His [Discovering Geology] is part of a series he helped to develop with chemistry, physics, and biology faculty that support future teachers as part of an innovative and inquiry-driven curriculum. Students rave about their experiences in his classroom and faculty at our transfer institution (Western Washington) describe how well prepared students are coming from WCC. This is largely attributable to Bernie's dedication. He is an outstanding faculty member and I am privileged to work with him as a colleague."

 
Summer 2015:
Robert Rohrbaugh, El Paso Community College

Robert was nominated by Joshua Villalobos, Associate Professor of Geological Sciences at EPCC.

Joshua states, "Whenever I hear the phrase "outstanding adjunct" my mind immediately thinks of one individual: Rob Rohrbaugh. His work and passion has not only made the geology department at EPCC a more effective teaching environment, but more importantly, has opened new doors for our students in geoscience education. Rob has been teaching at EPCC for over 8 years as an enthusiastic adjunct whose passion and energy for geology exceeds that of most geologists I know. Rob started his path in geoscience education as a High School Dual Credit (DC) Geology Instructor for the El Paso Independent School District. As a DC instructor, Rob was able to channel his passion, knowledge, and experiences in geology to his high school students who took his class for college level credit. Rob always went above and beyond the average college curriculum for his high school students, illustrating to them what a geoscientist truly does in the field. His pedagogy and extra-curricular activities showed his students the true value of a geology education and how their age, race, and backgrounds were not limiting factors in their success in his class, or in understanding geology. Soon after starting his position as a DC instructor, Rob began teaching at EPCC with the same remarkable results. Rob's enthusiasm and passion made him one of the most popular adjuncts, and he was responsible for converting several students to declare Geology as their major at EPCC. However, his passion for geo-education does not end in the classroom. On his own, Rob created a program called GEO-Ventures El Paso in 2012 (https://www.facebook.com/GeoVenturesElPaso/). This program is geared to get EPCC students, and members of our local community, to participate in educational geology hikes, tours, and multi-day camping trips in our region. All of his GEOVentures El Paso activities include curriculum that he develops on his own and are tied to ongoing learning goals and objectives in our geology department at EPCC. It is difficult to sum up the work and effects of these efforts Rob has provided for us at EPCC and to our students in just two paragraphs. But then again, knowing Rob he would say that this recommendation is already two paragraphs too long!"


2014-2015

Annual Winner

 
Spring 2015:
Karen Bridges, Howard Community College

Karen was nominated for this recognition by Sharon Lyon

Sharon writes "I nominate Professor Karen Bridges for the National Association of Geoscience Teachers Geo2YC Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award. Karen has taught at Howard Community College since Fall 2010, as an adjunct instructor, advancing to Senior Adjunct Instructor. Karen has taught Physical Geology, Oceanography, Earth & Space Science and Technical Physical Science at HCC. She was the first to teach Oceanography as a face-to-face class at HCC (it had been previously offered only online), and she was responsible for developing all of the curricula for her class, including her lecture powerpoints, class activities, homework assignments, quizzes and tests. She has joined in the college's Sustainability efforts, incorporated sustainability activities into her Oceanography and Geology classes. In addition, for the past 2 summers, Karen has been a faculty member on our Bermuda Science – Study Abroad Program, at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences. Although being a faculty member in Bermuda may sound like an undemanding assignment, it actually is a lot of work. Karen was responsible for students on boats, snorkeling both in the daytime and at night, on fieldtrips on land, and in transit at airports. She was responsible for handling student issues and crises, which included everything from seasickness to ant infestations. She handled everything in her usual cheerful, yet calm manner.

To observe Ms. Bridges in the classroom is to see a master teacher at work. Her enthusiasm is contagious, as often commented on by students. She is equally as enthusiastic in teaching about sedimentary rocks as she is about chemical bonds. She has a special affinity for breaking complex ideas into manageable learning elements, and she uses many active learning activities and strategies in her classroom. Ms. Bridges is adept at using the Learning Management System, Canvas. She has taught face-to-face, hybrid and online courses. Her student evaluations are consistently outstanding. This past semester one of Karen's students, from the Earth & Space Science class, which is for education majors/future teachers, commented that, "while the class was good, Prof. Bridges was great and being in Prof. Bridge's class made me want to be a better teacher in my own classroom." Because of her hard work, her enthusiastic teaching style, and her willingness to go the extra mile for her students, I believe that Professor Karen Bridges deserves to be recognized by NAGT."

 

Quarterly Honorees

 
Fall 2014:
Michael Whittier, Modesto Junior College

Michael was nominated by Garry Hayes (Professor of Geology at Modesto Junior College). 

Garry writes "Mike is a well-regarded member of our division who has taught courses on a part-time basis for more than a decade. He is popular with his students, and a large number of them decide to pursue a geology/earth science major. Even though it isn't required of adjunct faculty, he has participated in division meetings, and has volunteered in our field studies programs. Mike has also supported earth science education in our region by serving as the president of the Mother Lode Mineral Society, leading rock hounding trips and organizing the yearly mineral show in Turlock, considered one of the best in California."

 
Winter 2015:
L. Cameron Mosher, Salt Lake Community College

Cameron was nominated for this recognition by Maura Hahnenberger. 

Maura writes "Cameron started at Salt Lake Community College in developmental math after he was encouraged to become a college instructor by a student he was tutoring. He joined the Geosciences department as an adjunct in 2013. Since joining the department, he has shown a strong commitment to student learning and engagement not only in his courses, but throughout the department. Cam spearheaded a reorganization of the geology lab into learning "pods" that would facilitate group activities and interaction. All instructors in the lab have had a positive impact from this change, indicating that it is more conducive to student-centered learning and an engaging classroom environment. Cam has also created an extensive library of online lecture videos and quizzes. These videos are used to "flip the classroom" or to enhance student learning outside of class. The commitment and time Cam put toward these video learning aids has not been matched by any of our other adjunct instructors. Finally, Cam brings his career of empowerment training to the classroom and helps students explore what their place is in the world--not just in the world of geology, but also how we fit into the complex universe around us. This broad perspective, combined with student-centered learning, has made Cam invaluable to the Geosciences department."


2013-2014

Annual Winner


Michelle Selvans, Northern Virginia Community College 

Dr. Michelle Selvans has been a member of the geology faculty at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) since 2012. Her instructional style is engaging and relevant to the diverse student body, and has received praise from students and observers of her Physical Geology, Field Study (Geology on the National Mall), and Historical Geology courses. She has fostered connections with colleagues within NOVA to develop her understanding of local field sites and specialized lab equipment, and has participated in training sessions and successfully implemented relevant technology in her classroom. Michelle has also developed her teaching skills through workshops offered through On the Cutting Edge, professional conference settings, the Virginia Community College System, and NOVA, during her time at NOVA. She has also shared insights into encouraging critical thinking in introductory Geology courses with the geoscience education community, based on her experience at NOVA and in collaboration with colleagues at four-year universities, at the 2013 Geological Society of America Annual Meeting. In addition, when the committee inquired about Michelle, she was described by a colleague (who also happens to be the editor of this newsletter) as "top notch." Lastly, after the committee made their decision, we were notified that she was submitting to the newsletter for this month. Yet one more indicator of the strong commitment she has for our community.

Quarterly Honorees

 
Fall 2013:
Christopher Khourey, Northern Virginia Community College

Chris was nominated by Callan Bentley.

Callan writes "Chris Khourey has been a dependable, innovative member of the adjunct faculty in geology at Northern Virginia Community College for most of the time I've been there - at least five years. During that time, Chris has taught at two different NOVA campuses, Alexandria and Annandale. In these two places, 12 Chris has mastered teaching both our introductory level courses, Physical and Historical Geology. His approach to methodical lectures, the sharing of detailed lecture notes, and involved labs is deeply appreciated by his students. He puts in extra time, uncompensated in any way, tutoring his students in our "Science Learning Center." This is unusual, and commendable. In addition, he has developed brand new 1-credit field courses focused on exploring the geological story behind two iconic mountains in our region, Stony Man (Shenandoah National Park, Virginia), and Sugarloaf (near Comus, Maryland - the "only mountain in the Piedmont"). Last summer, Chris joined my own field class, a four-credit Regional Field Geology of the Northern Rocky Mountains. He audited the class for professional development, and collected samples, photos, and ideas that he now employs in his classes at NOVA. This sort of initiative and dedication to self-improvement impresses me deeply. Chris is a man of sterling character and commitment to his students. I have found him to be utterly dependable, professional in demeanor, and thoughtful and considerate to a degree I hadn't thought possible. It's an honor to have him as a colleague."

 
Winter 2014:
Rebecca Carmody, Howard Community College, Columbia, MD.

Rebecca was nominated by Sharon Lyon at Howard Community College.

Sharon writes "Dr. Carmody has been teaching at Howard Community College since Fall 2008. Prior to coming to HCC, she taught Earth Science at Chelsea School, a school for children with learning differences. At HCC, Dr. Carmody has taught Physical Geology, Earth and Space Science, Meteorology, Technical Physical Science lab, and Inorganic Chemistry lab. This semester she has taken over the Astronomy lecture and lab online courses. Dr. Carmody has taught face-to-face, hybrid and online sections, with multiple preps during every semester. She has taught day, evening and Saturday classes. She came to HCC as a student in the online astronomy course to update her teaching certification, and while she has been an instructor at HCC she has taken meteorology and chemistry courses as refreshers. Dr. Carmody is an extremely dedicated and hard-working instructor. She has developed and led geology fieldtrips, including trips to the Woodstock Dome, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and the Prince Georges County Dinosaur Park. She has developed Sky Watch and Planetarium exercises, and has spent many (cold) evenings on the student patio at HCC and at Alpha Ridge Park in Howard County, teaching students how to identify celestial objects and use a telescope. Dr. Carmody is highly respected by her students and her student reviews are consistently outstanding. She is ready and willing to step in when needed and works tirelessly for the good of the Science, Engineering & Technology Division at Howard Community College."

 
Summer 2014:
Thomas Vaughn, Middlesex Community College

Thomas has received several prestigious teaching awards, including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science; the Massachusetts Science Teacher of the Year; the Massachusetts Science Leader of the Year; the Distinguished Alumni from Boston University, UMass/Lowell, and Lesley University; and the Pathfinder Award for innovative use of technology in the classroom by the state of Massachusetts.

Thomas teaches Introduction to Oceanography and Marine Biology and Environmental Studies at Middlesex Community College, where his students value the high quality of his instruction. Regarding this role, he feels that "... the topics we [Geoscience faculty] teach are extremely important for the future of our planet. I have always devoted the necessary time and effort into my student lessons so that they learn significant content about Planet Earth. Some of my students have chosen to go on into majors in the geosciences." In addition to the Middlesex community, Thomas is also a highly valued and active member of the Geoscience Education community. In this role, he has served two terms as the President of the NAGT New England Section, served on his campus's Science Standards Revision Committee, and has had important input into the formulation of earth science standards in Massachusetts since 1996.


2012-2013

 

Quarterly Honorees

 
Winter 2013:
Joseph van Gaalen, Edison State College

Joe was nominated by Dr. Rozalind Jester. Rosalind writes 

"Joe embodies all the characteristics of what we expect from our full-time faculty and I have been fortunate to work closely with him over the last several years. Joe makes a point to participate in departmental projects, meetings and discussions, as well as contribute to curriculum development. He does all of this (without extra compensation I may add) because he is committed to the College and our students. In fact, Joe developed the entire lecture and lab curriculum for our Physical Geology course, an area where Edison lacks a full-time faculty member. Joe also contributed a significant amount of time and effort to help design and write a custom lab manual that is now used throughout our oceanography courses. His positive attitude & flexible nature has made him a real asset to our department! Joe is committed, not just to our department, but also to his student's success. As an adjunct, he makes himself very accessible to his students and is always willing to spend extra time to help them if needed. I often hear from students that "Prof vG" is always so excited about the material he presents in class and they relate to his enthusiasm. It's true; he is very passionate about Earth sciences & genuinely loves teaching at the introductory level! From our collaborations, I know that he is constantly trying to think of ways he can better relate challenging science concepts to our students, many of whom are under prepared for college level science courses. Joe knows how to turn what some might see as "dry" science into an engaging trip through our planet & its habitats. I have no doubt that in the end Joe has his student's best interest at heart and I truly think he deserves recognition as an Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Member!"

 
Spring 2013:
Roy (Rick) Nixon, Georgia Perimeter College

Rick was nominated by Dr. Pamela Gore.

Pamela writes "Dr. Rick Nixon has been teaching Geology classes part-time for us at Georgia Perimeter College since 2007. When I have observed his classes, he has consistently had high quality presentations, which have kept students interested and involved. He keeps his classes fun and entertaining for the students. He relates Geology topics to the students' lives, such as pointing out clues to geologic hazards to look for when they look for a home to purchase. He also treats the students with respect and works to find the approach with each student that meets their needs and maximizes their success in the class. Rick also teaches the students how to study, and designs his courses to build in repetition to help students retain certain facts and principles. He also designs exercises that require students to use basic geologic principles that they have learned in class. I have been impressed that Dr. Nixon has taken the initiative to suggest improvements to our labs, and that he uses his own money to purchase supplemental lab specimens and to photocopy packets of helpful handouts for students to use in lab each week. His handouts are so good that I have adopted some of them to use with my own classes. Dr. Nixon loves teaching Geology so much that he spares no expense or effort to make his classes the best possible. Dr. Nixon teaches both on-campus and online lectures and laboratory sections. He is very cooperative and will do everything he can to help us. He is the ideal adjunct instructor and I highly recommend him for this award."

Rick responded saying, "This would not have been possible without the outstanding support from Dr. Carl McAllister, my Chair, and Dr. Pam Gore, my good friend and mentor. Working with students at Perimeter College is challenging and rewarding. Earlier this year, I was greeted by a student from several years ago. He had a good job, and his life was headed for more good things. That I may have had a small part in his success was a personal reminder of the importance of a good education."

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