Excellence in Teaching Award

The Award for 2017

vonnie shields and michelle snyder
Associate Dean Vonnie Shields and Dr. Michelle Snyder

Our recipient began his/her tenure at Towson University in 2006. Since this time, this faculty member has taught six courses, which does not include directed readings, independent research, or seminar courses. Our awardee was the first faculty member in his/her department to expand a Cell Biology course into a large, multi-section lecture course housing 60-100 students, while still incorporating a recitation-type style. Our awardee has had nothing but superb teaching evaluations, always achieving ratings of well over four points out of five.  She has received student evaluative comments such as “she prepared me for an entry-level job within a lab setting” and went on to say “having hands-on experience with lab techniques has been extremely informative.” This faculty member created a new graduate class in Cell Signaling, as well as a Cell Biology Laboratory class, which serves as a model for recently developed Course-Based Undergraduate Research ExperienceS (or CURES). In the latter course, our faculty member sought funding from the Fisher Endowment funds to be able to pay for materials that would be needed for this course. This allowed her to show undergraduate students how to conduct real research, while in a classroom setting. Students were then offered the opportunity to bring their findings back to our faculty member’s laboratory, where subsequently, the data was further analyzed allowing a truly authentic research experience to be accomplished. This implementation of a teaching-research model surely contributed to the success of our recent Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant award, where the primary mission is to formulate and design CURES at TU. Lastly, in conjunction with another faculty member, our awardee, as Co-PI, was awarded two prestigious NIH-funded grants aimed at training under-represented minority students, allowing them to complete their studies in STEM fields. One grant, the Bridges to Baccalaureate, in collaboration with BCCC and CCBC, allows undergraduate students to pursue their associate’s degrees and transition to TU for their four-year degree. The second grant, the Bridges to Doctorate grant, allows students to begin and complete a Master’s degrees at TU and then, transition to the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s PhD program in biomedical sciences. Both of these grants show a commitment to teaching and training the next generation of students and exemplify some of our college’s top priorities, namely student success, scholarship and research, and diversity.

Please join me in offering congratulations to Dr. Michelle Snyder from the Department of Biological Sciences.  

(As presented by Associate Dean Vonnie Shields at the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics Forum on December 8, 2017.)