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Celebrating excellence in teaching and advising: 2024 College of Science Awards

By Hannah Ashton

The College of Science gathered on Feb. 29 to recognize and celebrate our high achieving faculty and staff at the 2024 Combined Awards Ceremony. The evening celebrated the very best in the College, from teaching, advising and research to inclusive excellence, administration and service.

The following faculty and staff received awards in the categories of teaching and advising.

Congratulations to all the awardees!

Olaf Boedtker Award for Excellence in Academic Advising

Cody Duncan, academic advisor in the Department of Integrative Biology, received the Olaf Boedtker Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising.

Cody Duncan smiling for a photo.

Cody Duncan

Duncan was praised by students for being an outstanding advisor, even when he was not their primary advisor.

One student commends Duncan for being the best advisor they’ve had at OSU, stating, “He is thoughtful, kind and cares about students.” Others highlighted his responsiveness in addressing schedule and planning issues, always providing helpful options for meeting forward.

His influence has had a lasting positive impact. A student recalls their first meeting with Duncan, emphasizing his kindness and understanding of their goals upon entering college. Even amid changing academic interests, Cody’s support remains unwavering. A student shares, “He helped me navigate a shift from pre-vet to pre-med during my senior year, providing knowledgeable advice on next steps in terms of shadowing or exploring human medicine.”

What sets him apart is his enduring support. He is known for mentioning to students that they can contact him even after college if they need help or direction. This long-term commitment underscores his genuine care for students.

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

Senior Instructor I Amila Liyanage received the Loyd F. Carter Award for Outstanding and Inspirational Undergraduate Teaching in Science. Liyanage teaches Experimental Chemistry.

Amila Liynage smiling for a photo.

Amila Liyanage

Students unanimously commended Liyanage’s impactful teaching style, especially in lab settings, where he stands out for being incredibly hands-on and focused on students’ needs. One student notes, “He takes the time to connect with students. He listens to concerns with an open mind and takes the time to help the students solve the problem at hand.”

Beyond the classroom, his proactive dedication is evident as he takes time to review student’s lab reports before deadlines, providing valuable feedback and help to succeed. He is described as “outgoing and respectful to lab attendants and faculty.”

In the Experimental Chemistry Honors series, students appreciate Liyanage’s kindness, detailed explanations and clear directions. One student emphasizes, “Liyanage was so supportive and helpful when I had a question or if I was struggling.”

Students value his recognition of their lives outside academia, citing instances where he granted extensions due to external circumstances. “He is an incredible teacher and mentor, and I can’t think of anyone truly more deserving of this award,” one student wrote.

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

Assistant Professor Jamie Cornelius received the Loyd F. Carter Award for Outstanding and Inspirational Graduate Teaching in Science. She teaches environmental physiology and behavioral neurobiology.

Jamie Cornelius smiling for a photo.

Jamie Cornelius

Students describe Cornelius as an outstanding scientist and teacher, with a teaching approach that prioritizes engaging with students rather than relying on traditional success metrics. According to one student, “The content she teaches is challenging, yet she makes it accessible to all students and will go out of her way to ensure student success.” Known for her kindness, empathy and fun attitude, she is regarded as an inspirational figure in the natural sciences, leaving students with “a newfound sense of wonder and excitement.”

Conrnelius is lauded for fostering an inclusive environment, breaking down the intimidating professor stereotype by sharing personal experiences. A student notes, “She breaks up lectures by bringing in her guitar to play science songs that she wrote which are always so enjoyed.” Her commitment to accessibility is evident as she is “never too busy for a student,” and she actively seeks feedback. “Her visible excitement and enthusiasm for the material is contagious.”

Fred Horne Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching Science

Shawn Massoni, senior instructor I in the Department of Microbiology, received the Frederick Horne Award for Excellence in Teaching Science. Since joining Oregon State in 2018, Massoni has demonstrated engaging pedagogical methods, an emphasis on inclusivity and a commitment to creating an engaging and equitable learning environment.

Shawn Massoni smiles for a photo.

Shawn Massoni

Massoni is dedicated to student growth and his lessons continue to impact students years later. A former student praised his ability to make science accessible and instill a love of learning. “In my opinion, this might be the most profound impact a teacher can have on a student because it seeps into every part of a person’s life,” the alumnus wrote.

He is known as a genuine, authentic human who made the intimidating world of science feel accessible. Using a combination of short lectures and in-class collaborative learning assignments as his primary pedagogy, Massoni engages students in the learning process. He has worked diligently to develop and implement inclusive learning environments, fostering a deeper understanding of the subject matter. He is pushing pedagogical boundaries and always striving to improve.

“He exemplifies an instructor for whom every course, assignment, assessment and activity is rooted in his concern for equity, inclusion and access,” one nominator wrote. “His commitment is powerfully demonstrated by his participation in multiple study sessions, including Jane Waite’s Social Justice Education Initiative workshops, Career Champions, and faculty workgroups on systemic whiteness in higher education, among others.”

Overall, he is an exceptional educator, combining effective teaching strategies, commitment to inclusivity and a genuine passion for fostering student success in the field of microbiology.

CoS Faculty Scholar Award

Kyriakos Stylianou, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, received the College of Science Faculty Scholar Award, for his contributions to teaching, research and mentorship. This award was created to support teaching and learning innovation that advances Oregon State University’s retention and completion goals.

Kyriakos Stylianou smiles for a photo.

Kyriakos Stylianou

In spring 2022, Stylianou approached the general chemistry laboratory instructors with a novel proposal to create a new lab incorporating his research into metal-organic frameworks. As a first-generation scientist himself, Stylianou is acutely aware of the importance of early-career development of a scientific identity. He created a personal goal to revise Gen. Chem. labs and shift their focus to research-focused interdisciplinary experiments.

His project helps students with experimental and communication skills in the classroom and nurtures a curiosity-driven mentality in students. Through hands-on learning, students practice critical thinking and problem-solving skills that mimic research experiences. The project will culminate in the development of a 300-level chemistry course that will specifically target science identity development and hands-on research skills.

“Student feedback was overwhelmingly positive, both initially and when the project was implemented again the following year in the spring of 2023. Students were excited to learn that they were participating in a new activity involving modern research, and furthermore, a project that no other students across the nation–or the world for that matter–were doing. Stylianou’s efforts with his MOF project have helped OSU Chemistry to stand out as truly unique in its general chemistry program,” one grateful nominator wrote.

“He is a talented and energetic educator who is committed to advancing new teaching strategies to engage students and strengthen our curriculum,” another nominator wrote.

Whiteley Faculty Scholar Award for Teaching Excellence

The College of Science Mentoring Community, including Mary Beisiegel, Lauren Dalton, Elizabeth Gire, Erin Howard, Nathan Kirk, Shawn Massoni and Louis Wojciniski, received the Whitely Faculty Scholar for Teaching Excellence Award.

In 2017, the Ben and Elaine Whiteley Faculty Scholar Fund for Teaching Excellence was established through Ben Whiteley’s estate to support great teachers who are advancing teaching and learning excellence in support of increased student success.

Acknowledging the importance of effective peer mentoring for university faculty to succeed in various aspects of their roles, this group of faculty proposed a plan to create a mentorship program in the College of Science. Focused on addressing teaching excellence, the group will use triads, training, classroom observations, reflective artifacts and peer reviews.

The overall goals include building community, supportive effective peer review, recognizing diversity and inclusion and collaborating with the Oregon State Center for Teaching and Learning. The program’s three-year plan includes curriculum development, a pilot program, participant recruitment and expansion.

This initiative aligns with university and college-wide strategic goals, emphasizing teaching excellence, mentorship and inclusivity. The program is designed by a diverse committee representing all the departments within the College of Science, ensuring a comprehensive and sustainable approach to faculty development in teaching.