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CALS Awards: Teaching and advising awards

Today we are honored to highlight the recipients of the J.S. Donald Short Course Teaching Award, Arthur J. and Ellen A. Maurer Extra Mile Award, Spitzer Excellence in Teaching Award and WALSAA Outstanding Advisor Award.

PJ Liesch

PJ Liesch, a professor and extension specialist in the entomology department, was selected to receive the 2020 J.S. Donald Short Course Teaching Award. He teaches an integrated pest management course in the Farm and Industry Short Course program. When he began teaching the class, he realized its current structure was limiting students’ ability to gain hands on lab experience, so he worked with other instructors to focus on participatory learning experiences.

To benefit both conventionally oriented students with a focus on pesticide use, as well as organic growers interested in limiting the use of pesticides, Liesch dedicated two labs to allow for hands-on experience for both approaches to farming. This change in the course has been greatly appreciated by his students.

Liesch continues to seek improvements to his class every year. Based on input from students in the first and second year he introduced new aspects that provided fewer PowerPoint lectures and more interactive and participatory training. In addition, he always emphasizes his availability to assist students.

Liesch is a dedicated and highly knowledgeable instructor who has gone above and beyond his required duties to improve the knowledge and development of short course students.

Dominique Brossard

Dominique Brossard is a professor and chair of the life sciences communication department and the recipient of the Arthur J. and Ellen A. Maurer Extra Mile Award. She has been recognized by the International Communication Association for her exceptional contributions to academic literature. Brossard also serves on committees at the National Science Foundation and is a member of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine Board of Life Sciences.

During her time as chair of the department, Brossard went the extra mile to implement a complete redesign of the undergraduate curriculum to better prepare LSC graduates for the job market. She also went the extra mile when she developed a maternity leave policy for graduate students enabling them to continue on time progress towards their degrees.

Whether inspiring undergraduates to pursue a degree in the life sciences or inviting new graduate students to attend prestigious academic functions to broaden their professional networks, Brossard routinely goes above and beyond what is expected. Her risk communication class is a highly sought-after course and is noted for the lengths Brossard to goes to bring in renowned experts in the field. Her commitment to never leave a class with the answer “I don’t know” makes her well deserving of this award.

Michel A. Wattiaux

Michel Wattiaux has been a member of the Department of Dairy Science faculty since 2000, and is this year’s recipient of the Spitzer Excellence in Teaching Award. Over the past two decades, Wattiaux has worked tirelessly to improve the educational experience of undergraduate students in the Department of Dairy Science, the Department of Animal Sciences, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and across UW–Madison. His impact reaches beyond the development and teaching of his courses through leadership positions in committees, programs, and initiatives at the department, college, university and national levels.

Wattiaux has taught more than 1,600 students in 107 separate semester-long course offerings in the last 20 years. He has contributed substantially to improvement in curriculum not only in the dairy science department but also in CALS, including serving on the CALS curriculum committee and chairing the dairy science curriculum committee.

Wattiaux has developed eight new courses, and his focus has been on “student-based” learning. The active learning strategies promoted by Wattiaux require full engagement by both student and instructor and result in a two-way flow of knowledge, ideas and opinions that benefits both parties. His mastery of “discussion-based classroom” is evidenced by student course evaluations and assessments that are consistently above departmental peers.

Daniel K. Young

The 2020 recipient of the WALSAA Outstanding Advisor Award is Daniel K. Young, a professor in the Department of Entomology. From suggesting classes for their schedules each semester to advising them on professional development, Young exceeds expectations for mentoring his students. The dedication to his students is demonstrated through the courses Young teaches and his outreach in the department. Young serves as co-advisor to all entomology undergraduate majors and, because he has all of them in his classes, he gets to know them very well.

Young facilitates professional development through SWARM, which is a Friday social gathering of all the entomology faculty, staff and students. Here, students have the opportunity to connect with other professors and graduate students for collaboration on research as well as to explore other entomological interests. Young is also the unofficial faculty advisor to the Undergraduate Entomology Society and coach to the UW-Entomology Linnaean Games teams, which participate in a college-bowl like competition at the National Entomology meetings each year.

Young exemplifies a professor going above and beyond to ensure student academic and professional success. Young engages students and builds relationships through the coursework which includes collection trips, labs and lectures. After completing Entomology 302, students want to take more classes with him because of his vibrant nature. It is for these reasons, and the impact Young has made on students’ career paths that make him well deserving of this award.