Two faculty in the College of Science are among 10 Texas A&M University faculty selected as 2022 recipients of the Provost Academic Professional Track (APT) Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, announced Monday (Feb. 28) by the Texas A&M Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE).
Chemist James Pennington and mathematician Oksana Shatalov each received the coveted honor, created in 2019 by the CTE to encourage, recognize and reward faculty recipients for exceptional teaching practices that create meaningful learning experiences for students. The award is intended to illustrate both the impact of an effective teaching approach and the value of student-centered learning.
In addition to retaining the perpetual award title for life, Pennington and Shatalov each will receive a $5,000 cash stipend generously gifted by the Marie M. and James H. Galloway Foundation.
“The College of Science has more than 350 faculty members who excel daily in educating our majors and many other Texas A&M students in the sciences,” said Dr. Mark J. Zoran, Texas A&M biologist and executive associate dean in the College of Science. “Drs. Pennington and Shatalov are two outstanding instructional track professors who both are recognized by their colleagues and students for the excellence of their teaching, but also contribute far beyond their classrooms. We could not be more appreciative of their meritorious efforts or proud of their continuing accomplishments.”
Pennington is an instructional associate professor in the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry, which he joined in 1998, the same year he received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Michigan. As one of the most recognizable faces within the department’s instructional program, his primary responsibility and professional passion is teaching sophomore organic chemistry for non-chemistry majors and influencing these future doctors, dentists, veterinarians and engineers at a critical time in their intellectual development. Among his colleagues and students alike, Pennington has earned a reputation as an energetic, enthusiastic, challenging and rigorous instructor who holds his students to the highest standards while doing everything in his power to help them succeed. He has been recognized with the Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching at both the university (2015) and college levels (2007) and as a Fish Camp namesake (2006). For the past decade and a half, Pennington also has served as the coordinator and colorful front man for the Chemistry Road Show, one of Texas A&M’s premier outreach programs. In the spirit of Texas A&M’s land-grant mission of education for all, the popular event reaches more than 20,000 people across Texas each year while helping to stimulate interest in STEM and related careers and fuel public interest in science. As an added Road Show bonus, Pennington has had the opportunity to work closely with and mentor dozens of Aggies who have participated as assistant demonstrators, putting them on their own possible paths to involvement in science education, professional service and community outreach. In the same vein, he also serves his colleagues as a mentor for the department’s APT Peer Mentoring Program since 2019, an 18-year contributor to the Wakonse South Conference on College Teaching (1999 to 2017) and a routine collaborator with several research groups in chemistry as well as physics and astronomy.
Shatalov is an instructional professor in the Texas A&M Department of Mathematics, where she also has served as director of the Distance Masters Program (DMP) since 2019. She earned her Ph.D. in applied mathematics from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in 2001 and began her career as a mathematics researcher but soon discovered her true calling to be teaching mathematics, with a goal to make students motivated, knowledgeable and resourceful. During the past two and a half decades, Shatalov has taught classes ranging from high school to graduate level in Israel, Italy and the U.S. While in Italy, she also taught at the famous Salam Center of Theoretical Physics program for advanced postgraduate students from several developing countries. Since joining the Texas A&M faculty in 2008, she has continued to hone her teaching methodologies, designing and re-designing multiple courses to fit undergraduate and graduate students’ diverse needs. In addition to revamping the upper-level Foundations of Mathematics class, considered one of the most challenging as the first that requires students to write rigorous proofs using abstract notions and formal logic, she developed a DMP bridge course to help students better transition from undergraduate to graduate-level mathematics subjects. Because she also sees value in meeting and reaching potential students in advance, Shatalov made it a priority to get involved in outreach, serving since 2015 as director of the Texas A&M High School Mathematics Contest that annually attracts several hundred students from across Texas and since 2016 as co-director of the Summer Mathematics Research Training (SMaRT) Camp. She also shares her teaching and mentoring expertise with her colleagues within her own department as well as across the campus. Shatalov’s previous honors include a 2013 Texas A&M Association of Former Students College-Level Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching, a 2012 departmental Outstanding Teaching Award and several teaching awards in Israel.
Pennington and Shatalov are among six current Texas A&M Science faculty honored thus far as APT Faculty Teaching Excellence Award recipients, joining Instructional Professor of Chemistry Holly Gaede and Instructional Assistant Professor of Biology Andrew Tag, who were selected as members of the inaugural cohort in 2020, and Instructional Professor of Physics and Astronomy Tatiana Erukhimova and Instructional Assistant Professor of Chemistry Soon Mi Lim, who were selected in 2021.
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Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or [email protected]