2016 OUSTA Winner: Dr. Todd Pagano

paganoDr. Todd Pagano, was the founding Director of the Laboratory Science Technology (LST) program at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).  He has established a highly successful, American Chemical Society-approved program to prepare deaf and hard-of-hearing (D/HH) undergraduate students for technological careers in chemistry.  The program has two tracks, one leading to an Associate’s degree for students preparing for the workforce as laboratory technicians and another that prepares students to enter baccalaureate programs.  The program enrolls over 60 students per year, with 80% of those students completing the program and 98% of those who graduate securing jobs or continuing their learning through additional education and advanced training (both of these metrics exceed the success rates of their hearing peers).

In addition to building and leading the LST program, he is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at RIT/NTID and teaches both D/HH and hearing students. He strongly believes that what is pedagogically good for the D/HH students is good for the hearing students as well.  He’s been honored repeatedly by his students and works to build exciting, rigorous, and student-centered courses that prepare the students for chemistry careers beyond the classroom.  Dr. Pagano has been nationally recognized for his work and was named the United States Professor of the Year (2012-2013) by the Council for Advancement & Support of Education (CASE)/Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  He was also named to the Fulbright Specialist Roster in 2015 and, amongst many other accolades, received the 2005 Richard & Virginia Eisenhart Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching from RIT.

Outside of the classroom, Dr. Pagano is active in reaching out to D/HH middle and high school students to promote science career exploration and get them involved in activities such as the National Science Fair for D/HH students and the TechGirlz summer camp. Many of the students attending these events ultimately enroll at NTID and in science programs.  Additionally, he’s Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Science Education for Students with Disabilities and has published numerous books and articles about working with students with disabilities and underrepresented groups.  He is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society and has also authored a number of technical papers in environmental and analytical chemistry and given almost 200 presentations at technical conferences, frequently based on the productivity of his undergraduate student researchers.  Overall, Dr. Pagano’s work is significantly narrowing achievement gaps in education and employment attainment for underrepresented students in the field.

Past OUSTA winners (2010 – 2015)

2015: Marcy Towns

Dr. Marcy Towns is a Professor of Chemistry at Purdue University.

2014: Mike Jackson


Dr. Mike Jackson is a Professor of Physics at Central Washington University.


2013: Mike Klymkowski

Klymkowski Photo

Dr. Klymkowsky is a Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado Boulder. Driven by a recognition of the deficiencies in student understanding due to defects in course and curricular design, since the early 2000’s he has been involved in developing assessment methods, including the NSF funded Biology Concept Inventory, and educational materials, including a re-designed introductory molecular biology course, Biofundamentals, and an on-line laboratory course (virtuallaboratory.net).

2012: Kimberly Tanner

Kimberly Tanner

Dr. Kimberly Tanner is Associate Professor of Biology at San Francisco State University. A neurobiologist by training, Tanner is an innovative teacher who employs inquiry-based learning and interactive methods in her highly rated classes for biology majors, non-majors, and science education graduate students. She is a national leader in biology education research whose groundbreaking work has helped to define and raise the visibility of science education specialists in the higher education community.  Her current research addresses the impact of scientist-teacher partnership models, the development of novel approaches to classroom assessment, and the effectiveness of approaches to promoting gender equity in the sciences.

2011: Melanie Cooper

image of Stephanie CooperA faculty member in the Clemson University Chemistry Department since 1987, Melanie M. Cooper is the alumni distinguished professor of Chemistry there. She was also recently appointed interim chair of the Department of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson.

Her research has focused on methods to assess and improve students’ conceptual understanding and problem-solving abilities and strategies, using interventions that promote metacognitive activity. An outgrowth of this research has been the development and assessment of evidence-driven, research-based curricula, including the NSF-funded general chemistry curriculum, Chemistry, Life, the Universe, and Everything. Dr. Cooper received her undergraduate, graduate, and PhD degrees from the University of Manchester in England, and she carried out her postdoctoral work in organic chemistry before turning to chemistry education as her area of research.

2010: Robert Beichner

BeichnerDr. Robert Beichner delivered the Marjorie Gardner Lecture on Friday, March 11 at the NSTA/SCST National Meetings in San Francisco.  The title of his lecture is “The Student-Centered Active Learning Environment for Undergraduate Programs (SCALE-UP) Project.” In this talk, Dr Beichner discussed the need for reform, the SCALE-UP classroom environment, and examine the findings of studies of learning.

A recipient of numerous awards for teaching, use of educational technology and service, Dr. Beichner has made significant contributions to undergraduate science education through his innovative work with the “Student-Centered Active Learning Environment for Undergraduate Program (SCALE-UP).  The SCALE-UP project takes teaching practices that have proven effective in small classes, such as group learning, and amplifies them into classrooms for large classes. Dr. Beichner is also a national leader in publishing and scholarship. In addition to authoring nine books, including the leading introductory calculus-based physics text in the country, Dr. Beichner was founding editor of Physical Review Special Topics – Physics Education Research, a journal of the American Physical Society. Dr. Beichner received his award at the SCST Luncheon during the NSTA/SCST National Conference in Philadelphia, PA on March 20, 2010.

Past OUSTA winners (2000 – 2009)
2009: Dee Silverthorn

SilverthornThe 2009 winner of the Society for College Science Teachers (SCST) Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teacher Award (OUSTA) is Dr. Dee Silverthorn. Dr. Silverthorn is currently a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Silverthorn was selected for her innovative work in teaching physiology.  More specifically, for her efforts at increasing the use of inquiry-based teaching methods at her own University, where she has previously won 12 teaching awards, and also for helping instructors around the world learn and implement innovative teaching strategies that promote active learning.  In addition to her numerous key-note speeches and published research articles, Dr. Silverthorn served as Editor and Chief for Advanced in Physiology Education from 2001 to 2007. Dr. Silverthorn received her award at the SCST Luncheon during the NSTA/SCST National Convention in New Orleans, LA, on March 21th, 2009. Thank you to Springer for their continued support of our OUSTA Award

2008: Nancy Elwess

NancyElwessDr. Nancy Elwess is a Professor of Biology at the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Plattsburgh.

2007: Murray Jensen

MurrayJensenAt the time Dr. Murray Jensen was presented with OUSTA award, he was a Professor of Biology at Missouri State University. Since then, he has moved to the University of Minnesota.

2006: Ken Sajwan

KenSajwanDr. Ken Sajwan is a Professor and Coordinator of the Program of Environmental Science at Savannah State University.

2005: Claire Cronmiller

ClaireCronmillerDr. Clair Cronmiller is a Professor of Biology at the University of Virginia.

2004: Brian Coppola

BrianCoppolaDr. Brian Coppola is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Michigan.

2003: No winner
2002: Jerry Waldvogel
JerryWaldvogelDr. Jerry Waldvogel (1953-2009) was a Professor of Biology at Clemson University.
2001: Eleanor Siebert

EleanorSiebert_2001Dr. Eleanor Siebert was provost and academic vice president for Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles. Prior to that, she had been Professor of Chemistry and served as Chair of the college’s Department of Physical Sciences and Mathematics. She earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Duke University and a doctorate in chemistry from UCLA. Siebert was a member of the Mount St. Mary’s faculty for 38 years. She is author of Experiments for General Chemistry and Foundations for General Chemistry; she has co-edited Teaching Tips: Innovations in Undergraduate Science Teaching (2004), College Pathways to the Science Education Standards (2001) and Methods of Effective Teaching and Class Management for University and College Teachers of Science (1997). She is past president of the Society for College Science Teachers; past college director of the National Science Teachers Association; past chair of the American Chemical Society’s Committee on Public Relations and Communications; and a member of the Council Policy Committee. She served as chief reader for the Educational Testing Service AP Chemistry Program and consultant to the AP Chemistry Test Development Committee for the College Board. Siebert was a senior commissioner for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and represents the senior commission on the Association of Community Colleges and Junior Colleges, which accredits two-year institutions in California and the Pacific Islands. She began her career as a research chemist in industry and has authored numerous research articles in chemistry.

She retired in 2013.

2000: Donald French

DonFrenchDr. Don French is a Professor of Biology and Science Education at Oklahoma State University.

Past OUSTA winners (1989 – 1999)

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