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College faculty honored with SOCHE Excellence Awards

By Dave Larsen

The Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education honored three University of Dayton College of Arts and Sciences faculty members with excellence awards for their scholarship, teaching and service.

Recipients of the 2019-20 SOCHE Excellence Awards are Ryan McEwan, associate professor and environmental biology program coordinator; Yvonne Sun, assistant professor of microbiology; and Shuang-Ye Wu, professor and Department of Geology chair. McEwan was featured in November on SOCHE’s awards website; Wu will be highlighted in February, followed by Sun in May.

Founded in 1967, SOCHE is a regional consortium of 22 colleges and universities in southwest Ohio. Since 1995, the organization has honored faculty and staff from its member institutions. Excellence award winners are selected based on each institution’s criteria, with special consideration of demonstrated excellence in teaching, student success, service, assessment and scholarship throughout the past academic year.

“SOCHE is proud to work with our colleges and universities in the region to recognize the best of the best faculty and staff,” said Cassie Barlow, president.

McEwan was nominated for activities that extend beyond normal service loads for faculty members. His efforts include transforming the environmental biology program; developing the new environmental research area at Old River Park; developing sustainability curriculum; and incorporating the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals into the University’s annual Brother Joseph W. Stander Symposium. In addition, McEwan’s lab has been the training ground for more than 100 undergraduate students.

“Serving as the environmental biology program coordinator is an excellent opportunity for me to work with students who are passionate about science that serves our common home,” McEwan said. “As a researcher, one of the most exciting things about working at the University of Dayton is mentoring students through the process of presenting at Stander Symposium, and so it has been an honor and thrill to be co-chair of that event.”

Sun was nominated for her excellent record in the classroom, dedication to her students and passionate pursuit of student learning. In testimonials, Sun’s students praised her use of different teaching methods throughout the semester, as well as her concern about which methods worked best for student learning.

For her part, Sun described her first year of teaching at the University as “disastrous.” She credited advice from colleagues in the Department of Biology and beyond, as well as the Ryan C. Harris Learning Teaching Center’s workshops, book club and teaching fellows program, with helping her create an authentic learner-centered experience for her students.

“Being recognized by this award means all these efforts are helping me develop in the right direction,” Sun said. “There are so many more innovations I want to bring into my teaching, from using free online textbooks to make education more affordable to integrating humanist narratives into biology education, that I will need to continue to learn and expand my perspectives. But, most importantly, this recognition means that I’m in a position to help others, like all of those who have helped me in the past four years.”

Wu was nominated for her scholarship and research collaborations with colleagues across academic disciplines. These collaborations have resulted in 37 peer-reviewed articles in high-impact journals, five book chapters and 41 peer-reviewed abstracts in national and international conferences proceedings, as well as research grants totaling $1.8 million. Wu also strives to make her research relevant to the local community, including studies on the potential impacts of climate change on extreme storms, flood risk and water resource sustainability for the Dayton region.

“The cornerstone of my research is interdisciplinary collaboration, which I believe not only leads to better science and higher productivity, but also opens up new horizons and fosters deeper understandings,” Wu said. “Professionally, I feel this award is not just the recognition of one person’s work, but an affirmation of the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in the increasingly interconnected fields of science in order to solve today’s most challenging environmental problems such as climate change.”

For more information, visit the SOCHE Excellence Awards website.

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