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Center for Teaching Excellence

Female Professor in Class

Michael J. Mungo 2009 Undergraduate Teaching Award Winners Panel


What makes a teacher excellent? Why do some of us inspire students to work hard, while others inspire students to skip class? This seminar engages the 2009 winners of the Michael J. Mungo Undergraduate Teaching Award in a panel discussion about good teaching. Panelists share teaching strategies that work for them and have contributed to their success as members of the University of South Carolina faculty. The conversation is facilitated by Frenché Brewer, USC’s Broadcast Coordinator and the voice of Carolina Minute.

About the Panelist

Elise Blackwell is Associate Professor in the Department of English. Her areas of interest include creative writing and contemporary fiction. William Rivers, Chair of the Department of English Language and Literature, states that Elise is an exceptionally talented and devoted teacher. As a novelist she writes with a special grace and poise that pulls readers, irresistibly and delightedly, into her plots and characters. Clearly, in her teaching she is working the same magic as she helps her students develop their own talents and commitment to their art.

John Lavigne is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. His research interests include molecular recognition, supramolecular chemistry, sensors, materials, and bio-organic and physical organic chemistry. He teaches the largest class of organic chemistry offered by the department, which typically includes 150-180 students and consistently has large numbers of undergraduates working on research projects. Most of his undergraduate lab students have stayed for multiple semesters and two have chosen to stay for 3 years. To date, fifteen of his research publications have undergraduates as co-authors.

David Simmons is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology with a joint appointment in the Arnold School of Public Health. His research focuses on the relationship between human rights abuses and health outcomes for Haitian agricultural workers, or braceros, in the Dominican Republic. His department chair, Ann Kingsolver, states that Dr. Simmons has demonstrated consistent commitment to his teaching and mentoring activities and has found creative ways to combine research, teaching, and service, as in his ongoing direction of undergraduate service learning opportunities in a community of Haitian agricultural workers.

Stephen Thompson 
Dr. Thompson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Instruction and Teacher Education. He teaches science methods courses and graduate level science education courses. His research interests, and publication history, center on elementary and middle level science teacher professional development, nature-based inquiry, and scientist and engineer collaborations with K-12 schools. His current projects include research and curriculum development related to the teaching and learning of interrelated plant processes (photosynthesis, cellular respiration and transpiration). Dr. Thompson has received over 6 million dollars in grant funding to support his work with elementary and middle level science teachers. He has also acted as principal investigator and/or co-principal investigator on funded projects totaling over 10.2 million dollars.