Lakeland biology professor wins 2011 Underkofler Teaching Award
General - posted on 4/7/2011
Lakeland College's Paul Pickhardt, an assistant professor of biology, is the 2011 winner of the annual Underkofler Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.
Pickhardt, a Sheboygan resident who is in his fifth year as a member of Lakeland's faculty, is Lakeland's 20th winner of the Underkofler, an award that recognizes outstanding performance in undergraduate teaching.
The Underkofler Award was presented on April 6 at Lakeland's Honors Convocation Banquet, which honors academic accomplishments of students and faculty.
Pickhardt was hailed for his love of biology, and the success he has getting his students to share in his enthusiasm. Students said Pickhardt demands hard work, but he's one of Lakeland's most approachable and supportive instructors.
"Paul loves to teach, and he loves what he teaches," said Sarah Neuman, a senior biology and music major from Campbellsport. "Whether he's talking about his Peace Corps experience in Kiribati or netting Mysis shrimp from a lake in northern Wisconsin, Paul makes excellent use of his research and life experiences to enrich his classroom teaching."
Katie Koch, a junior biology major from Mequon, is among the many students who receive frequent emails from Pickhardt about graduate school and internship experiences. She served an internship at the Chicago Botanical Gardens last summer, and is working with Pickhardt to apply for several opportunities for this summer.
"Paul knows so many credible scientists, and he has a way of finding out what incredible opportunities exist for students," Koch said.
Pickhardt has actively created hands-on experiences for students both in the classroom and out. Twice he has partnered with Greg Smith, an associate professor of biology, to take Lakeland students to Belize for 15 days in May to study rainforest and marine ecology.
"In the classroom, he continually uses real-world examples to illustrate the material covered in lectures by using recent newspaper and magazine articles to show the relevance of science in current events," Smith said.
"Paul makes use of field trips, and designs labs which are inquiry driven, allowing students to design experiments, collect data, analyze results and present their findings. It is so much easier for students to learn from a teacher who really loves what they teach. He truly and deeply loves biology."
Before coming to Lakeland, Pickhardt was a post-doctoral research assistant at Stony Brook, N.Y., University for four years. From 1995-2002, he was at Dartmouth College on a Dartmouth Graduate Fellowship.
He has worked as a research limnologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, an aquatics research technician for the University of Wisconsin's Center for Limnology and he was a Peace Corps volunteer from 1991-93.
He has a bachelor's degree in science education from UW-Madison and a doctorate in biology from Dartmouth.
The Underkofler Award is presented through the Alliant Energy Foundation and the Wisconsin Foundation for Independent Colleges, Inc. The Underkofler Endowment Fund was created in honor of past Wisconsin Power & Light president and chairman James R. Underkofler to recognize his 48 years of service to the utility industry.
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