Dr. Suparna Mukhopadhyay, lecturer in biology, has been recognized as 2019 Faculty Innovator of the Year by the Institute of Learning and Teaching Excellence (ILTE).
“Dr. M,” as she is known to her students, was chosen from among a field of eight colleagues from across the disciplines, each of whom was the subject of an in-depth profile on Campus News.
“Innovation is vital for classrooms as our student body comprises students who come from various background with varied training and abilities,” Mukhopadhyay said. “Innovation keeps students engaged in class and enhances student learning.”
Last year Mukhopadhyay received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) to implement a unique proposal for high-impact practices (HIP) in first year courses.
She designed a project that gave first-year students in L102 (Evolution, Ecology and Species Diversity) the opportunity to work with native fish specimens from the IU Southeast Fish and Mussel Collection. These native fish—over 60 species—were collected in a tributary of the Ohio River in the 1970s but were never inventoried or catalogued.
Given only the specimen, its species name and the location of its capture, the students established the current ecological distribution, phylogeny and taxonomy, and took photos for inventory, cataloguing and digitization. They gathered information on feeding and mating habits, changes in range over time, and migration patterns.
In documenting these animals for the first time, Mukhopadhyay’s freshmen made a serious contribution to the field.
In recognizing Mukhopadhyay’s achievement, Dr. Robin Morgan, ILTE director, praised her the many knock-on effects of her innovation.
“Suparna is engaged in a high impact practice with those students who are least likely to ever see a high impact practice—first-year students—which is truly innovative! ” Morgan said. “We also liked how much impact her efforts had for student engagement, student success, and that the students work had a significant impact on the profession. I’m not sure it gets much better than that.”
Mukhopadhyay was gratified that the award acknowledged both the practice she introduced and the impact it had on student learning.
“I hope this award encourages other faculty members on campus to be innovative and to implement various techniques in their classroom to facilitate student engagement and learning,” Mukhopadhyay said.
Homepage photo: Dr. Suparna Mukhopadhyay (r), lecturer in biology, receives the award for Faculty Innovator of the Year from Dr. Uric Dufrene, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. Photo by Rosezona Bowden.