Five University of Georgia faculty members have been named Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professors, the university’s highest recognition for excellence in instruction.
“The 2020 Meigs Professors draw on their expertise as leading scholars and researchers to engage students with innovative instruction that helps them thrive, both during their time on campus and after graduation,” said S. Jack Hu, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “The University of Georgia is one of America’s most highly regarded public universities thanks to outstanding faculty members such as these.”
The 2020 Meigs Professors are:
- Nick Fuhrman, professor of agricultural leadership, education and communication in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences;
- John Knox, professor of geography in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences;
- Puliyur MohanKumar, professor of veterinary biosciences and diagnostic imaging in the College of Veterinary Medicine;
- Richard Morrison, associate professor of chemistry in the Franklin College; and
- Andrew Owsiak, associate professor of international affairs in the School of Public and International Affairs.
Fuhrman has a passion for teaching and mentoring students. He focuses on the development of the whole student with real-world experiences such as teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking and public speaking to prepare them for career success. This is most evident through his course AGED 2001, “Teaching with Animals,” a partnership with Extra Special People, Inc., a community organization that serves youth with developmental disabilities and their families. Through this course, undergraduate students have the opportunity to teach students with special needs using animals. Fuhrman’s creation and teaching of AGED 2001 was recognized with the D.W. Brooks Diversity Award. His other honors include the CAES Early Career Teaching Award, the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Faculty Award and being named a Lilly Teaching Fellow.
Fuhrman has an impact on the national level, as well. His television series, Ranger Nick, airs on Georgia Public Broadcasting and the RFD-TV network, which reaches more than 60 million homes. He also was selected to give a TED Talk about effective teaching that has been viewed more than 163,000 times on YouTube. Fuhrman has served as the principal investigator or co-PI on more than $10 million in grant funding. Included in this funding was a $400,000 USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Teaching, Extension and Research grant used to promote teaching excellence in colleges of agriculture nationally, as well as at UGA.
Knox places a high level of importance on active learning for his students that extends beyond the classroom. He recently re-invigorated AthensGAWeather, an experiential learning platform for students studying atmospheric sciences in the department of geography. AthensGAWeather helps teach students how to use high-resolution numerical modeling and create high-quality video for weather forecasting purposes and serves over 18,000 people via social media. Outstanding teaching practices like this have earned Knox numerous recognitions, including being named among the “Best 300 Professors” by The Princeton Review. Other awards and honors include the General Sandy Beaver Teaching Professorship, the Richard B. Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the CASE/Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Georgia Award and the Edward N. Lorenz Teaching Excellence Award from the American Meteorological Society.
Knox made national headlines with the 2017 “Eclipse Blackout Between the Hedges,” one of the largest ever eclipse-related educational events. Held in Sanford Stadium, the event reached up to 20,000 attendees and 17,000 K-12 students in 20 area schools. This event earned him a Certificate of Excellence from the Clarke County Board of Education. Knox’s impact on UGA also extends to securing 18 grants totaling $1.25 million. He has more than 300 publications, which include over 60 peer-reviewed research publications, and is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.
MohanKumar teaches an anatomy course for first-year veterinary students, which contains a large amount of time-consuming content, with encouragement and innovative approaches. To help students master and develop a passion for the work, he has authored four interactive books covering concepts of anatomy that are often difficult to envision. He also has created over 200 videos of anatomy dissection. These videos are available as free downloads, which gives them a worldwide impact. MohanKumar takes his innovative teaching style a step further by offering first-year students voluntary clinical exposure at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
MohanKumar has received numerous awards, including the David Tyler Award for Innovations in Teaching, the Zoetis Distinguished Veterinary Teacher Award and the A.M. Mills Award for Outstanding Contributions to Veterinary Medicine. He also has been selected for this year’s Creative Teaching Award, which recognizes UGA faculty for excellence in developing and implementing creative teaching that extends beyond the classroom. MohanKumar has served as the principal investigator or co-PI on $10.4 million in grant funding from agencies including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Morrison is known for pushing his students beyond their current capacities in an effort to prepare them for the challenges of their chosen careers in chemistry and health care. He has made transformative changes to UGA’s organic chemistry instructional laboratories, where students participate in inquiry-based, multi-outcome experiments with unique observations and individual outcomes to represent work being done in modern research laboratories. Not only is Morrison’s curriculum internationally recognized, but he has helped to secure over $1 million to renovate the current Chemistry Building with 21st century state-of-the-art instrumentation.
Morrison has been recognized by the Golden Key National Honor Society as an outstanding professor and the American Chemistry Society as both Northeast Georgia Chemist of the Year for Research and as a recipient of the George Philbrook Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching. His UGA recognitions include the Sandy Beaver Teaching Excellence Award, the Lothar Tresp Outstanding Honors Professor, the J. Hatten Howard Award and the Student Government Association Outstanding Professor Award. Morrison has conducted laboratory research with undergraduates that was published in international and American Chemical Society journals. He has presented his research, accompanied and assisted by his undergraduate researchers, at national American Chemical Society meetings and at the Georgia Bio Innovation Summit. His research has resulted in two U.S. patents.
Owsiak has an extensive commitment to the teaching and mentoring missions of the university and a tireless dedication to the professional development of his students. He is particularly known for his active learning pedagogy through the use of simulations that appear in all the courses he teaches. Owsiak created his own nuclear simulation for his undergraduate “Crisis Diplomacy” course with the aim of allowing his students to confront the core concepts of the course directly. Additionally, with the help of a colleague, Owsiak created a free and open-source simulation game for the University System of Georgia.
Owsiak is a past recipient of the university’s Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. His other recognitions include being named a Student Veterans Resource Center Distinguished Faculty Fellow and receiving the School of Public and International Affairs Excellence in Teaching Award, the First-Year Odyssey Seminar Program Teaching Award and the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities Mentoring Award. Along with being a major journal book editor and a top producing scholar in his department, Owsiak has secured two prestigious government grants from the Department of Defense and the U.S. Institute of Peace.
The Meigs Professorship was established to underscore the university’s commitment to excellence in teaching, the value placed on the learning experiences of students and the centrality of instruction to the university’s mission. The award includes a permanent salary increase of $6,000 and a one-time discretionary fund of $1,000.
More information about the Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professorships is at provost.uga.edu/resources/faculty-resources/professorships/josiah-meigs-distinguished-teaching-professorships/.