Campus News

Five graduate students receive teaching awards

Each year, the University of Georgia recognizes graduate students who have demonstrated superior teaching skills and contributed to teaching beyond their own classroom responsibilities through the Excellence in Teaching Awards administered by the Graduate School and the Outstanding Teaching Awards administered by the Office of the Vice President for Instruction.

The winners of this year’s Graduate School Excellence in Teaching Award are Meghan Barnes (language and literacy education), J. Aaron Harris (cellular biology), Caitlin Ishibashi (plant biology), Haley O’Steen (finance) and Marcela Reales Visbal (Romance languages).

Barnes, a teaching assistant for the English education program for the past four years, has taught three different courses within the program. She introduced a community-based component to her courses, partnering university students with local high school students and requiring her university students to learn about, from and with local community members.

Harris continues to make the most of his teaching opportunities in the cellular biology department. He has taught a number of diverse courses ranging from introductory laboratory courses to upper-level lecture courses. He also was selected to teach a seminar course to graduate students that prepares them to teach at a university level. In his teaching, Harris uses a number of pedagogies to promote the students’ curiosity and develop critical thinking skills that can be applied long after they have left his class.

Ishibashi, a doctoral candidate in the plant biology department, has taught various biology courses since 2013. She also co-designed and co-taught two new classes at UGA: a graduate seminar, “Communicating Science,” and an undergraduate course, “Plant Based Solutions to Societal and Environmental Challenges.” Her primary goal in the classroom is to inspire others to enjoy and appreciate the process of learning. She works to create an inclusive environment in which students are excited to participate.

O’Steen has taught financial management and financial modeling to juniors and seniors in the Terry College of Business since 2014. She coordinates the other teaching assistants in the finance department and has taught traditional courses as well as an online course for the UGA online BBA degree. Her goal in the classroom is to encourage engagement, and whether her pupils plan to get jobs in finance or pursue research, she is actively involved in working with them all.

Reales Visbal is a doctoral candidate in Hispanic studies in the Romance languages department. She has taught and led discussion sessions for Spanish language and Latin American literature courses and has participated as a teaching assistant in numerous study abroad and Spanish language immersion programs. She strives to provide students with multiple paths to learning by creating lessons that incorporate relevant, diverse and creative materials and encourage students to become active learners and collaborators.

In addition to these five graduate students receiving the Excellence in Teaching Award, 120 graduate students were honored with an Outstanding Teaching Award.

The complete list of winners and nominees for the Excellence in Teaching and Outstanding Teaching Awards is at