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Cawthorn named professor of the year at 2008 Honors Day
GSU biology professor is award winner
Michelle CawthornWeb
Michelle Cawthorn shows off her Georgia Southern Professor of the Year award. - photo by Special

       Special Michelle Cawthorn received the Wells/Warren Professor of the Year Award at the Georgia Southern University Honors Day Convocation last week. Cawthorn is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology.

       Special to the Herald Michelle Cawthorn was presented with the Wells/Warren Professor of the Year Award at the Georgia Southern University 2008 Honors Day Convocation held at the Performing Arts Center last week.

       Cawthorn is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology. She was hired as a temporary faculty member in 1995 and received a tenure-track position in 2006.

       “I am thrilled to win this award,” Cawthorn said. “It is especially gratifying to me because it comes from students. They are, after all, the primary reason I am here.”

       In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Cawthorn is conducting research on the effectiveness of specific classroom activities on scientific literacy.

       “I love teaching, and I especially enjoy teaching non-majors and getting to know a diverse group of students,” she said. “I work hard to make the classes I teach relevant, interesting and memorable.”

       Cawthorn was awarded the Outstanding First-Year Advocate by Georgia Southern’s First-Year Experience program in 2007. That same year, she was recognized by the university’s Student Disability Resource Center for her efforts on behalf of disabled students. In 2004, she received the Gamma Beta Phi Award for Outstanding Service as Temporary Faculty Member.

      “My teaching philosophy is that scientific literacy is a critical learning objective for any science course, but especially for non-majors,” Cawthorn said. “For these students, their exposure to science in ‘school’ is limited, but in real life it’s boundless.

       “Students in my class work on scientific literacy skills simultaneously with learning science content. I believe that teachers have a responsibility to engage students and provide the means for students of many different learning styles to succeed.

       “As a teacher, I strive to encourage curiosity and critical thinking in students so that they leave the class as better learners than when they entered it.”

        The winner of the Wells/Warren Professor of the Year Award is selected annually by the University’s students. Members of the Gamma Beta Phi honor society interview the department heads of the finalists and look at student evaluations of the professors.

       The group then conducts a blind interview of the finalists before selecting the winner of the award, which is endowed by former Gamma Beta Phi advisors J. Norman and Rosalyn Wells. The award is named in honor of their parents, Nolan and Audrey Wells and Hartwell and Lucile Warren.

       Born in Dallas, Texas, Cawthorn grew up in Hampton, Va. She graduated magna cum laude from Old Dominion University with a bachelor’s degree in biology. She earned her master’s degree from Old Dominion and her Ph.D. from Bowling Green State University.

       Cawthorn taught at Ball State University before arriving at Georgia Southern. Her research interests include the population biology of small mammals. She was the first scientist to use radio-telemetry in shrews to gather information on movement and activity.

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