USDA National Teaching Award recipients announced

Association of Public and Land-grant Universities

Washington, D.C. – The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) recently honored S. Suzanne Nielsen of Purdue University and Ann Marie VanDerZanden of Iowa State University as recipients of the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Excellence in College and University Teaching Awards for Food and Agricultural Sciences. Five regional and two new teacher awardees were also named recipients of the 2017 Excellence in College and University Teaching Awards for Food and Agricultural Sciences. The awards, which celebrate university faculty for their use of innovative teaching methods and service to students, were presented at the 130th APLU Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.

In recognition of their scholarship, exemplary pedagogy, and dedication to instruction, the annual awards include stipends of $5,000 for the national winners and $2,000 for regional and new teacher honorees to be used for improving teaching at their respective universities.

The five regional awards were presented to: L. Suzanne Goodell of North Carolina State University; Susan K. Jacobson of the University of Florida; Robert A. Lane of Sam Houston State University; Janice Marie Siegford of Michigan State University; and Steven Andrew Zinn of the University of Connecticut. Chad T. Miller of Kansas State University and Christine Whitney Miller of the University of Florida each received best new teacher honors.

“Teaching is at the very core of public universities’ mission,” said Ian Maw, vice president of food, agriculture and natural resources at APLU. “By sparking their students’ curiosity and shaping their students’ career aspirations, educators help cultivate the next generation leaders in agricultural sciences. This year’s winners of the Excellence in College and University Teaching Awards for Food and Agricultural Sciences stand out for their tireless and innovative work to help students find success and enjoyment in their studies.”

Details on the 2017 recipients of the Excellence in College and University Teaching Awards for Food and Agricultural Sciences follows:

S. Suzanne Nielsen, Purdue University

Purdue University Food Science students have benefited for decades from Suzanne Nielsen connecting them to the realities of the food industry in the various classes she has taught. In the classroom, she is known for her clear explanations and her dedication to students and their learning. Food science students around the world studying food analysis have benefited from the numerous editions of the textbook and laboratory manual Nielsen edits. Food analysis instructors around the world access teaching resources she has created.

Nielsen has been a faculty member at Purdue for the past 35 years, including serving as department head of food science from 2003 to 2013. Prior to that, she had an active research program focused on protein chemistry, generating 93 research publications and mentoring 36 graduate students. She chaired for four years the Food Chemicals Codex Committee when it was under the National Academy of Sciences. She currently has a half-time role in the Department of Food Science, where she teaches a variety of classes and helps lead a large United States Agency for International Development project in Africa. Her other half-time role is as a faculty fellow for special initiatives in Purdue’s Office of Corporate and Global Partnerships.

Nielsen has received teaching, research, and mentoring awards from her university; teaching and achievement awards from the Institute of Food Technologists; and alumni awards from both of her alma maters, the University of Nebraska and the University of Minnesota. She earned a B.S. from the University of Nebraska and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota.

Ann Marie VanDerZanden, Iowa State University

Ann Marie VanDerZanden is a versatile and inspiring teacher. Her passion for teaching and motivation to continually improve her craft has resulted in a successful and rewarding career as a horticulture educator. Her students know she is always available to be a sounding board, provide moral support, and, in general, counsel them on issues to help them succeed at school and in life. Over the course of her career VanDerZanden has taught 21 different subject matter courses across the breadth of horticulture topics.

More recently, while director of the Iowa State University Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, her teaching focus shifted to help new faculty members develop their own teaching programs and experienced faculty become more effective teachers. The workshops she created, Moving Your Scholarly Teaching into The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and Creating an Inclusive Classroom, have become a model for many university teaching centers.

VanDerZanden has developed a robust research program in the areas of the scholarship of teaching and learning, pedagogical approaches to enhance student learning, and teaching-focused faculty development. Her excellence in teaching has earned her a number of teaching awards including university awards and regional, national, and international awards from professional organizations. In 2013, she was selected as a fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Science, the society’s highest honor. She earned her B.S. and Ph.D. from Washington State University and an M.S. from Cornell University.