N.C. A&T Distinguished Professor Receives UNC BOG 2022 Excellence in Teaching Award 

By Jordan Howse / 03/10/2022 College of Science and Technology, Biology

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (March 11, 2022) – The University of North Carolina Board of Governors has selected outstanding faculty members at each of the public institutions to receive the 2022 Awards for Excellence in Teaching. 

At North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Nathan F. Simms Distinguished Associate Professor Robert H. Newman was selected for the prestigious award. 

A professor in the College of Science and Technology (COST) Department of Biology, Newman said his teaching philosophy is built upon three core elements: 1) clear and engaging classroom instruction that promotes student participation, sparks intellectual exploration, and leads to in-depth understanding of biological concepts; 2) experiential laboratory training that challenges students to think critically and pursue new avenues of scientific discovery; and 3) effective mentorship that promotes student success through open and honest communication with his students. 

“Dr. Newman has been a tremendous asset to the College of Science and Technology,” said Abdellah Ahmidouch, Ph.D., COST Dean. “His work on cellular pathway signaling could lead to medical breakthroughs and has yielded millions in research dollars. He works extremely well with students both graduate and undergraduate. The hands-on experience and the skills they developed at his lab have allowed many of them to get to prestigious graduate programs or medical schools.” 

Established by the board in 1993 to highlight the importance of teaching, the awards recognize the extraordinary contributions of faculty members, system-wide. Each of the winners will receive a commemorative bronze medallion and a $12,500 cash prize.  

“These instructors represent the finest our state has to offer, and we are proud to honor and acknowledge them with these awards,” said UNC System Peter Hans. “My thanks to these faculty members for their contributions to the high-quality education our students receive every day.” 

Newman joined the Department of Biology in 2012 and has taught a range of undergraduate and graduate courses. He has developed three courses and redesigned three courses to incorporate active learning and authentic research experiences into the curriculum. He has worked diligently to develop a research program that maximizes undergraduate student participation and scientific development through independent research.  

He also helped found the university’s first international Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) synthetic biology team, serving as the team mentor since its inception. Synthetic biology is an emerging biological discipline that uses molecular biology approaches to “forward engineer” biological systems to perform novel functions. To date, this program has provided research experiences to more than 35 undergraduate students and five high school students, leading to presentations at 11 scientific conferences. 

Newman said that, as a mentor, he believes it is essential that he provide students with open and honest assessment of the situation, even if that means asking tough questions or helping the student confront hard truths. 

“I have a special sense of satisfaction knowing that the guidance and advice that I have given these students will positively impact both their lives and their careers,” Newman wrote in his nomination packet. “As I continue to grow as an educator, I am excited to share the knowledge and skills that I have obtained in the classroom, in the laboratory, and as a mentor with undergraduate and graduate students who are in the early stages of their scientific careers, as well as with postdocs and even junior faculty members as they develop their research programs at N.C. A&T.” 

Media Contact Information: jmhowse@ncat.edu

All News