Professor of Biology Chris Gillen has been selected to receive the M. Patricia Morse Award for Excellence and Innovation in Science Education, given annually by the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB). The award honors those who have accomplished significant achievements in science education.
Gillen has taught at Kenyon since 1997. In that time, he has led numerous students in successful research endeavors in his lab, developed a strong scientific writing curriculum within the Department of Biology and boosted efforts to recruit and retain underrepresented students in the sciences. In 2002, he won the Kenyon College Junior Trustee Teaching Excellence Award.
“The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology is a place where people really care about teaching and education, and that’s what makes this award so meaningful,” Gillen said. “I credit the department and division I’m in, along with colleagues across the College, with making a big difference in my teaching.”
In addition to his work inside the classroom, Gillen has served as chair of the Biology Department, the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program, the Natural Sciences Division and the Curricular Policy Committee.
“Dr. Chris Gillen was a standout nominee for the award,” said Bram Lutton, chair of the SICB’s Education Council and an associate professor at Endicott College. “Dr. Gillen has had a transformative impact on educational practices at Kenyon College and other Ohio-based academic and medical institutions, as well as on the national stage. His accomplishments have impacted undergraduate education, science writing for the general public, and teaching scientific writing for physicians and biomedical researchers.”
Gillen was nominated for the award by Professor of Biology and Neuroscience Haruhiko Itagaki, with support from numerous colleagues in the Biology Department. The award was announced in SICB’s fall newsletter. Gillen will be honored at SICB’s national conference in January, and he will write an article to be published in the spring SICB newsletter.
“Chris combines deep experiential knowledge as an innovative scientific educator with what he likes to call ‘the beginner’s mind’ — that open and enthusiastic mindset that we all have when we discover something new about the world or about ourselves,” wrote Drew Kerkhoff, associate professor and chair of the Biology Department, in a letter supporting Gillen’s nomination. “All too often, we lose that rosy glow as the ambiguities and realities of our discovery set in, but Chris exercises and cultivates that sense of wonder so that it somehow resists atrophy.”