Inaugural Collegiate Lecturer Ammerlaan
Thursday, February 02, 2012
Dr. Marc Ammerlaan has been selected as one of three inaugural Collegiate Lecturers at U-M’s Ann Arbor campus, for his achievements and many contributions to the education of U-M students.
In recognition of his accomplishments, Ammerlaan will receive $2,000 for each of the first two years and will be given the honorary title "Collegiate Lecturer." Ammerlaan will be recognized at a reception (to be announced) commemorating the inaugural year of the Collegiate Lecturer program.
Ammerlaan was nominated by his two department chairs and six faculty members who work with him. The Provost selected awardees to recognize U-M lecturers who have demonstrated a sustained record of excellence in teaching, learning and service or other contributions to the University.
“I was surprised and honored to be recognized by the university in this way,” said Ammerlaan. “Even moreso when I found out how many people were involved in the nomination process. Working with students is the most rewarding part of my job. I like to ask them questions and prod them to think their way to the answers. The dedicated staff and enthusiastic GSIs we have here make sure that our intro courses are challenging. This philosophy derives from some of the outstanding faculty I encountered in my first years here. Professor Hiroshi Ikuma in particular, expounded on designing lab exercises so they were open-ended and didn't always give predictable results. It is a small measure of gratitude to be able to name this award after him.”
Ammerlaan joined the Department of Biology in 1995 and is now a lecturer for the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. “He has always been, and continues to be an active, valued and integral participant in the Program in Biology’s undergraduate educational mission as developed by both departments,” wrote Professors and Chairs Deborah Goldberg, EEB, and Pamela Raymond, MCDB.
“He is engaged with the student body, and with individual courses, on a number of different levels,” they continued. “The most influential courses in the biological sciences in LSA are the Introductory Biology sequence for science majors (Bio 171, 172, 173), with a combined average enrollment of almost 4,200 undergraduate students per year over the past three years. In 2007, Introductory Biology was completely reorganized by converting the one-term course (Bio 162) into three new courses Bio 171 (EEB), Bio 172 (MCDB), and Bio 173 (Biology Lab). Dr. Ammerlaan was a key member of the committee that planned this major curricular change, and he designed and has subsequently taught the Introductory Biology Laboratory course. He is also responsible for developing and teaching the laboratory sections in Bio 207 Microbiology.”
“The consistent success of the laboratory portion of Bio 207 and the very positive comments made about it by students over the years are due, I believe, essentially wholly to Dr. Ammerlaan’s skill, guidance and dedication,” wrote Professor Paul Dunlap, EEB.
“The new lab exercises that he (and Dr. Jo Kurdziel) developed for the current introductory biology lab are more project-based, and represent a sound and challenging lab course,” wrote Professor Laura Olsen, director of the Program in Biology.
“Marc does everything from write and design the lab experiments and lab practical exams to digging in the mud from the banks of the Huron River, in the dead of winter, to gather enough mud for each group of students,” wrote Professors Kenneth Cadigan and Lyle Simmons, MCDB.
He supervises a large cadre of graduate student instructors and more recently, he has incorporated undergraduate teaching assistants into Bio 173. “He is strongly committed to mentoring both GSI and UTA students and plays a major role in helping them to develop teaching skills and pedagogy,” wrote Goldberg and Raymond. His “exceptional mentoring skills are widely recognized, and he is often paired with new professors or lecturers during their first term of teaching to provide guidance and administrative help.”
Ammerlaan was selected as a Teagle Foundation Fellow in 2009-10 to examine the way students learn, funded by a grant through the U-M Center for Research and Learning on Teaching. He also won the LSA Excellence in Education Award in 1997.
“One has only to talk with Dr. Ammerlaan for a few minutes to appreciate his deep passion for teaching. When Marc lectures, he does a fantastic job! Marc has a great sense for how to explain and present complex information in a way that makes it accessible to sophomore level students,” Cadigan and Simmon’s letter states.
“Speaking as a former associate chair, my job was made much easier by Dr. Ammerlaan’s breadth of knowledge and flexibility,” wrote Cadigan.
Ammerlaan volunteers his time to supervising a team of students participating in the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition. “This process greatly enriches the experience of participating undergraduates far beyond the classroom and stimulates some of them to pursue research-oriented careers,” wrote Professor Xiaoxia Lin, professor of chemical engineering. “For the 2011 competition season, Marc stepped up as the team’s main faculty advisor. Their work earned a bronze medal at America’s Regional Competition in Indianapolis in October. I have been very impressed by his extraordinary enthusiasm and responsibility for undergraduate education.”
“Marc can quickly assess where students will have difficulties as he covers complicated material, and he is proactive about preventing confusion,” wrote Dr. Lynn Carpenter, a lecturer in EEB and MCDB. “Despite all of Marc’s teaching commitments, he finds time to provide service to the university through an active role in the Lecturer’s Employee Organization. He truly has the pulse of the lecturers at the university and he does his best to make sure they are being treated and compensated fairly. It has become obvious that he is a true example of teaching at its finest and a shining star among lecturers. I cannot think of anyone who is more deserving of the title “Collegiate Lecturer.” It is also fitting that he should be in the first cohort to receive this honor.”
In this article: