Phi Beta Kappa student awards for best instructor and best mentor go to science faculty

Congratulations to senior chemistry instructor Daniel Myles for winning the very first Oregon State Phi Beta Kappa Society Best University Instructor award and to biochemistry and biophysics professor Kevin Ahern for winning the first Best Mentor/Advisor award!

In more good news, College of Science Dean Sastry G. Pantula and Distinguished University Professor and marine biologist Jane Lubchenco were recognized as honorary members of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

Senior Instructor of Chemistry Daniel Myles (left) named Best University Instructor.

In 2015, Oregon State was awarded a chapter to the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s oldest, most widely known, and most prestigious academic honor society. The inaugural class of Phi Beta Kappa students established three awards in 2017 to bestow annually to recognize faculty and staff who promote lifelong learning and enhance the educational experience at OSU.

The Best University Instructor award recognizes “an exemplary faculty member who excels in creating an environment conducive to quality learning. They go above and beyond to include students and enhance the university experience. They accommodate a variety of learning styles and contribute to the liberal arts and sciences.”

Daniel Myles is a renowned teacher who has won many awards, including three “Professor of the Quarter” awards from the OSU Panhellenic Executive Council; the 2013 Fred Horne Award for Excellence in Teaching Science in the College of Science; the 2011 James H. Krueger Faculty Teaching Award in the Department of Chemistry as well as numerous other awards.

One student’s comment on Myles’ Phi Beta Kappa award typifies his many accolades:

“He was the only reason I enjoyed and for through organic chemistry!! Definitely one of my favorite teachers.”

The Best Mentor/Advisor award recognizes an advisor “devoted to assisting students in finding an educational path most suited to their unique talents and interests.” Kevin Ahern shares the award this year with College of Agricultural Sciences Head Advisor Nick Fleury.

Biochemistry & Biophysics professor Kevin Ahern (left) and Agricultural Sciences advisor Nick Fleury (right) share Best Mentor/Advisor award.

In addition to teaching many of the survey courses required in the life sciences, Ahern serves as the Head Advisor for biochemistry and biophysics students. Throughout the years, he has been on the forefront of making the study of life sciences more accessible to students at Oregon State, by expanding the use of technology in the classroom and offering many survey courses on OSU’s Ecampus.

Ahern and his wife, senior biochemistry and biophysics instructor Indira Rajagopal, have published three free electronic textbooks for online learners worldwide. Ahern is an ardent advocate of using technology and digital media to enhance deep scientific learning and engagement in the undergraduate classroom, and his downloadable digital textbooks and medical school guide are significant steps towards expanding access and cutting costs for students.

Congratulations to Myles and Ahern for your a-beaver-and-beyond dedication and excellence in teaching and advising!

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