Wick recognized for STEM education innovation

Longtime faculty member receives national award for her work developing a mentor network to promote evidence-based teaching.
December 13, 2023

Sue Wick (center) receiving the Bruce Alberts Award for Excellence in Science Education. 

Professor Emerita Sue Wick received the Bruce Alberts Award for Excellence in Science Education from the American Society for Cell Biology earlier this month. The award goes to an individual who demonstrates innovative and sustained contributions to science education with a national impact. Wick joined the college in 1985 and retired in 2018 from her position as a member of the Plant and Microbial Biology and Biology Teaching and Learning (BTL) faculty. 

She was recognized, in part, for her role leading the National Science Foundation-funded Promoting Active Learning & Mentoring (PALM) Network. The program launched in 2017 and continued until 2022. The program has since received an additional round of funding.

PALM provided long-term mentoring in evidence-based teaching. Participants came from a wide variety of biology subdisciplines and institutions – from community colleges to private liberal arts colleges to R1 public universities – in 31 states. Over the course of the program, the program engaged 52 mentors and served 61 fellows. The program also provided funds for undergraduate research making it possible for students to engage in the work as well. 

Wick’s work with the PALM Network is just one example of excellence and innovation by the educator. David Matthes, teaching professor in the Department of Biology Teaching and Learning, who taught with Wick for many years describes her as “the best instructor I have met in my almost 25 years in academia.” She played a central role in shaping the college’s award-winning Foundations of Biology courses. She  was an early adopter of active learning, who has demonstrated leadership within the University and at a national level in training others to successfully employ evidence-based approaches to their teaching.

Wick remains active both in BTL and at the University more broadly. She chairs the Biology Teaching and Learning promotion and tenure committee and co-chairs the Faculty work group of the President's Initiative on Student Mental Health as well as the Executive Committee of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers. — Stephanie Xenos