Apr 20, 2018
Since 1964, Humboldt State has honored outstanding faculty. Robert W. Zoellner, Department of Chemistry, Courtney Otto, Department of Biological Sciences, and Julia L. Alderson, Department of Art, are the recipients of the 2017-18 Distinguished Faculty Awards.
Robert W. Zoellner, Department of Chemistry, Outstanding Professor Award recipient
Robert W. Zoellner, Department of Chemistry, Outstanding Professor Award recipient, uses his passion for teaching to ensure the success of students at Humboldt State. During his 19-year career at HSU, Zoellner has made significant and lasting effects on students.
Described as an incredible mentor for undergraduate students, Zoellner has co-authored peer-reviewed publications with more than 30 undergraduate students, an opportunity that helps them find jobs and graduate school acceptance after graduation.
Zoellner has served as the department chair of both Chemistry and Physics & Astronomy. He was elected to the University Faculty Personnel Committee, the Professional Leave Committee, the Faculty Senate, and the Standards and Criteria for Retention, Tenure, and Promotion Committee. His dedication to his profession is evident in his efforts as a reviewer for seven journals, a textbook publisher, and the Petroleum Research Fund.
Zoellner’s performance in the areas of teaching, research and creative activities, and service has increased student success in chemistry courses and created research opportunities for students.
One student says Zoellner helps them “to not only better understand chemistry, but also the world in which we live,” and that he is “incredible at bringing out the beauty of chemistry.”
Courtney Otto, Department of Biological Sciences, Excellence in Teaching Award recipient
Courtney Otto, Department of Biological Sciences, Excellence in Teaching Award recipient, brings dedication and clarity to botany and science education students. In 12 years working for the University, Otto has developed a reputation as someone who can instill passion while navigating the complex study of botany.
“I became very engaged after we started learning about vascular plants that we see around campus all the time,” one student writes. “Otto made it very interesting and I think about plants in a new way now!”
Otto’s enthusiasm, high standards, and teaching effectiveness are apparent in everything she does.
“I can attest to the fact that students who enroll in Plant Taxonomy after taking her course—hundreds of them by this point—are well- prepared and enthusiastic about plants,” one colleague says. “And I can state, without hyperbole, that I have literally never heard anything but praise from her former students.”
Otto is a professional field botanist and has worked for the Cultural Resources Facility, which monitors rare plants throughout California. Through this work, Otto remains current in plant taxonomy as well as state and federal regulations related to plants. This real-world experience helps Otto deliver a state-of-the-art course to students and helps her advise students on the best ways to achieve their career goals.
Julia L. Alderson, Department of Art, Outstanding Service Award recipient
Julia L. Alderson, Department of Art, Outstanding Service Award recipient, has advocated for and committed to faculty development through ongoing service to the campus community.
Her efforts and advocacy for teaching excellence as an institutional priority and commitment impact student learning. She has served as the Quality Learning & Teaching (QLT) Faculty Lead and is currently the Faculty Associate of HSU’s new Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL). She helped launch an awareness campaign of HSU’s version of the QLT, focused on inclusive best practices in design and facilitation across all learning formats.
Department of Art Chair Heather Madar says Alderson “is a key faculty leader on campus whose influence is hard to overstate. She works tirelessly for the institution and for the art department and is committed to student success. She has also provided significant leadership to major HSU initiatives such as co-chairing the Student Success Alliance with the Provost, through which she is currently helping work on the Strategic Enrollment Management Plan.”
Alderson is also an excellent teacher who is greatly appreciated by her students and her peers. She has taught 15 different undergraduate courses ranging from general education to upper division courses in her area of Art History.