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Faculty Honored at College Awards Banquet

The 2019 College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Awards banquet took place Thursday, December 5 at the Holiday Inn Downtown. From Diversity Leadership to awards in research, advising, and teaching, the annual awards banquet honors faculty excellence in all areas of the college mission.

Elizabeth Derryberry, Charlie Kwit, and Beth Schussler received awards for their work in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

“As we recognize particularly outstanding faculty this evening, I want to thank all of our faculty in the college, individually and collectively, for everything you do— your teaching, research, service on college and university committees, thesis committees, and tenure and promotion committees, and service to the public through community engagement,” said Theresa Lee, dean of the college and emcee for the awards ceremony. “A college can be no greater or stronger than its faculty and the College of Arts and Sciences is a college of excellence because each of you has a passion for our profession and you work selflessly to make our students, departments and university the best they can be.”


Elizabeth Derryberry, associate professor, received a Mid-Career Award for Research and Creative Achievement. Derryberry’s research focuses on passerine bird evolution and bird songs – important topics that are notoriously difficult to study. Her exciting project on the effects of human-mediated noise in urban environments on bird song demonstrate both changes in song parameters in response to noise and consequences for ecosystem fitness. Derryberry is the author of more than 50 highly cited papers and an associate editor for two prestigious journals: Evolution and Journal of Animal Behavior. Her work is top-notch, broad-thinking, impactful science at its best. She is an outstanding student mentor and passionate about her outreach to increase opportunities for girls and women in science.


Charlie Kwit, professor and joint faculty in EEB and the Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries in the Herbert College of Agriculture, received the Academic Outreach Award for Teaching. His work to promote natural history knowledge in the Southeast exemplifies academic outreach in teaching. This year, he received a grant to increase HBCU representation to the Southeastern Chapter of the Ecological Society of America and support students engaged in the work of the Society. He also organized a session at the annual ESA meeting that spotlighted the biodiversity of the Southeast and the challenges we face in maintaining that rich biological heritage. Kwit also fosters UT students in outreach through clubs and courses. Students in his class experience the very best of what is intended as part of the new Experience Learning efforts. They see the utility of what they are learning, enriching their engagement with the material, while also helping to build relationships between UT and the community that strengthen the institution.


Beth Schussler, professor, received the James R. and Nell W. Cunningham Teaching Award, the college’s highest teaching honor. There are no specific requirements listed for the award, but there are some things that are typical of the winners. One, excellence in the classroom. Schussler is highly praised by students and peers for her work in some of the more demanding biology courses. Two, contributions to excellence in others. Schussler supervised the lecturers and GTAs in the general biology courses, and helped train the GTAs, which came from all three of the departments in the Division of Biology. Finally, contributions to teaching beyond their courses and department. Schussler has organized workshops on teaching for STEM departments, and continues to be involved with nation-wide efforts and grants helping to improve biology and STEM instruction.

Congratulations to our Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology faculty award winners.