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Funk and Strauss Receive 2005 C.I. Noll Awards for Excellence in Teaching

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Raymond L. Funk, professor of chemistry, and James A. Strauss, senior lecturer in biology, were selected recently as recipients of the 2005 C.I. Noll Awards for Excellence in Teaching. Sponsored by the Eberly College of Science Student Council and Alumni Society, the award is designed to recognize faculty members who have taken a special interest in students and who, through their interaction with students, have had a positive impact upon them.

Raymond Funk, professor of chemistry, is interested in the development of new methodology and strategies for the synthesis of complex organic molecules that possess useful biological or medicinal properties. He has taught a number of undergraduate and graduate organic-chemistry courses. His teaching style is interactive and focuses both on giving direction and on providing guidance while encouraging his students to develop their own problem-solving skills. He is best known for his enthusiam for the subject material that, in turn, stimulates students to develop their own understanding of the abstract concepts and numerous chemical reactions. He also brings undergraduate students into his laboratory to participate in research projects that provide valuable experience to augment classroom learning.

Outside of the classroom, Funk has been chair of the Department of Chemistry graduate-student admissions committee for many years and has served on the Eberly College of Science graduate fellowship committee. He also has participated in seminar, faculty search, and safety committees for his department.

Funk received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas in 1973 and a doctoral degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1978. He was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Pittsburgh from 1978 to 1979 and was a member of the faculty at the University of Nebraska from 1979 to 1987. He joined the Penn State faculty in 1987 as an associate professor and was promoted to professor in 1989.

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James Strauss, a senior lecturer in the Department of Biology, has developed a wide array of anatomy and physiology-based courses, and has taught both upper-level and lower-level courses. Most recently, he has taught upper-level courses of mammalian physiology, histology, and medical embryology; as well as general-education courses in human physiology, human anatomy, and the biology of aging. He designed and taught a first-year seminar in premedicine on planning and time-management skills. Known by many students as a “good storyteller,” Strauss combines topic organization with unique explanations of biological processes using language and examples that are easily understood. Strauss has one of Goggle's top-rated web sites for anatomy that is essentially a photographic atlas used by college and universities across the country. He also is involved in web-based teaching and has authored two courses on the Human Body and the Biology of Aging that currently are offered through Penn State's World Campus.

Outside of the classroom, Strauss has served on the preprofessional advisory committee since 1993, and has been an advisor for the biology program since 1994. He has been a panel member for the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science since 1996. He has served on the Penn State Faculty Senate since 2000, where we serves on the course and curriculum committee and the undergraduate education committee. He is the current Eberly College of Science representative to the Senate Council—the governing body of the Faculty Senate. He was a panel member for the Graduate Student Instructional Development Program in 1991 and was a member of a committee on instructional development for instructors and faculty in 1997. He served as interim director of the premedicine program and chair of the preprofessional advisory committee from 1995 to 1997 and again from 1999 to 2000. He served on the Eberly College of Science committee on advising in 1997 and was advisor to the Eberly College of Science Student Council from 2000 to 2003. In the Department of Biology, he was coordinator of the Freshman Testing, Counseling, and Advising Program (FTCAP) from 1994 to 2004, and he was chair of the undergraduate-student awards committee from 1998 to 1999.

At Penn State, Strauss received a bachelor’s degree in 1982, a master’s degree in 1987, and a doctoral degree in 1992. He joined the faculty in the Department of Biology in 1992.

The C.I. Noll Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented annually to faculty members and instructors in the Eberly College of Science who demonstrate a record of excellence both in teaching and in their interactions with students. Instituted in 1972 and named in honor of Clarence I. Noll, dean of the college from 1965 to 1971, the award is the college’s highest recognition for teaching.

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