Amie Boal, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology as well as chemistry, has been honored with the 2020 C.I. Noll Award for Excellence in Teaching by the Eberly College of Science Alumni Society. Instituted in 1972 and named in honor of Clarence I. Noll, dean of the college from 1965 to 1971, the award is the highest honor for undergraduate teaching in the college. Students, faculty members, and alumni nominate outstanding faculty members who best exemplify the key characteristics of a Penn State educator, and a committee of students selects the award winners from the group of nominees.
Boal’s primary goal in teaching is to help students develop skills to identify problems through collaboration with peers, elucidate its molecular basis, and design a solution.
“The part I loved most about Dr. Boal’s class was her incredible skill of simplifying complex material and transforming it into something that can be easily understood,” said one of Boal’s students. “Her lectures were also remarkably interesting and engaging because she constantly shared real-life, relevant examples of the course material.”
In her undergraduate courses, Boal uses part of each session to encourage students to think about biochemistry problems that are present in their day-to-day lives. This critical thinking and problem solving has led to conversations in office hours and how in classroom concepts can be applied. Boal believes that one of the most important things that science educators can teach young people is how to critically analyze data.
“My instructional activities have allowed me to recruit a large number of talented undergraduates to participate in my research program, particularly from underrepresented groups,” said Boal. “At a large institution, it can be challenging for students to identify mentors, and I have made a concerted effort to facilitate these opportunities.”
Boal joined Penn State as an assistant professor in 2013 and was promoted to associate professor in 2019. Prior to that, she was a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Molecular Biosciences at Northwestern University. She earned a doctoral degree in chemistry and chemical engineering at the University of California Institute of Technology in 2008, and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Pomona College in 2002.