Meredith Defelice, teaching professor and associate department head for undergraduate affairs in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, has been named a recipient of the 2021 Distinguished Service Award. The award was established in 1978 to recognize faculty and staff who have made significant and outstanding leadership and service contributions to the Eberly College of Science over a sustained period of time.
Defelice was nominated for her many efforts to improve pedagogy and the undergraduate experience in the department and the college. As associate head for undergraduate affairs in the department, she has driven innovation in the undergraduate curriculum, improved morale of the faculty toward teaching, and helped to maintain undergraduate advising at a high level. She chaired the Eberly College of Science Undergraduate Education Advisory Committee and is a board member of the Center for Excellence in Science Education, where she actively promotes pedagogical excellence in the college. In addition to her formal duties, Defelice helped develop and facilitates the Evidence Based Teaching Academy, offered each year to Penn State faculty, and regularly teaches workshops at New Faculty Orientation. She was a major player in developing a pedagogy course for the Learning Assistant program, and in preparing successful applications for the accreditation of the Biochemistry major from the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and for an award from the Beckman Scholars Program, which will provide the department with funds and training opportunities for promising undergraduates.
“Meredith has had a continuously positive impact on the experience of both faculty and undergraduate students within the department and the college,” said Wendy Hanna-Rose, professor and head of biochemistry and molecular biology. “She is a true champion for higher education with a tireless commitment to serving our University.”
Defelice has been recognized with several Penn State teaching honors, including the George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2014, the Penn State Center for Excellence in Science Education Fellowship in 2013, and the Paul M. Althouse Teaching Award in 2012.
Prior joining the Penn State faculty, Defelice served as a research assistant professor from 2008 to 2009 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From 2003 to 2007 she was a postdoctoral fellow in the SPIRE program at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she received training and experience in both research and teaching. She earned a doctoral degree in cell biology at Duke University in 2002 and a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at Occidental College in 1997.