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Ying Gu named the 2019 - 2020 recipient of the 2019 - 2020 Daniel R. Tershak Memorial Teaching Award
31 August 2020
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The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) Department has selected Ying Gu, Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, to receive the 2019 - 2020 Daniel R. Tershak Memorial Teaching Award. The award was established to facilitate the recognition of excellence amongst tenure-track faculty.  The Department’s Peer Teaching Evaluation Committee selected Gu for the award based on her devoted effort to improve and achieve outstanding connection with her students in both BMB 401 and 401H. 


Gu grew up in Yuyao, a small town in southeast China, with the dream of one day becoming a scientist.  In pursuit of that dream she attended Zhejiang Normal University, located in Jinhua city, Zhejiang province, China, where she earned her Bachelors of science degree in Biology.  Gu then continued her education and earned her Master of Science degree in Plant Physiology from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Plant Physiology & Ecology, located in Shanghai China.  



It was while earning her Master of Science Degree that Gu had an encounter that she refers to as the turning point in her scientific career.  Zhenbiao Yang, a professor of cell biology at the University of California, Riverside, was visiting the Institute of Plant Physiology & Ecology interviewing students on behalf of another colleague of his.  Gu just so happened to be one of those students but instead of recommending her to his colleague, he encouraged her to apply within his department as well.  She later took his advice and attended the University of California, Riverside, where she earned her Ph.D. under the guidance of her mentor, Zhenbiao Yang.

Gu’s teaching philosophy is based on her belief that everyone is born with an innate sense of curiosity and a desire to learn.  She believes that her role as a teacher is to simply stimulate her student’s learning. “Biology is an exciting and dynamic field with constantly emerging concepts and advancements in technologies,” says Gu.  “Teaching in the classroom and mentoring both undergraduate and graduate students in a laboratory setting provides great opportunities to convey basic knowledge, as well as exciting new discoveries to the next generation of scientists.”

Gu began her research career at Penn State University, and within the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, in 2010, and her teaching career in 2013 as the instructor for BMB 401.  “BMB 401 is an upper-level biochemistry course that marks the first explicitly quantitative biology course for many of our majors at Penn State,” says Gu.  “As a result, many students find this course to be one of the more difficult challenges in the core curriculum.”  In 2018 Gu transitioned her teaching from BMB 401 to BMB401H, where she has continued to stimulate her student’s ability to learn.

During this unprecedented time, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, educators around the world have struggled with developing new strategies in delivering course material to their students, while also maintaining a supportive student-teacher relationship.  Gu has met this challenge head on, engaging in several workshops focused on learning new methods of fostering community learning through a virtual environment and connecting with students.  “I cannot wait to try these new methods,” says Gu.

When asked about being named the recipient of the 2019 – 2020 Daniel R. Tershak Memorial Teaching Award, Gu simply stated “I'm grateful to all people who supported me through the years, specifically Meredith Defelice who was a tremendous help to me during my early years teaching BMB 401.  I am honored to receive this award.”

Gu’s passion towards teaching, and stimulating her students learning, and her desire to continue to connect with her students makes her a truly outstanding instructor, one the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department is proud to have as part of its Team.  

The Department congratulates Ying Gu on her outstanding achievements, and on being named the recipient of the 2019 – 2020 Daniel R. Tershak Memorial Teaching Award!

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Communications Coordinator, BMB Department