Campus: San Diego State University -- January 14, 2004

SDSU Student Named Top Biotech Teaching Assistant In California State University System

San Diego State University Chemistry doctoral student Julia Schafer has been named the top biotech teaching assistant in the 23 campus California State University system and will receive the Crellin Pauling Student Teaching Assistant Award in San Jose this weekend.

The California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) presents this annual award to a graduate student for excellence in teaching subjects related to biotechnology. Schafer will receive the award at CSUPERB’s 16th annual Biotechnology Symposium, being held January 16-18 at the San Jose Doubletree Hotel.

“Julia is reflective of the incredible collection of more than 450 biotechnology teaching assistants across the CSU, who as part of their training provide such an important role to the education of science majors,” said A. Stephen Dahms, CSUPERB Executive Director.

Schafer received her master’s degree in Chemistry at SDSU and is working toward her Ph.D. in Chemistry. She has been a teaching assistant since 1997 and recently taught the Preparation for General Chemistry course, a requirement for Biology majors.

“With 257 students taking the class, 11 labs, and four tutorial sections…that’s like a bomb waiting to go off if you’re not careful with it. I wanted to pass this course on to good hands,” said retired Chemistry professor Larry Bennett, who taught the class for 11 years and was responsible for its inception. “Julia is one of the very best graduate teaching assistants I have ever seen. She interacts with the human aspects of a student, as much as the intellectual aspects. She has a great deal of charisma and generates positive energy.”

Bennett said after Schafer took over teaching his class, students’ grades improved, withdrawals decreased and Schafer received some of the highest teaching evaluations in the Chemistry department.

Schafer originally planned a career in research, but her instructional experience has changed her outlook. “While I love research, I find teaching more rewarding. Not everyone’s a people-person, but for me it’s uplifting to work with people. I’ll probably never be an Einstein, but I can contribute by inspiring other people to study chemistry,” she said.

Thomas Scott, Dean of the SDSU College of Sciences, said, "We are pleased that Ms. Schafer's fine work in the classroom is being recognized in the Pauling award. The training of scientists represents a major focus in higher education as our economy and standard of living increasingly come to depend on technical progress. Ms. Schafer's prowess is a fine example of the abilities we need in areas like biotechnology education."

CSUPERB’s award is named after Professor Crellin Pauling of San Francisco State University for his extraordinary contributions to the training of teachers and scientists and his commitment to the creation of a scientifically literate electorate. Crellin is the son of Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling.

CSUPERB is designed to channel resources from across the California State University system and catalyze interdisciplinary, inter-campus, synergistic endeavors involving Biology and Chemistry departments as well as Engineering, Agriculture and Computer Science. CSUPERB serves as the official liaison between the CSU and industry, government, the Congressional Biotechnology Caucus, and the public arena in all biotechnological matters.

CONTACT: Jennifer Zwiebel, (619) 594-4298 Pager (619) 242-1365, jzwiebel@mail.sdsu.edu


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