Excellence in Education Award

This award was initiated in 1988 to recognize outstanding teaching, mentoring, and/or educational outreach in plant biology. It is a monetary award to be made annually in recognition of excellence in teaching, leadership in curricular development, or authorship of effective teaching materials in the science of plant biology.

2024 Winner: Tessa Burch-Smith

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis, Missouri

Tessa Burch-Smith has emerged as a leader in teaching, mentoring, and outreach. Throughout her career she has taught a wide breadth of topics related to plant biology, including advanced cell biology, molecular biology, genetics, scientific communication, and microscopy. Tessa has been recognized for her effectiveness and impact in the classroom, and she has received multiple awards, including an Inclusive Teaching award from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2019. Tessa has been very active and intentional as a research mentor for numerous postdocs, graduate students, and over 40 undergraduates who have conducted research in her lab. She is currently the PI for an NSF funded REU program at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Additionally, Tessa has been a vocal advocate for students with diverse abilities, particularly those that are deaf and hard of hearing. She has led workshops and professional development sessions that have led to institutional change and helped to empower others to be inclusive mentors. In recognition of her leadership in this area she received the Disability Champion Award from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville Student Disability Services.

Michael Grillo, Chair (2023-2025)
Bonnie Bartel, Past Winner (2023-2024)
Martha Ibore (2023-2026)
Li Tian (2023-2026)
Sylvia Lee, Staff Liaison