Erin Holaday

By

College: Arts and Sciences

UK Biology Professor Wins Teaching Award

Published: Jul 19, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 19, 2011) — A University of Kentucky biology professor known for his creativity in the classroom has recently been awarded for his storytelling.

 

UK biology professor James Krupa was named the 2011 winner of the Four-Year College & University Section Biology Teaching Award from the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT). 

 

The award honors a four-year college or university faculty member who demonstrates creativity and innovation in teaching. Krupa's lesson on the ivory-billed woodpecker was considered by the awards committee to be particularly useful in covering evolution with non-biology majors. 

 

"This award from fellow biology educators is a testament to the quality of instruction Dr. Krupa is inclined to give," said Vincent Cassone, chair of UK's Department of Biology. "He challenges students’ sensibilities and predispositions often, particularly when it involves evidence for evolution, biodiversity and public policy, and sometimes students don’t like it. However, this is what a university education is all about — to challenge peoples’ preconceived notions; and this is what we cherish in the Department of Biology."

 

Since 1995, Krupa has taught 23,000 students, 15 different biology classes and 89 class sections at UK ranging from Urban Ecology and Ornithology, to Evolution and Marine Biology.

 

Most semesters, he teaches five to six sections of introductory, non-majors biology (basic biology and human ecology), with class size ranging from 260 to 500 students.

 

"Recalling Socrates' advice that 'education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel,' and mindful that my class is often the last chance to convince these students that biology (and science, for that matter), is exciting, I search constantly for ways to light that flame," Krupa said. "Story-telling is one of the most powerful teaching tools we can use, yet there is little discussion among teachers on how to improve story-telling skills."

 

In teaching Darwinian foundations of evolution and the scientific method to his students, there are few stories that Krupa is more passionate about than the ivory-billed woodpecker. 

 

"The ivory-bill example is typical of my approach to lead with a story that grabs the attention of students before shifting into the concepts. I tell students the story of the ivory-bill from my perspective," Krupa said. "From my experiences as a child in the Golden Guide to Birds, to my work as a biologist, roaming the swamps, always listening and looking for this bird, I am intentionally planting both the bird's intrinsic glamour and my own personal stake in the minds of my students." 

 

Following the captivating, personal story, Krupa typically introduces the biological basics of the woodpecker genus Campephilus to which the ivory-bill and its 10 sister species belong, followed by class questions that promote critical thinking.

 

"Conveying passion and enthusiasm in a subject is something every teacher must accomplish," Krupa said. "One of the ways to do this is through the art of story-telling."

 

Krupa's research, which typically involves mammal ecology at UK's 11,000-acre Robinson Forest, has included flying squirrel ecology; the impact of fire on small mammals such as the white-footed mouse; the abundance, distribution and ecology of the Allegheny woodrat; field and lab experiments on carnivorous plants; and the competition between carnivorous plants and animal predators.

 

Among other teaching awards, Krupa won UK's College of Arts & Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award in 2007; UK's Provost's Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2002; the Kentucky Academy of Science Outstanding Teacher Award in 2001; the UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award in 1999; and the Zoology Department Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching at the University of Oklahoma (the first such award the Zoology Department ever gave at OU) in 1987.

 

Krupa will receive his latest award at the October meeting of NABT in Anaheim, Calif.

 

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT:  Erin Holaday Ziegler, (859) 257-5365, or erin.holaday@uky.edu

krupa_in_the_field_edited.jpg
December
 
1
Resumes and Cover Letters
Circle of Love Gift Return
Mon
2
UK Guitar Studio
Circle of Love Gift Return
Tue
3
Networking and Job Search
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: Wayne's World
Study Sounds: Classical Concert
Wed
4
LNFS Presents: Frozen
Ballet Music of Tchaikovsky
Circle of Love Gift Pick-Up
Live Screening of Orion Spacecraft Re-entry
Massage on the Go
Thu
5
LNFS Presents: Winter's Bone
LNFS Presents: Gremlins
Open Studio
Circle of Love Gift Pick-Up
Fri
6
Snow Skiing @ Perfect North Slopes
Sat
7
Free Holiday Shopping Shuttle to Fayette Mall
Sun
8
Undergraduate Research Information Session "How to Find a Faculty Mentor"
Mon
9
Job Club - Identifying Your Skills
Paws for Stress Relief
Tue
10
 
Wed
11
 
Thu
12
Last Day of Classes
Fri
13
 
Sat
14
Free Holiday Shopping Shuttle to Fayette Mall
Finals Treats
Sun
15
Final Exams
Crunch Brunch
Mon
16
Final Exams
Jazzy Holiday Concert
Tue
17
Final Exams
Caregiver Support Group
Wed
18
Final Exams
Thu
19
Final Exams
End of 2014 Fall Semester
Fri
20
 
Sat
21
 
Sun
22
 
Mon
23
 
Tue
24
 
Wed
25
 
Thu
26
 
Fri
27
 
Sat
28
 
Sun
29
 
Mon
30
 
Tue
31
 
Wed
 
 
 
Jan 14
Bicycle Trivia 01/14/2015

Wed, 01/14/2015

Fri, 01/16/2015

Wed, 01/21/2015

Reset Page