Professional News

The Provost’s 2023 Outstanding Teaching Awards: Lou Hirsch

Lou Hirsch, Ph.D., assistant professor, standing outside
Lou Hirsch, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of plant pathology in the Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. Mark Cornelison l UK Photo

Each Thursday, UKNow is highlighting one of the winners of the University of Kentucky’s 2022-23 Outstanding Teaching Awards, given by the Office for Faculty Advancement with the Office of the Provost.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 22, 2023) — Lou Hirsch, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment Department of Plant Pathology, is one of 10 winners to receive the University of Kentucky’s 2022-23 Outstanding Teaching Awards.

These awards identify and recognize individuals who demonstrate special dedication to student achievement and who are successful in their teaching. Recipients were selected via nomination and reviewed by a selection committee based in the UK Provost’s Office for Faculty Advancement and the Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching.

“Outstanding teaching is so more than what people often think about first, like course structure, lecture delivery, and test performance. Great teaching is most often undertaken in the background, like by getting to know students personally, being able to provide timely encouragement, and imparting an excitement for learning something new that can’t be summed up into words," said Hirsch. “This professional acknowledgment is nice, but it is wonderful to know that I have helped so many students become better people though my work.”

Hirsch was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where he hunted, fished and hiked throughout the deserts and forests of the American Southwest. After going to college at Tulane University in New Orleans for English and Religious Studies, he started a career as a scuba instructor and boat captain. He managed scuba diving charter companies in the Florida Keys and San Diego, California, before moving to Arkansas with his future spouse who was starting graduate school.

In Arkansas, he accidently discovered the field of plant pathology (the study of plant diseases) and through a series of happy accidents and some hard work he ended up returning to school to earn a master’s degree in plant pathology and a Ph.D. in plant science.

After teaching at a small liberal arts college in South Carolina and working as a scientist for the Veterans Administration system on human genomics research, he started a teaching- and outreach-focused position in the Department of Plant Pathology at UK.

In addition to his faculty position, Hirsch serves as the director of Undergraduate Studies for the Agricultural & Medical Biotechnology and Agriculture Individualized Programs.

This year’s Outstanding Teaching Awards were given to four faculty, three lecturers and three graduate teaching assistants. Each winner received an award certificate, a commemorative engraved gift and a cash award in recognition of their teaching excellence.

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