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Prof. Candi Galen receives national recognition for educational contributions

April 4, 2016

image of Candi Galen in greenhouse

Candace Galen was selected to receive the 2016 Excellence in Education Award from the American Society of Plant Biologists.

The award, which was initiated in 1988, recognizes outstanding teaching, mentoring, and/or educational outreach in plant biology.

Galen, a professor of biological sciences in the College of Arts and Science at the University of Missouri and a member of the Interdisciplinary Plant Group, was recognized for her impact on elementary school science education in Columbia and her efforts to protect Pennsylvania Mountain in Fairplay, Colorado.

“I am honored to have been selected for an award from the ASPB,” said Galen. “It is an honor to know the plant biology community finds value in my efforts to encourage young kids to become scientists and young scientists to value outreach and service to the community.”

Galen has been working with Columbia Public Schools continuously since 2006 to bring authentic research experiences into fourth and fifth grade classrooms through three federally and locally funded projects, “Training Ecologist Doctors for the 21st Century,” “ShowMe Nature,” and “BGreen.” With each project, Galen has created partnerships between University of Missouri students from across the life sciences and fourth and fifth grade classrooms from across Columbia Public Schools. Through the projects, school kids have gained experience in real-world scientific investigation while also learning, in a hands-on way, that science is exciting and fun. University students, in turn, have enhanced their communication, leadership, and teaching skills and experience.

In 2014, Columbia Public Schools named Galen its “Science Hero of the Year.” In choosing her, Columbia Public Schools K-12 Science Coordinator Mike Szydlowsk said Galen had reached almost every elementary school in the Columbia Public School system through the ShowMe Nature project. He also said the project had turned many students onto science and has been a “win-win” for both the Columbia Public School system and the university. “Dr. Galen is insistent that every elementary student should experience good science, and we agree,” he said.

For over a decade, Galen also has worked to cultivate a community partnership to protect Pennsylvania Mountain in the Colorado Rockies, where she has conducted her ecological research on plant-insect mutualisms for nearly 40 years. She was instrumental in raising awareness and funding for the designation of Pennsylvania Mountain as a Natural Research Area under the stewardship of the Mountain Area Land Trust. According to the Trust’s Web site, “This effort ensures the continuing ongoing scientific research conducted by more than a hundred scientists for over 39 years – one of the longest term alpine research sites in the country.”

“Dr. Galen has catalyzed great things and warmly deserves this recognition,” said Professor Bruce McClure, a colleague of Dr. Galen’s at the university and a member of the Society. “She has been the driving force behind a number of outstanding projects supporting science education in the schools and also cultivating a culture that encourages graduate students to embrace outreach as part of their ordinary professional life. She has also done much to get the public and scientists to work together to protect alpine research sites in Colorado.”

Galen has been the recipient of several awards for her educational and scientific contributions, including an Excellence in Education Award from the Division of Student Affairs and the MU Parents Leadership Council and a Gold Chalk Award from the Graduate Professional Council. Most recently, the Women’s & Gender Studies Department and the MU Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women recognized her contributions to the education of women with its Alumnae Anniversary Faculty Award. Galen was elected a fellow to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2004.

Founded in 1924, the American Society of Plant Biologists is a professional society devoted to the advancement of the plant sciences. It publishes two highly cited and respected scientific journals, Plant Physiology and The Plant Cell, and organizes conferences and other activities that advance the plant sciences.

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Written by: Melody Kroll

Related research strengths:
Plant Biology
Related categories:
Awards