Joe Gunn Wins Postdoctoral Teaching Award

Dr. Joe Gunn, a postdoctoral fellow in biological sciences, has been selected as the recipient of this year’s Postdoctoral Teaching Award from the MU Postdoctoral Association.

“The people I admire and cherish most in my life have been teachers, and I’ve always known I wanted to be like them. But, even with the many amazing students and memorable experiences I’ve had over the years, I still worry about whether I am worthy of the responsibility or capable of being a good educator,” says Gunn. “With this award, I feel validated in doing what I love, and I feel like I’ve made the kind of impact I’ve always wanted to make.”

Gunn earned his Ph.D. from DBS in 2021. His dissertation research, which he carried out in Dr. Lori Eggert’s lab, focused on the divergence and evolution history of smallmouth bass in the Central Interior Highlands. While doing his graduate work, Gunn was a TA for General Ecology for four semesters and for Introduction to Biological Systems for majors for one semester. He also taught a junior-level Evolution and Ecology course during his final semester. Upon completion of his Ph.D., Gunn was offered a split research/teaching postdoctoral position with the Division. The position allowed him to expand on his quantitative genetic skills in the lab of Dr. Elizabeth King and his teaching skills as the instructor for General Ecology and the senior-level capstone course Molecular Ecology.

As a teacher, Gunn was lauded for his excellent classroom performance, especially his use of active-learning strategies, his commitment to student success inside and outside the classroom, and his ability to inspire students by engaging them in the material being taught. 

As one of his former students wrote: “He is a motivated professor who works hard for his students and is always willing to go the extra mile to support and uplift those around him. His capacity for connecting with his students coupled with his love for ecology and the biological sciences helped shape me into the biologist that I am today.”

Gunn was honored at the 8th Annual Graduate and Postdoctoral Awards Celebration on April 26, where he was presented with a plaque and a monetary prize. He was joined at the ceremony by Dr. Lauren Sullivan, who nominated him for the award, and his research advisor, Dr. King.