Radford Professor earns Virginia’s top award for teaching excellence

Radford University Professor of Biology Jeremy Wojdak, Ph.D.

Radford University Professor of Biology Jeremy Wojdak, Ph.D. is a recipient of the prestigious 2020 State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) Outstanding Faculty Awards.

Since 1987, these awards have recognized faculty at Virginia’s institutions of higher learning who exemplify the highest standards of teaching, scholarship and service.

Nominees are selected by the institutions, reviewed by a panel of peers and chosen by a committee of leaders from the public and private sectors. In all, 85 nominations were submitted this year. This group was narrowed to a field of 27 finalists and then to the 12 recipients, each of whom will receive a $7,500 gift from Dominion Energy at a special ceremony in Richmond to be held on March 9, 2020.

Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D. said of Wojdak’s exemplary recognition: “Since joining the Radford family in 2004, Dr. Wojdak has exemplified the University’s mission of being dedicated to the creation and dissemination of knowledge that empowers students from diverse backgrounds and cultivates relationships between students and faculty, while embracing innovation and tradition. With an impressive record of scholarly work and external funding on the national level, Dr. Wojdak is a dedicated member of the Artis College of Science and Technology and the broader University community, including teaching a study abroad field course and serving as a leader in the maker movement through collaborative work to integrate more hands-on, digital and physical creative activities in the curriculum. These are just a few of Dr. Wojdak’s many accomplishments to his students, the University and his discipline.”

Wojdak is no stranger to the Commonwealth’s highest honor awarded annually by SCHEV. He was a finalist for the award in 2017, 2018 and 2019. In addition, Wojdak was selected in 2018 as a Radford University Dalton Eminent Scholar, a University-level award for creative scholarship.

“Dr. Wojdak is an inspirational instructor and scholar, as well as an exemplary role model for his students and faculty peers,” said Artis College of Science and Technology Dean J. Orion Rogers, Ph.D. “His contributions to Radford University range from developing a Tropical Field Biology course at St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, to earning membership in the Million Dollar Circle for external grant awards in 2017 and publishing more than 28 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals. He has been a leader in roles to acquire external grants that include $1 million from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for the Inclusive Excellence Program, called REALISE, to reform student experiences in biology, chemistry and physics programs at Radford University and provide a catalyst toward institutional change to improve student success.”

In his scientific disciplinary research, Wojdak studies the interactions among species in ponds, lakes, streams and rivers in the Virginia landscape and beyond. More specifically, he works to understand the impacts predators can have on their prey, and parasites can have on their hosts. He engages his students in his research projects, resulting not only in presenting at local and national conferences, but also co-authoring peer-reviewed publications.

Beyond the University, Wojdak has led numerous outreach events for school children, including several robotics competitions. He regularly serves as a panelist and proposal reviewer for the National Science Foundation, has reviewed dozens of manuscripts for international scientific journals and serves as an editor for the journal, “Letters in Biomathematics,” and on graduate student committees.

“I am truly honored to be recognized by our state’s leaders in higher education, and so very fortunate to have colleagues that would give their own time to submit a nomination or write a letter to help recognize others,” Wojdak said. “As faculty, so much of our work is in collaboration either with students or our peers. I am proud to represent the culture of excellence shared by the Department of Biology, Artis College of Science and Technology and Radford University.”

Wojdak earned a Ph.D. in zoology, ecology, evolution and behavior from Michigan State University and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Bowling Green State University.

Wojdak is the 12th Radford University faculty member to be a recipient of the SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Awards. Previous Radford University winners are: Agida Manizade (Mathematics and Statistics), 2018; Jennifer Jones Powell (Teacher Education), 2015; Cliff Boyd (Anthropology), 2008; Donna Boyd (Anthropology), 2006; Mark Camphouse (Music), 2002; Robert Whisonant (Geology), 2000; Chester “Skip” Watts (Geology), 1998; Franklin Jones (Physical Science), 1996; Leonor Ulloa (Foreign Languages and Literatures), 1993; and Grace Toney Edwards (English) and Steven Pontius (Geography), 1990.

 

-Radford University