Congrats3 to Pratibha Nerurkar, who on March 31 received the 2021 Presidential Citation for Meritorious Teaching at UH Manoa, on April 1 received the 2021 Western Region Award for Excellence in College and University Teaching in Food and Agricultural Sciences, and on April 6 received a $500,000 grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
“I am truly honored to receive these recognitions and awards,“ says Pratibha of the Dept. of Molecular Biosciences & Bioengineering. “I thank my students, MBBE and CTAHR colleagues, CTAHR deans and all the staff for their continued support for all these years.”
Pratibha is one of 13 UHM faculty (out of more than 625 initial campus-wide nominations submitted by faculty, staff, students and alumni) to be recognized for her “dedication to the teaching enterprise through inspiration, ingenuity, and innovation,” writes President David Lassner.
Recipient faculty members have made “significant contributions in teaching and student learning” and honors an “extraordinary level of subject mastery and scholarship, teaching effectiveness and creativity, and personal character.”
Pratibha will be presented the Western Region Award during its Joint Summer Meeting, which will be held online in late June.
The special program – a partnership between NIFA, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, University of Georgia, and Association of Public and Land-grant Universities –recognizes outstanding college faculty in agriculture, natural resources, veterinary, and human sciences.
Pratibha also landed a $ half-million grant from NIFA to pursue her project, “Empowering Women and Underrepresented Undergraduates with Advanced Technology Research Training in Agriculture and Food Sciences.”
“She herself is an empowered woman, so she can truly empower other women in science,” says Dulal Borthakur, MBBE chair. “She brings glory to MBBE and CTAHR.”
In her own words
In 2002, when Pratibha added teaching to her laboratory research duties, “I wanted to meet my students’ expectations, understand their needs and be equal partner in their academic goals. “My teaching style has evolved from student input through open-ended e-café questions. Over the years, their feedback has changed my teaching style, philosophy and values.”
Pratibha adds, “Students had trouble finishing the exams in a strict timeframe, so I put exams online and gave students a week to take it. They wanted homework, so now 30% of their grade is homework. I give them extra credit opportunities, bonus quizzes – so they have every chance to succeed. The students appreciate that, and I believe their high intelligence is better reflected on their grades.”
Her most important lesson over the past two decades at UH? “Compassion in teaching helps students succeed.”