CORVALLIS, Ore. – The world’s largest professional organization of entomologists has recognized an Oregon State University professor for her creative teaching.
The Entomological Society of America will give Sujaya Rao its Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching on Dec. 12. Each year, the society gives the award to one association member who has excelled in developing innovative new courses, programs and teaching methods.
Since her arrival at OSU in 2000, Rao, a professor of entomology, has shared her knowledge of insects with students from kindergarten to graduate school, as well as with teachers and the public. She has garnered more than $1.7 million in grants to fund various science education programs.
Rao spearheaded the Rural Science Education program, which partnered graduate students with rural school teachers to create research-based, hands-on science lesson plans and materials. The program was so well-received that when the initial grant from the National Science Foundation ran out, OSU’s crop and soil science department created a fund to help continue the project.
Through another of Rao's projects, Discovering Partners in Nature, middle school students from four rural schools experienced life as an entomologist. The students collected, studied and preserved bees and flowers, conducted experiments and presented their findings at a campus conference.
Rao has also worked with the Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences (SMILE) program, a partnership between OSU and Oregon school districts to provide science and math enrichment for educationally disadvantaged students in fourth through 12th grades.
Additionally, Rao is the faculty adviser for BugZoo, an undergraduate club that takes live insects to classrooms and public events. BugZoo reaches more than 2,000 students and adults each year, Rao said.
Rao will receive her award during the Entomological Society of America’s annual conference in San Diego.