Brian H. Lower, associate professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University, received the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) 2016 Excellence in College and University Teaching Award for Food and Agricultural Sciences at the 129th annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities held in Austin, Texas.
Lower received the award for the U.S. North Central Region, which includes colleges and universities in IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, ND, OH, SD, WI. The award honors individuals who have a sustained pattern of excellence in college and university teaching in the fields of agriculture, natural resources, veterinary science, and/or human sciences. The award is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU).
Lower joined Ohio State in 2008 and has taught over 30 courses to almost 6,000 students. Class sizes range from 10 students in his graduate courses to 600 students in his popular Introduction to Environmental Science class. He strives to develop innovative ways to engage students in the scientific process and encourage their educational development. Examples include publishing a free environmental science textbook (titled Environmental ScienceBites) authored by undergraduates, chairing the annual Environmental Science Student Symposium at Ohio State where 700+ students present individual posters of their work each year, and launching a free Apple iTunes U environmental science course to reach a global audience. Lower is passionate about the use of technology and distance education to increase student access, reach a more diverse audience and make college affordable to everyone.
Lower serves several student programs at Ohio State, including the Second-Year Transformational Experience Program (STEP), the Graduate Teaching Associate Development and Enhancement Program, the Graduate Research and Scholarship Awards Committee, the Graduate Associate Teaching Awards Committee, the Distance Education Steering Committee and the Ohio Science Olympiad.
Lower conducts research in the field of microbial biogeochemistry. He has received numerous grants to support his research from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). He also received the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Educator Award, the Rodney F. Plimpton Outstanding Teacher Award and the Virginia Tech Outstanding Alumni Award.
Before joining Ohio State, Lower worked in the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). PNNL is a U.S. DOE national laboratory located in Richland, Washington. He earned his B.S. from Kent State University in 1995 and Ph.D. from Virginia Tech in 2001.