Copeland and Forrest Honored with NSM Teaching Awards

Copeland and Forrest Honored with NSM Teaching Awards
Faculty Members Recognized for Engaging and Challenging their Students

The 2012 winners of NSM’s John C. Butler Excellence in Teaching Award have a few things in common - patience, the ability to clarify complex topics, and a willingness to spend time outside class helping students.

Peter Copeland
Peter Copeland receives the John C. Butler Excellence in Teaching Award from Dean Mark Smith.
Peter Copeland, associate professor of geology, and Rebecca Forrest, instructional and research assistant professor of physics, are the 2012 recipients of the Butler Excellence in Teaching Award. Established in memory of former NSM Dean, John Butler, the award recognizes faculty members who best engage and challenge their students and who share their enthusiasm for the subject matter they teach.

The Butler award is given each year to one tenure/tenure-track faculty member and one instructional faculty member and includes a $5,000 prize. Nominations may be made by NSM departments, student organizations, faculty, students, and staff. Copeland and Forrest received letters of nomination and support from faculty members, current students, and former students.

Joining UH in 1990, Copeland’s teaching repertoire includes courses such as physical geology, historical geology, and petrography. New initiatives of his include a course called “Dinosaurs, Mars and the Age of the Earth” and a book on effective scientific communication, “Communicating Rocks: Writing, Speaking, and Thinking about Geology” (2011).

Letters in support of Copeland’s nomination described a “passion for his work, which comes through in his captivating lectures. This passion, combined with his wealth of knowledge, helps to make difficult conceptual ideas accessible to a wide cross-section of University of Houston undergraduates.” His style and enthusiasm for his subject matter resonates with students who are fulfilling their core scientific requirements as well as those who plan to make a career in Earth Science.

Rebecca Forrest
Rebecca Forrest receives the John C. Butler Excellence in Teaching Award from Dean Mark Smith.
Forrest, who joined the UH faculty in 2004, uses interactive and collaborative teaching methods in her introductory physics classes, and also teaches upper level courses of solid state physics and advanced lab. She was part of the team that revised the advanced laboratory courses, which included introducing new experiments and refining existing experiments.

Nomination letters pointed out Forrest’s keen ability to “explain difficult concepts at a level where students feel comfortable with them.” Another letter highlighted her innovative teaching style, stating that Forrest “utilizes technology to its fullest” and “uses many props to bring the concept she is teaching to life and to aid any visual learners.”

Copeland and Forrest received their awards at the NSM Tribute to Scholars, Leaders and Partners in Excellence Luncheon.

- Kathy Major, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics