Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2008-08-26

Samford University biology professor and environmentalist Dr. Betsy Dobbins has received the school's 2008 John H. Buchanan Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching.

Dr. Dobbins received the award from Samford provost Dr. Brad Creed during the opening convocation of the fall semester Tuesday, Aug. 26.

Describing her as one of Samford's "most dynamic" faculty members, Creed cited Dobbins for her efforts related to problem-based learning, service learning and environmental concerns.

"She is deeply committed to science as an academic discipline, but she also understands the ways in which science illuminates God's creative force in this world," said Creed.

The honoree received a silver tray and a $1,000 cash prize. The Buchanan Award recipient is chosen each year from a list of finalists nominated by members of the most recent graduating class.

Dobbins, whose specialty areas include physiology and embryology, often leads students out of the classroom and into natural habitats. Well-known on campus for promoting environmental causes, she is a longtime coordinator of Earth Day activities at the school.

She pioneered a unique program linking her biology classes to courses in science at Gate City Elementary School in Birmingham, and was co-designer of a new program in bioinformatics that helped secure over $100,000 in funding for science-based scholarships. She has mentored undergraduate research projects on progesterone in paper mill effluent and the medicinal properties of plants.

Creed noted that students who nominated Dobbins for the award commented that she practices what she encourages her students to do, stresses the importance of learning over a lifetime rather than crunching facts before a test, and brings students into an environment that "challenges their comfort zones and broadens their horizons."

"Her enthusiasm for the subject matter is contagious and inspires her students to become passionate about what they are learning," said Creed.

Dobbins has served on many campus committees and is active in community service through Habitat for Humanity, Friends of Shades Creek, Interfaith Hospitality Network and All Saints' Episcopal Church.

She earned a bachelor's degree at Auburn University and master's and Ph.D degrees from University of California, Los Angeles.

She and her husband, Allan, have two sons, William and James.