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This award is presented to an ASU faculty member who delivers an educational experience that creates impactful, transformative narratives regarding issues facing the world, and expands the minds of his or her students to help discover innovative solutions.
Dr. Sharon J. Hall
Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Associate Professor, School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Dr. Sharon J. Hall is being honored at Founders’ Day for her commitment to teaching, particularly as it relates to incorporating innovative pedagogical methods and championing the education of underrepresented groups in science.
Dr. Hall joined the faculty of ASU’s School of Life Sciences in 2005. As an ecosystem scientist, she and her students are exploring the many ways that people are changing the natural world – and in turn how nature changes us. She shares the results of her work in the many courses she teaches to undergraduate and graduate students. The topics she explores with her students focus on the intersection of nature and society, ranging from classes on the conservation of biodiversity, to courses on ecosystem ecology, “grand challenges” in environmental science, and peer mentoring for environmental majors.
As an enthusiastic participant in the School of Life Sciences digital learning community, she uses numerous active learning methods to engage her students in both small and large enrollment courses. For example, she piloted a peer collaboration and creation platform known as VoiceThread; she uses student-made video, in-class debates, and peer review for assignments; and she weaves stories from her fieldwork in Phoenix, Nepal, and South Africa to connect students to real-world topics. In her teaching, Dr. Hall aims to build up students’ confidence by first hearing their stories and then helping them to develop their scientific and critical thinking skills.
Another emphasis of Dr. Hall’s teaching is ensuring equal access to mentoring and science education for culturally diverse groups. She has overseen the scientific work of numerous female and culturally diverse students, and presents and participates in a variety of professional settings, ranging from ASU’s Preparing Future Faculty program to the Ecological Society of America’s undergraduate SEEDS program. She is the director of ASU’s Environmental Life Sciences Ph.D. program, and advises Nature at ASU, an undergraduate professional development community.
Dr. Hall’s students are enthusiastic endorsers of her teaching acumen. Selected comments include: “Dr. Hall inspired ... students by engaging them in conversation ... and opening our minds to think differently.” “The best possible professor to have teaching this material ... she goes out of her way to make sure that her students use their critical thinking skills.” And, “Dr. Hall seems to be doing everything in her ability to create a positive learning environment for her students.”
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Stanford University, Dr. Hall received a master’s in education from Harvard University and a doctorate in soil science from the University of California-Berkeley.