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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

William Mather


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes William Mather, assistant professor of Physics, for excellence in interdisciplinary education and the integration of research into teaching.

Dr. Mather was initially hired not only to establish his research program at Virginia Tech, but was also expected to leverage his interdisciplinary background in synthetic biology, systems biology, and biophysics to help develop the Systems Biology degree and especially the Integrated Science Curriculum (ISC). The ISC is an alternative program for exceptional undergraduates that seeks to teach a blend of physics, biology, chemistry, and mathematics, with the goal to prepare these students to begin tackling problems at the forefront of research. A major challenge with such a program is to not simply teach disjointed subjects, but rather to demonstrate the connections between traditional disciplines. Dr. Mather has now taught undergraduates in the ISC for three semesters with this challenge in mind, often using examples from his research to demonstrate the relevance of physics and mathematics in the biosciences.

Beyond his formal teaching duties, Dr. Mather also co-leads an NSF-sponsored outreach program where undergraduates are trained to develop online educational tools that satisfy several of the Standards of Learning in Virginia for primary education (grades 4-7), subtly including topics related to Dr. Mather's own research. This program allows Dr. Mather both to impact primary education but also to develop the teaching abilities of these undergraduates. Finally, Dr. Mather consistently involves undergraduates as a part of his own research team, teaching these undergraduates advanced theoretical and experimental techniques for synthetic gene circuits in E. coli.

In addition to earning the New Faculty/Early Career Teaching Certificate from CIDER for the 2012-2013 academic year, Dr. Mather also lists a giant “Thank You” card from his Spring 2015 ISC students as a honored award in his teaching career.


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