College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Department of Plant Pathology

April in the News

WSU Today Feature

Dr. Jack Rogers was featured in the April 27 edition of WSU Today regarding Cryptococcus gattii, a potentially fatal-disease-causing fungus.

Students Receive Awards

Dipak Sharma-Poudyal, PhD student working with Dr. Xianming Chen, received second place award for best poster at the fall 2009 Wiley Research Exposition. His poster was on “Prediction models for potential yield losses caused by wheat stripe rust in the US Pacific Northwest”.

Jane Stewart, PhD student with Dr. Tobin Peever, won first place in the student poster competition and the recent Pacific Northwest Evolutionary Biology Meeting (EVO-WIBO) meeting in Port Townsend, WA. The title of her poster was: Does Alternaria alternata have sex?  Co-authors were Kalyn Thomas (WSU undergraduate in the Peever lab), Pete Timmer (University of Florida), Chris Lawrence (Virginia Bioinformatics Institute) and Tobin Peever (Washington State University).

Sridhar Jarugula, PhD student with Dr. Naidu Rayapati, who was selected to receive a travel award from the American Society for Virology to attend this year’s annual meeting in Bozeman, MT.

Congratulations to all our students!

CAHNRS Wade Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Received

Dr. Lori Carris, associate professor in our department was presented with the Wade Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the 51st annual banquet of the CAHNRS held in Ensminger Pavilion on Pullman campus on April 10, 2010.  Dr. Dan Bernardo, Dean, CAHNRS, presented the award to Dr. Carris. The presentation of the R.M. Wade Award for Excellence in Teaching began in 1964 with the support of the R.M. Wade Foundation. It was established to give special recognition to outstanding teachers in CAHNRS.

Since 1989, Dr. Carris has taught mycology in the WSU Dept. of Plant Pathology. She teaches General Mycology (PlP 421/521). In 2004, Dr. Carris developed two new courses, Advanced Fungal Biology (PlP 526) and the entry level course Molds, Mildews, Mushrooms: The Fifth Kingdom (PlP 150). This latter course for non-science majors has become one of the most popular courses in our college, and has attracted new students into plant pathology.

Student enrollments have surged in both PlP 150 and PlP 521.  An enrollment limit of 48 was set for PlP 150 due to the time constraints of grading writing assignments, a requirement for this course.  A number of students each semester use a writing assignment from PlP 150 as part of their required Writing Portfolio. In Spring 2010, there was a waiting list for PlP 150 and students were turned away.  Maximum capacity for PlP 521 is 24, based on room size (PBS 31) and the intensive nature of the laboratory component of the class.  Prior to Fall 2009 semester, PlP 521 reached maximum enrollment and graduate students from several departments requested admission to this class.  As this course is offered on an alternate year basis, for a number of these students, Fall 2009 was their only opportunity to take General Mycology during their graduate program.  The course enrollment was expanded to allow several students to enroll, and final course enrollment was 26, including UI graduate and undergraduate students.

In 2009, Dr. Carris was invited by the WSU Honors College to create a three-credit course called Global Issues in the Sciences (UH 390), which uses case studies to explore how science addresses contemporary questions in the world.  This course was taught in Spring 2009 and Fall 2009.  Dr. Carris incorporates the latest in teaching innovations and technology in her courses as seen from her participation in the WSU CAHNRS Experiential Learning Workshops, Strategies for Recruiting Graduate Students Seminar, the National Conference on Critical Thinking in Agriculture held in Jackson, WY, and numerous WSU CTLT workshops and symposia. Dr. Carris was involved in the WSU Critical Writing Project, which entailed adaptation and application of a seven-dimension critical thinking rubric for improving and measuring students’ higher order thinking skills. Dr. Carris participated in eight workshops at the Center for Teaching and Learning Technologies (CTLT) Critical Thinking Project.

Dr. Carris attended the 2009 Case Studies in Science Summer Workshop at the University of Buffalo, NY.  She developed a case study as part of this workshop,  “Banana Split”, which she is using in her classes and has been submitted to the National Case Study in Science Teaching Collection and is currently under review.  She organized (and led) a workshop on the use of case studies in teaching November 2009 and March 2010 for CAHNRS faculty.  This workshop was supported by funding from the CAHNRS IFS program (with Dr. Laura Lavine).  Together with Dr. Lavine, she submitted three grant proposals (2 NSF, 1 USDA) to develop a research methods course for freshmen and sophomores as a means of increasing retention and getting more students into the STEM disciplines.

Since 2002, Lori has participated in the WSU Summer Doctoral Fellows Program, which recruits low income, first generation, and under-represented minority doctoral candidates from all over America, and is recognized nationally for providing future faculty training and mentoring benefits to WSU and to academia as a whole. She served on the COACH (Committee on the Advancement of Women Chemists) and later TiLT Workshop planning committee that has brought nationally recognized facilitators to campus to promote women’s leadership and professional development.

Dr. Carris expends considerable time and energy in teaching at WSU and the broader community through workshops and courses in mushroom biology for people of all ages and backgrounds. This includes teaching one-day courses on spring and fall mushroom identification for the University of Idaho’s Community Enrichment program and Moscow Parks and Recreation, popular courses that attract members from across the community. Dr. Carris is co-founder of the Palouse Mycological Association, and organizes forays and provides mushroom identification for the community, including poison cases for the local medical and veterinary hospital.

Dr. Carris is dedicated to graduate teaching and training. She is presently supervising a Ph.D. and an M.S. student, and is serving on the advisory committees of seven other graduate students. Dr. Carris has supervised to graduation 4 MS and 4 PhD students. She served as chair of the Graduate Admissions Committee, and Graduate Coordinator for the WSU Department of Plant Pathology since 2000.

Dr. Carris has demonstrated her dedication, commitment and passion to teaching of mycology and plant pathology and student mentoring for twenty years at WSU. Dr. Carris established a culture of commitment to teaching excellence in our department.  From my own personal experience, soon after joining the department, I did not have to be told that teaching is taken very seriously in our department.  I could clearly see that there was a firmly established culture among the faculty that one of the major activities that faculty devote a lot of time is to teaching and mentoring students.  It quickly became evident to me that this culture of ‘students first’ was largely due to Dr. Carris’ work ethic who set high standards in teaching and mentoring.  Her enthusiasm and passion for achieving excellence in teaching comes through every time she stands up in front of a group of students in her class.  She goes above and beyond her call of duty in helping students inside as well as outside the class room.  Dr. Carris’ involvement does not end with her formal class room teaching. She has been the department’s graduate program coordinator and a member of the graduate student admissions committee. She is very generous with her time when it comes to matters related to students.

Comments from students who took her courses are highly complimentary. Some samples include, “Dr. Carris is the best teacher I have ever had and not until I was her student did I appreciate not only the effort put forth but also the art of teaching.  It is because of my experiences in Dr. Carris’ course that I realized that I wanted teaching to be an important part of my career as well”.

Dr. Carris is an extremely effective teacher who commits tremendous effort and time to development and continuous improvement of her courses. She is much admired for her excellence in teaching and the passion and enthusiasm she transmits to students. Students’ comments include “She is the best and most enthusiastic instructor I have had to date”, “The course made me apply myself”, and “The instructor is very intense and appears to love teaching this subject”.

Another student wrote, “Lori served on both my MS and PhD committees and was my instructor for several courses: introductory mycology and a graduate course covering the lower fungi and the basidiomycetes. Lori stands out as one of the top instructors I have ever had throughout my undergraduate and graduate career and I have had many great instructors.  She is by far the most enthusiastic and inspirational teacher when it comes to the discipline of mycology and every student that I ever knew at WSU thought the same.”

The following comment by one of her former students sums it up well: “Lori is a true mentor and puts her students and their education as a priority, not as something that faculty simply ‘have to do’ besides research. I hope to one day be half the teacher Lori is.”

Dr. Carris won the Outstanding Mentor of the Year award in 2007 and Woman of Distinction award in 2009. Also in 2009, the WSU Association for Faculty Women recognized her service to the university with the Sam Smith Leadership Award.

For coverage of the event, please click here.


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