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Thomas W. and Jane Mason Tewskbury Endowment for Teaching Excellence

The College of Health and Human Development has awarded the Thomas W. and Jane Mason Tewskbury Endowment for Teaching Excellence award to two faculty members.

The purpose of the endowment is to promote and enhance teaching excellence and inspire students to pursue a career as a teaching professional.

Amit Sharma, associate professor of hospitality management and finance and director of the Food Decisions Research Laboratory, will use the award to add a blog feature to the hDefi smartphone app that he developed to increase undergraduate student engagement and reading compliance for the course Financial Management in Hospitality Operations, HM 435.

Sharma created the app using the Donald M. and Virginia Miller Cook Teaching Endowment in 2012.

“The purpose of the blog will be to increase student engagement, and enhance learning experience of reading assignments, concepts discussed in class, and through alumni interaction over common topics of academic interest,” Sharma said.

A Penn State graduate student will develop the blog feature under the direction of Bart Pursel, affiliate faculty of information sciences and technology, who is a project collaborator.

David J. Vandenbergh, professor of biobehavioral health and associate director of the Penn State Institute of the Neurosciences, will use the award to purchase a one-year license for their VarSeq software, which will include a reduced-price offer for undergraduate students who purchase a license for the software.

Vandenbergh intends to use the software to guide students enrolled in Developmental & Health Genetics, BBH 410, to conduct both basic and advanced genetic analyses.

“My goal is to show them that the methods I describe in class for published results are not out of reach of a well-trained undergraduate,” Vandenbergh said. “I feel that this hands-on experience will provide concrete examples of what can be rather abstract concepts.”