Central Community College-Columbus Biology instructor earns national recognition
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Biology instructor Dr. Lauren Gillespie has been named as the recipient of 2023 Western Region Faculty Member of the Year Award by the Association of Community Colleges Trustees. The award recognizes excellence in teaching at the community college.
Gillespie began teaching biology at Central Community College-Columbus in 2017 and recently accepted an associate professor position at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland.
Gillespie will receive the award during the 54th annual ACCT Leadership Congress in Las Vegas in November. As a regional award recipient, she is one of five nominees for the ACCT’s prestigious William H. Meardy Faculty Member Award, which will also be presented at the leadership congress.
“I am incredibly honored to be recognized as the ACCT Western Region Faculty Member of the Year,” Gillespie said. “This honor motivates me to continue to advocate for career training for academic-track STEM students at community colleges. As I start my new journey at Anne Arundel Community College, I am immensely grateful to CCC for the opportunities to begin fulfilling my life goal of changing the world one student at a time.”
While at CCC-Columbus, Gillespie was the co-project director of the National Science Foundation-funded scholarship program ‘Growing Pathways to STEM” (Project GPS), which uses a cohort model, undergraduate research experiences and industry relationships to further student success. She also established a framework for the research program known as the Bluebird Project, where students helped establish nest-box trails both on campus and in the local community and collected data from the local bluebird population.
During a routine lab session, Gillespie discovered a population of barn swallows exhibiting partial albinism leading to several local and international research collaborations, elements of which she integrated into her classroom and laboratory activities. In 2022, she was published in a top journal, “Molecular Biology and Evolution,” as part of an international collaboration of researchers studying the mitochondrial genomes of all barn swallow subspecies.
“We greatly appreciate the impact Dr. Gillespie has made on our students and their time at Central Community College,” said CCC President Dr. Matt Gotschall. “Her applied research and connection to student learning can serve as a model for others to follow.”
Gillespie is a past recipient of the American Association for Community Colleges Dale P. Parnell Distinguished Faculty Award for service in teaching and leadership at CCC and with Project GPS. In 2020, she received the League Excellence Award by the League of Community Colleges in recognition of her commitment to excellence in community college teaching and leadership.
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