To students of all ages, Chemical and Biological Engineering Professor Regina Murphy not only is an engaging, effective teacher, but also is a mentor valued for thoughtful, insightful input on everything from teaching philosophy to academic integrity. In the classroom, she is an expert at relating challenging chemical engineering concepts to topics that are familiar and important to students. In addition, she includes lecture material in contexts that include cultural and political references, examples of ethics and professional responsibility, and environmental impact issues.
Several years ago, Murphy led Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering efforts to overhaul the introductory course, “Process Synthesis” (CBE 250). She transformed it from a lecture-based course into an active learning experience, incorporating in-class problem-solving and a group design project. “Because of Regina's work organizing and presenting the CBE 250 course, entering students now get a firm foundation and a clear understanding of what this major will give them,” says a colleague.
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Through a mentorship program with select Madison schools, Murphy instills in her students the desire to teach others. She provides junior and senior students with background content knowledge and current teaching practices in elementary science education, then matches them with elementary school science classrooms to drive an inquiry-based science curriculum. “The children look forward to the science investigations and the UW mentors who provide expertise and caring support,” says a teacher. “The classrooms are abuzz with enthusiasm, interest and questions.”
Throughout the process, Murphy encourages her students to ask questions, become fully involved in classroom instruction, and learn as much as they can about elementary science education.
She also is a mentor for faculty and graduate students embarking on faculty careers. She helps them learn to mentor others and to see others' strengths and weaknesses. She asks them tough questions and helps them learn from the answers. “The most important thing I've learned from Regina is that a faculty member can be and should be an excellent teacher in addition to being an excellent researcher,” says a colleague. “Regina has set a standard I aspire to reach.”