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Higher Education
Texas A&M University at Galveston
News Release
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Texas A&M Galveston Marine Scientist Named Montague-Center
for Teaching Excellence Scholar

GALVESTON — Dr. Pete van Hengstum, Assistant Professor in the Department of Marine Sciences, has been named the 2017-2018 Texas A&M University at Galveston Montague-Center for Teaching Excellence Scholar.

The Montague-Center for Teaching Excellence Scholars Program was initiated in 1991 as a cornerstone effort to provide leadership and services that contribute to the improvement of teaching quality at Texas A&M University.  Each academic college annually selects one tenure-track developing faculty member as their Montague-Center for Teaching Excellence Scholar.  This person receives a $6,500 grant to research and develop innovative teaching techniques with outcomes made available to other faculty through the Center for Teaching Excellence.

“Since joining Texas A&M Galveston in autumn of 2013, Pete has been a whirlwind of positive energy in his interactions with all members of the campus community,” said Dr. Kyeong Park, department head of Marine Sciences at Texas A&M Galveston.  “Dr. van Hengstum’s passion for teaching and engaging undergraduate students is clearly evidenced in his re-vitalization of the geoscience curriculum at Texas A&M Galveston.  Pete has brought a modern earth system approach to teaching geosciences on our campus, and he anchors his teaching with state-of-the-art advances from the scientific literature.”

He has received a career total exceeding $2 million in research grants from national and international agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Dalio Explore Foundation.  With this funding, Dr. van Hengstum has expanded the capability to collect unique sediment records from deep sinkholes and blueholes to investigate climate change, tropical landscape ecology and environmental change, and the periodicity of intense hurricane activity and droughts over the past 10,000 years.

Dr. van Hengstum will use his award to develop and implement inquiry-based teaching approaches and curriculum at the junior level at TAMUG.  “I benefited tremendously from inquiry-based teaching during my undergraduate study at McMaster University,” says Dr. van Hengstum, “which pioneered inquiry-based teaching in the 1960’s. This teaching approach develops skills in self-directed learning, a characteristic that promotes future success in all graduates.”

Dr. van Hengstum is also a mentor for undergraduate research by advising undergraduate theses, capstone, individual research projects and hosting summer undergraduate research assistants in his lab.  His supervised Undergraduate Honors Scholars are already experiencing success in academia, with one having published their thesis in a peer-reviewed journal.

During the year of designation, the Montague-Center for Teaching Excellence Scholars meet with each other, previously recognized scholars, the Council of Master Teachers, the Provost and the President, thus allowing these developing faculty to interact with recognized teachers and policy-making administrators of Texas A&M University.  The program allows the university to develop role-model teachers and to give recognition of excellence and promise in teaching early in a faculty member’s career.

Previously recognized scholars from Texas A&M Galveston are: Maria Pia Miglietta - Marine Biology (2016-2017), David Wells - Marine Science (2015-2016) and Karl Kaiser - Marine Science (2014-2015).

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