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Flaherty Receives National Excellence in Teaching Award

Dr. Elizabeth Flaherty, associate professor of wildlife ecology and habitat management, has been named as one of two national recipients of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Excellence in College and University Teaching Awards for Food and Agricultural Sciences. The award, which is presented by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), celebrates university faculty for their ability as instructors, use of innovative teaching methods, service to students, professionalism and scholarship.

Liz Flaherty, associate professor, Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources.“Everyone in our department is absolutely thrilled about Dr. Flaherty receiving this well-deserved national recognition for excellence in teaching from the USDA,” said Dr. Bob Wagner, Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources department head. “Her outstanding scholarship in teaching and learning provides a tremendous example that we can all aspire to achieve in the classroom. We are all honored to be able to celebrate with her today.”

In its awards summary of Dr. Flaherty, the APLU said this:
Dr. Liz Flaherty focuses on the development of students’ critical thinking and professional skills as well as mastery of course content as she trains future natural resource and agriculture professionals. In her courses, students engage in activities similar to those expected of natural resource professionals, like developing habitat management plans for Purdue-owned properties as a semester-long project in her Wildlife Habitat Management course, which also provides students with opportunities to evaluate career options and pathways.

During her seven years at Purdue University, she has revised and taught three required courses in the wildlife major, developed and taught a teaching seminar to support her department’s graduate students that serve as teaching assistants for undergraduate courses, and developed and led two study abroad courses to Cuba and the Galápagos Islands that focus on the environment, biodiversity, and land management.
The APLU award is the latest in a list of several teaching honors presented to Flaherty since her arrival at Purdue. In 2017, she also was honored by the APLU, earning the Innovative Teaching Award.
Flaherty was tabbed as the 2020 Murphy Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching. She also was named as a Purdue Teaching Academy Fellow. In 2019, Flaherty garnered the Richard L. Kohls Award from the Purdue College of Agriculture as well as a Teaching Leadership Award on the university level. She also was named as an honorable mention honoree for the College of Ag’s Unsung Diversity Hero Award. In 2018, she received the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Teacher Educator Award. In the Spring of 2016, Flaherty was named as an IMPACT fellow (Instruction Matters: Purdue Academic Course Transformation).
Flaherty, who was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2019, was honored over the summer of 2020 as The Wildlife Society Student Chapter Advisor of the Year for her work with the Purdue chapter, including preparing students for the TWS certification program and her success in reaching out to increase diversity in the chapter. Four Purdue students won first place at The Wildlife Society’s 22nd Annual Quiz Bowl in Reno in October 2019.
In addition to her teaching prowess, Flaherty is part of a newly funded grant from the National Science Foundation: “Collaborative Research: The Ecological Basis of Hunting and Meat Sharing in Female Savanna Chimpanzees,” an interdisciplinary project, which assesses female biased hunting. It is part of the HUNTRESS (hunting, nutrition, tool use, reproductive ecology, and meat sharing in savanna chimpanzees) project. Flaherty will be leading the stable isotope component of the project.
She recently published a paper on Stable isotope ecology in insects: a review in Ecological Entomology with PhD alumni Brandon Quinby and was part of a series of publications related to squirrel and rodent behavior on Squirrel-Net Teaching Modules on CourseSource. Her work in the field, studying polar bears in Manitoba, was featured in the Purdue Alumnus magazine in March 2020.
About the APLU
The APLU is a research, policy and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. With a membership of 246 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations, APLU's agenda is built on the three pillars of increasing degree completion and academic success, advancing scientific research, and expanding engagement. Annually, member campuses enroll 5.0 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.3 million degrees, employ 1.3 million faculty and staff, and conduct $49.3 billion in university-based research.

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