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Dunning, Zischke Honored by College of Agriculture

By Wendy Mayer, Communications Coordinator

Dr. Barny Dunning and Dr. Mitch Zischke were honored by the Purdue College of Agriculture for the 2021-22 school year as David C. Pfendler Outstanding Undergraduate Counselor and the Outstanding Teaching Award for Clinical and Continuing Lecturers recipient respectively.

The Pfendler Outstanding Undergraduate Counselor Award has been presented annually since 1969. It is presented to a tenured or tenure-track faculty member and is based in part on the nominee's special qualities for counseling and the nominee's goals in counseling and the manner in which they are attained. Dunning is the most recent honoree from Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources, following Dr. Reuben Goforth (2018-19).

The Outstanding Teaching Award for Clinical and Continuing Lecturers is available to a non-tenure track faculty or staff member and is based on a nominee's instructional effectiveness (peer evaluations, student evaluations, subsequent course performance), course instruction improvement and innovation, and dissemination of teaching effectiveness (scholarship of teaching and learning, presentations, workshops, peer-reviewed publications, etc.). Zischke is the first FNR faculty member to win this award.

Barny Dunning headshotDunning has been a part of Purdue FNR since 1994, when he joined the faculty as an assistant professor of wildlife ecology. He was promoted to associate professor in 1999 and to full professor in 2010. Dunning took on the added responsibility as the associate department head for academic programs in 2015.

In addition to teaching, Dunning acts as the director of the FNR Office of Student Services. In this role, he advises and mentors FNR students in independent study projects associated with summer internships, and semester-long study abroad programs. Dunning also serves as a primary academic advisor for the department, advising 35 to 65 students.

"I have enjoyed talking with students about their interests, potential careers, and love of nature throughout my career," Dunning said. "Becoming an advisor and working with the staff of the Office of Student Services has allowed me to interact with our students much more regularly. I deeply appreciate that the College recognizes the importance of this type of interaction by giving me this award." 

Dunning, who received his bachelor's degree in biological sciences from Kent State in 1978 and his Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Arizona in 1986, has been honored many times for his teaching prowess. In 2011, he received the NACTA Teaching Award of Merit, Purdue's Charles Murphy Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award, and the College of Agriculture's Richard L. Kohl's Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher Award and was inducted into Purdue's Teaching Academy the same year. He was inducted into Purdue's Great Book of Teachers in 2013. Dunning has been named as an Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher in FNR five times, most recently in 2010-11.

Dunning teaches courses in conservation, environmental sciences, and ecology, including Environmental Science and Conservation (FNR 12500), Systematics and Ecology of Mammals and Birds (FNR 25150), International Natural Resource Issues (FNR 46000), and Advanced Ornithology (FNR 57100) in addition to Wildlife Practicum and a Tropical Biology Practicum in Costa Rica. Dunning also serves on the department's Curriculum Committee and as associate head for academic programs, he has helped faculty revise the forestry and aquatic sciences majors.

Dunning also is the faculty advisor for the Purdue Northern Saw-Whet Owl Banding Station, which has seen many undergraduate students gain valuable hands-on research experience.

Zischke came to Purdue as a postdoctoral research associate in Mitch Zischke headshot2014. He transitioned to a fisheries scientist position in 2016 and was named a clinical assistant professor in 2017. Zischke, who received his bachelor's in tropical marine science (2006) and Ph.D. in fisheries science (2013) from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, teaches Marine Biology (FNR 20100), Fish Biology and Ecology (FNR 38500), Practical Fisheries Management (FNR 45700) and the Aquatic Sciences Summer Practicum (FNR 37100). He also is the advisor for the student chapter of the American Fisheries Society and Purdue's Bass Fishing Club and has served on the FNR Curriculum Committee, the College of Agriculture Curriculum and Student Relations Committee, and the University's Undergraduate Curriculum Council.

 "I am honored to be recognized for my teaching in a college full of outstanding instructors," Zischke said. "I'm also grateful for the wonderful support from my colleagues, academic advisors and administrators. Finally, I am thankful for the passionate students who engage with my classes and motivate me every day."

Zischke's passion for his courses was noted by his marine biology students, while his quest for innovation was honored through his selection to the Service Learning Fellows Program.

Zischke also is a part of two Purdue and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant extension programs: Connecting anglers, scientists, and managers in Great Lakes fisheries; and Assisting private land owners in Indiana with pond management. As part of the latter program, Zischke developed the Purdue Extension Pond and Wildlife Management website with Extension wildlife specialist Jarred Brooke, to help Indiana landowners manage their ponds for fishing and their land for hunting and other wildlife opportunities. He also co-hosts the Pond University podcast with Megan Gunn, recruitment and outreach specialist for FNR and aquatic education associate for Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. The podcast, which is part of a network called Natural Resources University, covers topics such as pond habitat, fish stocking, vegetation control, and pond construction.

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