The Association of Southeastern Biologists recently recognized University of Louisiana at Monroe Professor of Biology and Graduate Coordinator Dr. Kim Marie Tolson, with its annual Meritorious Teaching Award.
"I had no idea that I was going to get the award," said Tolson. "I was so shocked to hear my name called. It was a complete surprise to me!"
Bestowed only once a year, the award--sponsored by Carolina Biological Supply Co.--honors nominated applicants who have been members of the ASB for at least 10 years and who have taught biology for at least 10 years.
Dr. Dwayne Wise, professor of biological sciences at Mississippi State University, chaired the selection committee that chose the award winner. He said, "Dr. Tolson's application was remarkable because of the statements of former and current students. These clearly show that she is demanding and that she maintains a high level of concern for the individual student. These are the hallmarks of an outstanding professor."
Three of Tolson's graduate students attended the meeting and the banquet at which she received the award.
"I distinctly remember asking my three students to stand up and be recognized. I told the audience that they were the reason that I do what I do and why I love my job and come to work every day."
Tolson said she loves teaching courses that pull her and her students out of the classroom. She enjoys taking classes into the field where they can experience the reality behind their coursework.
"It makes all the difference in the world when they can see for themselves the difference between a plant that has been browsed by a deer versus one that has been browsed by a rabbit," she said. "I can't help but get excited when I am about to take a group of students out in the field. I think that excitement transfers to the students and they get so much more out of the experience."
Her favorite part of winning the award has been seeing the portfolio of letters from colleagues and former and current students sent on her behalf.
"It was very emotional for me to read the letters written by my former students... I never realized that some of the little things I do make such a big impression on students."
Though honored, Tolson insists that the award will only inspire her to become an even better professor. "This award is like a lifetime achievement award that you would get at the end of your career," said Tolson. "But, I think I still have a few more good years left in me. I still feel the excitement."