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Pathobiology Doctoral Candidate, Matthew Moreau, Acknowledged for Excellence in Teaching

Posted: February 5, 2015

Matthew Moreau will be receiving the 2014-15 Harold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Award for excellence in instructing during the March 2015 Student Awards Ceremony.
“Matt is not only an outstanding instructor but a genuinely good human being,” explains nominator, Dr. Ola Sodeinde.

“Matt is not only an outstanding instructor but a genuinely good human being,” explains nominator, Dr. Ola Sodeinde.

This teaching award is given to ten Penn State graduate assistants each year from the Penn State Graduate School and the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education. Matthew Moreau, pathobiology doctoral candidate in the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences (VBS), and the nine other graduate assistants will be recognized for their exemplary teaching abilities at the Student Awards Ceremony on Sunday, March 22nd at Eisenhower Auditorium. He is the first VBS student to receive this honor.

Since 2013, Matthew has taught four sections of Elementary Microbiology Laboratory (Micrb 107) and one section of Laboratory of General and Applied Microbiology (Micrb 421W). When not teaching or working on his doctoral thesis, which he is defending this semester, he is performing research as a member of Dr. Subhashinie Kariyawasam’s and Dr. Bhushan Jayarao's labs

Matthew was nominated by the courses’ instructor, Dr. Ola Sodeinde, who explains that, “Matt has a solid grasp of microbiology and, just as importantly, he has the gift of being able to impart this knowledge in a highly accessible manner to undergraduates.” Dr. Sodeinde goes on to add, “He always was well prepared for class and went out of his way to make sure that his students understood the material rather than relied on rote memorization. I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with him.”

This desire to help others understand science is a large part of what makes Matthew tick. He began his undergraduate education at Bridgewater State University, Massachusetts, wanting to be a high school teacher, but after a mentor introduced him to research, he became hooked on exploring science through research instead. That didn’t mean he was going to forsake teaching altogether, however, it just meant that his calling expanded to encompass both teaching and research – a perfect combination for a future professor, which is his current career goal.

When asked what might make him a good teacher, Matthew’s dedication to the growth of Penn State’s undergraduate students was obvious in his reply, “I want the students to come away from my classes being able to solve problems through logical thought processes, rather than to merely regurgitate memorized facts.  And, I want them to be able to incorporate what they have learned into solving future problems.”

He geared his labs, his assignments and his tests to support his students in doing just that. Matthew often asked them to demonstrate their knowledge and apply it to new experiences. He set the bar high for his students because he does the same for himself. Dr. Sodeinde agrees, “I think his students were inspired by and fed off his enthusiasm for the subject. Consequently, they didn't mind working a little bit harder... So, I would say they acquired a true appreciation of the discipline due to the manner that Matt presented the material.”

What does the future hold for Matthew now that this chapter is almost over?  His doctoral thesis on pathogenomics and the source dynamics of Salmonella Enteritidis is coming along well, and soon he will be looking for a post-doctoral fellowship studying microbial systems involved in host-pathogen interactions; how genes associated with pathogenic strategies of pathogens are regulated in different hosts, and how the hosts respond in turn. All this hard work will be interrupted gladly when, in the fall, he weds his long-time partner and post-doctoral scholar in VBS, Dr. Laura Goodfield.