College of Agriculture and Natural Resources 2021 #iteachmsu Educator Award Recipients

Article image
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources 2021 #iteachmsu Educator Award Recipients

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources 2021 #iteachmsu Educator Award Recipients

The following is a list of the educators receiving the #iteachmsu Educator Award from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. For more information on these awards, check out the article entitled "#iteachmsu Educator Awards".

Jenifer Fenton: Jenifer is a fantastic mentor and constantly seeks out new pedagogical information to pass on to others. Her knowledge and direction really helped me improve my summer asynchronous online courses, and current and upcoming synchronous online courses. Additionally, she was fundamental in the redesign of our Nutritional Sciences major.

Tatiana Thomas: In a very challenging semester, Tati committed to helping me with ANS 300E, animal welfare judging. She served as both a ULA, an assistant coach for the judging team, and in both roles was a huge help to me. She came to each class with a positive attitude, always encouraging and ready to support the students and instructor. In her role as a ULA, Tati created a mock welfare scenario for the students and monitored their fact sheet submissions providing valuable practice and important feedback to the students. With such a trying semester for me, the quality of this course would have suffered had it not been for Tati. A million times over, thank you.

Jessica Kiesling: Jessica seems to be an endless well of patience, positivity, and productivity. She gives students meaningful assignments, path-plowing networking opportunities, and much-needed grace as we stumble our way into the professional world. I am so grateful to have Jessica as advisor and instructor, and the animal science community is so lucky to have her! Thank you, Jessica!

Scott Winterstein: I would like to give a huge shoutout to Dr. Winterstein for being the most exemplary mentor for the past 3 years and for his unparalleled dedication to excellence in teaching that I have witnessed the past 2 years as his Undergraduate Learning Assistant (ULA).

I met Dr. Winterstein when I was a freshman psychology major in his ISB202 course. Dr. Winterstein’s ISB202 course and our discussions after class strengthened my passion for environmental protection and showed me that I could turn my passion into a career. Near the end of the course, I changed my major to Environmental Studies and Sustainability. Now a graduating senior, Dr. Winterstein has been an amazing mentor to me and has completely shaped my career goals and introduced me to all the amazing opportunities the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) has to offer.

I have had the pleasure of working as his ULA for the last 4 semesters. In this role, I have seen him consistently go above and beyond for his students. He is incredibly committed to spreading his love of environmental science and supporting every one of his students. Dr. Winterstein’s work ethic and devotion to creating the best academic experience for his students is unparalleled. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and transition to online learning, I have seen many classes decline in quality and effort. For his ISB202 sections, I have only seen Dr. Winterstein dedicate more time and effort to perfecting his course. Moreover, he seriously takes into consideration the end of the semester surveys every time. Although he already has recorded lectures from the last two semesters online he could easily use, he re-records them every week adding new information and slight changes he makes based on survey results and careful analysis. He is extremely understanding of student difficulties, organized, and well-read. Additionally, I have seen many professors throughout my years at MSU change office hours to by appointment only, understandably, due to a lack of participation. When students would not show up to office hours due to zoom exhaustion, Dr. Winterstein opened up an extra office hour day in hopes of fitting student’s schedules better. He is always open to talking to his students about questions, related or unrelated to the course. And, many students have shared how fascinating and inspirational his memories about the history of the environmental movement and his own research is. While reading feedback he received from students on how to improve the course, a common trend I found was a deep appreciation of how enjoyable he made the science lectures through his humor and clear passion. He teaches in a way that is easily digestible to non-science major students and stimulating enough to convince me and many others to switch to science majors.

As a mentor, Dr. Winterstein has changed my life for the better. Always more than happy to help, I have asked Dr. Winterstein for endless letter of recommendation requests and his references has helped me secure over $8,000 in scholarships. Not to mention, he always forwards workshops/conferences he finds relating to environmental protection and my goals that he thinks may be of interest to me. Moreover, this year Dr. Winterstein offered to serve as the faculty advisor for my personal gap year project, a clean drinking water initiative in Mfangano Island, Kenya. Since, he has helped me apply to grants that could fund clean drinking water for 700+ residents and helped me secure an amazing summer internship.

Professor Winterstein is clearly in the top 1% of professors I have encountered at MSU based on both his dedication to his subject matter and unwavering passion in helping his students succeed. Personally, he helped me tremendously in growing from a confused freshman to a passionate and experienced professional with a clear career goal and life purpose. To be frank, MSU was not my top choice, but now I am graduating with an overwhelming sense of belonging within the CANR and forever proud to be a Spartan. His passion in helping his students inspired me to be a student mentor to a handful of CANR students and to pitch a mentorship program to the CANR Alumni Association which they will be pursuing. Thank you Dr. Winterstein for all that you do. I know the trajectory of my entire life has been significantly improved thanks to your course and mentorship. It is educators like you that make the world go round!

Aakanksha Melkani: Aakanksha is an amazing peer: she is a skillful, thoughtful woman who is as much fun to work with as she is to eat a meal or chat with! Aakanksha helps address the concerns of graduate students in her role as AFRE Graduate Student Organization Vice President. Her research work focuses on understanding marketing decisions in Zambia and trade of agricultural inputs. Aakanksha really represents excellence in all its forms :)

April Athnos: GTA April Athnos chooses to be an “usher” rather than a “gatekeeper” to knowledge for students of Ecological Economics (EEM 255). She welcomes students to identify environmental challenges and uncover the economic factors underpinning them. Said one student, “April used a variety of teaching methods, to promote an inclusive learning experience for all different types of students.” April makes the time to tailor the course to individual student needs, so that another student, “had the opportunity to write a research paper on the topic of the Coronavirus outbreak and its impact on the U.S. economy for my Honors Project.”

Ankita Bhattacharya: Ankita, is the true example of a graduate student. She started in the department as a Masters student and just recently transferred into the PhD program. Several semesters she has held the position as a TA for FSC 430, with the instructor giving her rave reviews. Ankita, is a kind student that always has a smile on her face.

Sihan Bu:

  1. Sihan is a fantastic teaching assistant. She was instrumental in the process of converting a course from in-class to synchronous online, even though she had never assisted with the course prior. The course has a lot of "moving parts", and I was very impressed with her ability to adapt and provide input. Sihan completed every task bestowed upon her, and readily took the initiative when needed. Additionally, she has been a reference for me in using R for a course I am teaching this spring. I had never used R before, and I would often reach out to her inquiring about specific codes.
  1. Sihan is such a kind person and always has a smile. She received her MS at MSU and is continuing on with her PhD. She has contributed to several different studies within the department and with a previous FSHN student at Wayne State University.

Rick Jorgensen: Rick, is one of the most delightful, enjoyable students to be around. He has continued to keep a 4.0 GPA, His first project was to establish a IgE-Western blot method for studying wheat allergenicity. He has presented at the AAI meeting. Is a co-author on an abstract, a co-author on 2 peer-reviewed papers, the list continues on. He is also the student representative for FSHN GAC, all this while being a TA for the fall and spring semesters.

Srishti LNU: From the time Srishti entered the MS program she has had a smile on her face. Almost everyday she would stop by my desk to just say Hi and have a short conversation. This is her last semester as she will be graduating, while I am so excited for her and her future, it is sad to see her go.

Chia-Lun Yang: Chia-Lun is planning on graduating summer semester. Her career goal is to become a nutrition scientist, delivering knowledge to the general public. We have no doubt that she will meet and exceed her expectations. Chia was/is a great addition to FSHN, always kind, always smiling and always helpful.

Lucas Krusinski: Lucas is in his second year and has maintained a 4.0 GPA. He is overseeing projects and training other student in techniques and completed work on two funded grants. He also presented his research findings at the annual meeting of the American Association of Animal Science, his abstract was published in their journal. FSHN is lucky to have Lucas as a Grad student.

Alyssa Harben: Alyssa Harben has engaged opportunities across the mission (teaching, research and service) more deeply than any other student that I have had the privilege to mentor. She is critical player in our research, collecting and analyzing data as well as mentoring students and actively engaging community partners. She is an excellent teacher former FAST fellow, who has engaged in critical inquiry related to teaching and learning. All of this has led to the creation of new knowledge and new scientists. Her enthusiasm is as endless as her energy and it has been to my benefit to have known her.

Anyone can recognize a fellow Spartan for their contributions to MSU's teaching and learning mission or for how they made a lasting impression on your experience. All you have to do is click "Thank an Educator" in the left panel of From there you'll see a short form where you can enter the name, netID, and a short story of the educator you'd like to recognize
Posted by:
Makena Neal #iteachmsu Educator Awards