23 March 2023. DMS is proud to share that Prof. Catherine Matassa has been selected for a 2023 UConn-AAUP Excellence Award in the Early Career Teaching category. This is well deserved, because since joining our department, Catherine has distinguished herself as one of the most cherished, effective and innovative educators for undergraduate and graduate students of our Department and CLAS. Her enthusiasm for Marine Biology and her innovative approach to teaching Quantitative Methods and Experimental Design are a true enrichment to students and faculty alike.
Here are some excerpts of what colleagues and students had to say about Catherine's teaching:
"In addition to providing the foundational basis of marine ecosystems, she facilitates transformative learning experiences with hands-on laboratory and field activities where students apply their knowledge and conduct independent research. Courses where students conduct independent research require much larger investment of time and energy from the instructor." Prof. Heidi Dierssen
"Almost from the time I arrived at UConn in 1995, I heard colleagues in Marine Sciences discussing the need for an Experimental Design/Statistics course for our students. Being located at Avery Point has always limited our participation in Storrs-based classes, so we tried, and failed, several times to develop a course of our own. When Catherine arrived, the problem was solved. Her class, MARN 4210Q Experimental Design in Marine Ecology, covers the basics of hypothesis testing and gives students a good working knowledge of R, the state-of-the-art computing environment for scientific statistics." Prof. George McManus
"Catherine created the experimental design and analysis course to address the demand for a course that covered statistics, coding and design. The course provided us with real data to run analyses on in R and posed questions, which we addressed with experimental design. The homework was dynamic and helped me hone my abilities coding in R and interpreting statistical results. I took a statistics class during my undergraduate studies but gained a much better understanding of analyses with Catherine's hands-on approach." Kayla Mladinich, PhD student
"I took Dr. Matassa’s Marine Biology course in the Fall of 2022. I personally was impressed with how innovative and diverse the content that she included in the class was. The laboratory experiments perfectly complemented the lecture period and helped me relate the information on the slides to real life situations. The ability to write and explore our own independent projects as well provided creative freedom that many other class labs seem to be lacking, and she did well to encourage critical thinking and exemplify how our experiments relate to real marine problems. Her inclusion of science communication in the curriculum was also a refreshing innovation to the lecture period, and something I had not experienced before in a STEM class." Greg Aniolek, undergraduate student
"Dr. Matassa coordinated an engaging field trip to Avery Point that was an exciting opportunity for students to expand their knowledge outside of the classroom. This opportunity included a tour of the Long Island Sound on a Project Oceanography research boat. While the tour was guided by two Project Oceanography educators, Dr. Matassa took every chance to communicate additional information that related to our classroom studies and energetically answered the questions that were raised. Dr. Matassa had something interesting and relevant to say about every species that we collected on the boat." Lukas Liebowitz, Senior Biology Major 2023