Bevilacqua, Gray, Scherer named 2020 Penn State Teaching Fellows

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Philip Bevilacqua, distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry and molecular biology in the Eberly College of Science (ECoS); Gary Gray, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics in the College of Engineering and Cory Scherer, associate professor of psychology at Penn State Schuylkill; have received the Alumni/Student Award for Excellence in Teaching and have been named 2020 Penn State Teaching Fellows.

The Penn State Alumni Association, in conjunction with undergraduate and graduate governing bodies, established the award in 1988. It honors distinguished teaching and provides encouragement and incentive for excellence in teaching. Recipients are expected to share their talents and expertise with others throughout the University system during the year following the award presentation.

Philip Bevilacqua

Philip Bevilacqua Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

In 2015, Bevilacqua, who is a distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry and molecular biology, was selected as a Center for Excellence in Science Education (CESE) Tombros Fellow in the Eberly College of Science. His fellow project was to integrate technologies into Honors General Chemistry to increase student engagement and learning. Additionally, he shared new expertise with colleagues so that effective new approaches could be integrated into the larger general chemistry classrooms.

One nominator said, “Dr. Bevilacqua helped me become a more dedicated learner … he considerably brightened my Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings.” Another noted, “He is a true team player, and always manages to foster positive discussions and bring out the best in his students.”

His teaching philosophy is pointed: “Understand how a student thinks, try to inspire, and above all else, be approachable.”

Bevilacqua has a research group of 10 students and postdoctoral students and believes that teaching inspires research, and the research inspires teaching. He has published more than 20 peer-reviewed articles with undergraduates and mentored more than 50 undergraduates. He has been an advisory board member of ECoS’ Center for Excellence in Science Education since its inception in 2010 and has played a critical role in fostering that community by bringing in evidence-based approaches to teaching and learning in chemistry. In his classroom and as department head he has displayed a strong commitment to climate and diversity.

Gary Gray

Gray has been an associate professor since 2000. Prior to that, he served as an assistant professor in the same department since 1994. In his role, he teaches and advises students in introductory and advanced mechanics and computational courses, particularly statics, dynamics, honors dynamics and strength of materials.

In addition to his teaching portfolio, Gray is equally committed to advising and mentoring each of the 185 undergraduate honors students in the engineering science honors major through individual interactions and meetings at least once each semester. His preparatory work with teaching assistants includes immersive experiences to provide them with excellent training for the professoriate.

“Dr. Gray is an exceptional teacher, educator, scholar, mentor, advisor, and contributor to the profession,” one nominator said. “He brings the latest science and technology innovations to his classrooms and presents them to his students in an entertaining and challenging way. He inspires all with whom he interacts.”

Gray’s teaching philosophy is simple: Demand rigor and excellence from students but be benevolent when assessing and grading their work. Be engaging, be fun, be fair and treat the students with respect.

Gray has co-authored two textbooks in engineering mechanics. The American Society of Engineering Education has presented him with numerous awards for papers and presentations and appointed him in leadership roles of program chair and division chair.

Cory Scherer

Cory Scherer  Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Scherer has been an associate professor since 2013. Prior to that, he served as an assistant professor in the same department since 2007. In his role, he teaches psychology classes in research methods, personality theory, and social psychology.

In addition to the classroom, Scherer serves as a member of the commonwealth campus psychology disciplinary executive committee. He also serves as the assistant director of academic affairs at Penn State Schuylkill by coordinating assessments through offered degree programs.

“Dr. Scherer encourages you to move beyond any feelings of intimidation you might encounter with the intent of advocating for yourself and your education,” a nominator said.

His teaching philosophy is student-centered: “I want to make sure I am doing everything I can to allow my students to get the most out of their time at Penn State Schuylkill and use it in their lives beyond college.”

Scherer was the recipient of the Penn State Schuylkill Excellence in Teaching Award and the University President’s Fund for Research which focuses on the engagement of undergraduates in research. Scherer has presented at five national conferences with students and published more than a dozen peer-reviewed articles. He also serves as editor-in-chief of “Psychological Reports,” a bi-monthly peer-reviewed journal that publishes original and creative contributions to the field of general psychology.

Last Updated March 27, 2020