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W&M professor wins Neil Miner Award

  • Heather Macdonald
    Heather Macdonald  Professor Heather Macdonald, geology professor, is the recipient of the distinguished Neil Miner Award.  Stephen Salpukas
  • Heather Macdonald
    Heather Macdonald  Professor Heather Macdonald of the department of geology, is the recipient of the distinguished Neil Miner Award.  Stephen Salpukas
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Heather Macdonald, Chancellor Professor of Geology at William & Mary, has been proclaimed the winner of the Neil Miner Award by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT).

According to the NAGT Web site, the award is presented to “an individual for exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the earth sciences.”

"All of us in the geology department are so pleased that Heather has been recognized in this way,” said Brent Owens, department chair. “She has been a role-model and an inspiration to us as teachers, and to countless others across the country."
The Neil Miner Award is given annually in the memory of the late geologist and teacher Neil Miner who had a deep “concern for personal excellence and effective teaching.” Macdonald was nominated for the award by Greg Hancock, a professor of geology at William & Mary; Barbara Tewksbury of Hamilton College and Cathy Manduca  of Carleton College.
The award citation states that Heather has been instrumental in changing the face of geoscience education. She has worked tirelessly in the classroom, with graduate students and early career geoscience faculty, as an officer of NAGT, and through the role she has played in founding national, community-based programs for geosciences faculty, particularly “On the Cutting Edge” and “Building Strong Geoscience Departments.”

Each of these national programs provides support for geosciences faculty through multi-day workshops and associated Web sites. Partnering with educators from institutions across the country, Macdonald gives workshops on teaching, research, and managing academic careers and on topics related to building strong departments. 

Macdonald , who has received almost four million dollars in grants from the National Science Foundation for geoscience education work, has made a huge impact on the professional growth of geoscience faculty. Since 1999, she has organized annual four-day workshops for early career geoscience faculty on teaching, research, and career management, and since 2003, she has organized similar workshops for graduate students and post-docs.

 “There is no one in our community so well known, or so well loved by young faculty as Heather Macdonald,” said Hancock.

Macdonald is currently co-teaching a freshman seminar with Ginnie McLaughlin, dean of the William &Mary’s School of Education, and a marine geology class with Steve Kuehl from the School of Marine Science. She is also teaching College Science Teaching at VIMS. When asked about her teaching career, Macdonald noted, “I have been fortunate to work with excellent students and inspiring colleagues here and across the country, and this year has been great so far.”

 In past years, Macdonald was the recipient of Biggs Earth Science Teaching Award given by The Geological Society of America and the Thomas Jefferson Award given by the College of William & Mary.
“Receiving this award is a great honor, and I thank my colleagues here and across the country” said Macdonald.