Debbie Gurfinkel, PhD

Debbie GurfinkelExcellence in Undergraduate Teaching in Life Sciences Award

Affiliation(s):     Department of Nutritional Sciences

Context(s) for Award:     In recognition of sustained excellence in undergraduate teaching in 5 courses in the Department of Nutritional Sciences: Basic Human Nutrition, Food Chemistry, Nutrition Literacy: Sorting Science from Snake Oil, Obesity: Metabolic and Clinical Aspects, and Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals.

Dr. Gurfinkel has been teaching undergraduate courses in the Department of Nutritional Sciences since 2004, covering a wide-range of nutrition-related topics. The promotion of active learning in the classroom has been a longstanding interest and she has over the years gradually shifted her teaching from traditional lectures to courses that include active learning exercises, group work, student presentations, and the use of educational technologies in and out of the classroom. The design of meaningful and authentic student assignments is a continuing challenge. Nutrition is a discipline that lends itself to the teaching of critical thinking skills both because of its importance to human health and because of the abundance of misinformation on the subject in the popular media. Dr. Gurfinkel hopes to give her students the skills to discern the science from the snake oil.

I view the classroom as my laboratory and my teaching as a continual experiment on ways to enhance the learning of students.