NAGT > Divisions > Geo2YC Division > Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award > OAFA Awardees

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Annual Award Winners and Quarterly Honorees

Adjunct faculty are a key component to the Geo2YC community—they bring enthusiasm for teaching, professional experience, and creative approaches to improving student success to our classrooms. We strongly believe these colleagues should be celebrated for their efforts to enhancing geoscience education.

Each year, the Geo2YC division recognizes four quarterly honorees for their outstanding contributions to geoscience teaching at their 2-year institution. These individuals are highlighted in the division's Foundations newsletter, and provided a complimentary one-year membership to the division. From these quarterly honorees, each fall, the division votes to select the National Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award recipient. This person will be recognized at the annual Geological Society of America meeting, and will receive a $750 stipend from Pearson Publishing to use toward professional development.


Annual Winner


Quarterly Honorees

Winter 2018:

Russ Kohrs, Lord Fairfax Community College

Russ was nominated by Callan Bentley, Northern Virginia Community College.

Bentley writes, "Russ's former LFCC supervisor, Ann Simpson, reports that, "In my position as Program Lead at Lord Fairfax Community College, I have observed Russ Kohrs in action in the classroom and have been extremely impressed with his contagious enthusiasm and his desire to engage students about the wonders of geology. Russ turns rocks into stories that students find captivating." Liz Dingess, Russ's current supervisor, tells me "Russ is fabulous and is my go-to guy for geology! He is constantly trying new teaching techniques in both lecture and lab to get his students engaged and loving geology as much as he does. Russ dedicated quite a bit of time to create a new class last year for us; 'Environmental Geology'. Russ's passion and enthusiasm for his subject matter comes shining through everything I talk with him. He is the perfect candidate for this award." LFCC student reviewers said of Russ that he has "Great field trips, great passion," and that he is "absolutely amazing. Not only is he very personable and caring, but his passion for Geology and excellence in teaching are inspirational. I hate science, but his course made me love it."


Annual Winner

Wendi J. W. Williams, Northwest Arkansas Community College.

Wendi was self-nominated and writes, "I have been contributing as an Adjunct Faculty for multiple 2YC and 4YC institutions for many years. I am now in my 9th year with Northwest Arkansas Community College and University of Arkansas-Little Rock. Prior to that I have been adjunct with Austin Community College and North Harris College (now part of the Lone Star System in Houston). In addition to dedicating my time to bringing better, nationally-informed geoscience education to my community college students, I have maintained both a local and national presence through committee and board service (e.g. NAGT/Geo2YC, NWACC Faculty Senate, IAGD Executive Counselor, Triangle Coalition for STEM Education), participation in grants and fellowship reviews, and mentoring to fellow faculty (e.g. adjuncts at my current 2YC, as many are new graduates and not aware of resources for teaching or institutional processes and opportunities)."

Quarterly Honorees

Fall 2017:

Martha Murphy, Santa Rosa Junior College

Martha was nominated by Sarah Fortner, Wittenberg University.

Sarah writes, "Martha Murphy serves the broader geoscience community through sharing teaching activities in In the Trenches, sharing strategies for effective collaborative development of interdisciplinary curriculum in a 2YC session at the Earth Educator's Rendezvous, and through promoting the use of technology in the classroom (she was the lead author of an article in the 2YC newsletter on the Use of SoilWeb). Martha has also co-led a webinar on Soil Sustainability through InTeGrate that reached an audience of 60 faculty. Martha's recent contributions to the geoscience community stemmed out of her earlier work with InTeGrate co-authoring A Growing Concern: Sustaining Soil Resources through Local Decision Making. In addition, she has also reviewed 20 activities for the Cutting Edge Collection. Martha regularly teaches three or more classes a semester using a student-centered teaching style. She is a master at connecting with her students and meeting their needs through providing just-in-time resources. She has a strong sense for how teaching activities will be received by students of all abilities. As a colleague, her energy and enthusiasm propel project work to higher levels. She knows how to support success in all areas of her career through assisting students in their vocational goals and through contributing to a positive and fruitful team."

Winter 2017:

Sherry Oaks, Front Range Community College

Sherry was nominated by Sadredin Moosavi

Sadredin writes, "Sherry brings her experience and dedication to community college classrooms filled with non-traditional students whose lives reflect the challenges that come when "life happens". Her presence and patient work serve as a model for students whose lives have been stressed or less than the stereotypical ideal, who still can lead to meaningful careers in the geosciences that contribute to the community. Her background and dedication demonstrate that they are as worthy of faculty with world-class experience as their peers at R1 campuses. Sherry remains professionally active in geoscience education at all levels, currently focusing on development of virtual field trips/experiences in which the student voice is captured in educational products that help their peers whose health or circumstances limit access to the field to participate in this most important component of the geosciences."


Annual Winner

Winter 2016:

Jessica Moore, SUNY Ulster

Jessica was nominated by Steven Schimmrich, SUNY Ulster.

Schimmrich writes, "Ms. Moore has been an adjunct instructor at SUNY Ulster for several years now teaching 2-3 courses each semester. We're a small, rural community college with two full-time faculty teaching Earth sciences and we really do look upon Ms. Moore as an integral part of our team. Not only is she an excellent teacher, her energy and enthusiasm for the Earth sciences is contagious and she's responsible for recruiting many of our undecided students into additional Earth science classes and a number of them have then decided to major in geology. As an instructor, Ms. Moore constantly strives to improve her teaching and the presentation of material to the students. All of us share information back and forth (interesting papers we've read, relevant teaching information, etc.) and I would have no qualms about hiring her for a full-time position if we had one available."

Quarterly Honorees

Spring 2016:

John Maher, Johnson County Community College

John was nominated by Lynne Beatty, Johnson County Community College.

Beatty writes, "John has been invaluable to our small Geoscience Department. He volunteers! This year he has used his own free time to become certified to teach online classes, while teaching face-to-face versions as well. Due to staffing changes, he also stepped up and volunteered to teach the physical geography lab even though labs do not receive equal pay for hours taught versus lecture classes. He is his own lab assistant as well, prepping and taking down equipment. John also represented JCCC at the Kansas Core Outcomes Group, a state-wide course assessment committee. He did not have to do any of these things to keep teaching at JCCC; yet he did. He gives so much of himself to our college and our students. John Maher is definitely worthy of the Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award."

Fall 2015:

Bernie Dougan, Whatcom Community College

Bernie was nominated by Kaatje Kraft, Whatcom Community College.

Kaatje states, ""Bernie is an instrumental part of the geology department at Whatcom. We are a department of two, and he helps to make this program thrive. [W]hen I first arrived, Bernie helped to bring me up to speed in the basics of materials, equipment, and workspace. Every quarter, he offers field trips for his students on the weekends. This quarter, he has arranged (and has for every other year) for a geology field trip by boat to the San Juan Islands for a mapping project of his [historical geology] students. Because he made this arrangement before I got here, [my students and I] are able to benefit, by making it a combined historical geology and oceanography field trip. Bernie is here during breaks and on his non-teaching days preparing and making the learning experience for his students an outstanding one. His [Discovering Geology] is part of a series he helped to develop with chemistry, physics, and biology faculty that support future teachers as part of an innovative and inquiry-driven curriculum. Students rave about their experiences in his classroom and faculty at our transfer institution (Western Washington) describe how well prepared students are coming from WCC. This is largely attributable to Bernie's dedication. He is an outstanding faculty member and I am privileged to work with him as a colleague."

Summer 2015:
Robert Rohrbaugh, El Paso Community College

Robert was nominated by Joshua Villalobos, Associate Professor of Geological Sciences at EPCC.

Joshua states, "Whenever I hear the phrase "outstanding adjunct" my mind immediately thinks of one individual: Rob Rohrbaugh. His work and passion has not only made the geology department at EPCC a more effective teaching environment, but more importantly, has opened new doors for our students in geoscience education. Rob has been teaching at EPCC for over 8 years as an enthusiastic adjunct whose passion and energy for geology exceeds that of most geologists I know. Rob started his path in geoscience education as a High School Dual Credit (DC) Geology Instructor for the El Paso Independent School District. As a DC instructor, Rob was able to channel his passion, knowledge, and experiences in geology to his high school students who took his class for college level credit. Rob always went above and beyond the average college curriculum for his high school students, illustrating to them what a geoscientist truly does in the field. His pedagogy and extra-curricular activities showed his students the true value of a geology education and how their age, race, and backgrounds were not limiting factors in their success in his class, or in understanding geology. Soon after starting his position as a DC instructor, Rob began teaching at EPCC with the same remarkable results. Rob's enthusiasm and passion made him one of the most popular adjuncts, and he was responsible for converting several students to declare Geology as their major at EPCC. However, his passion for geo-education does not end in the classroom. On his own, Rob created a program called GEO-Ventures El Paso in 2012 ( This program is geared to get EPCC students, and members of our local community, to participate in educational geology hikes, tours, and multi-day camping trips in our region. All of his GEOVentures El Paso activities include curriculum that he develops on his own and are tied to ongoing learning goals and objectives in our geology department at EPCC. It is difficult to sum up the work and effects of these efforts Rob has provided for us at EPCC and to our students in just two paragraphs. But then again, knowing Rob he would say that this recommendation is already two paragraphs too long!"


Annual Winner

Spring 2015:
Karen Bridges, Howard Community College

Karen was nominated for this recognition by Sharon Lyon

Sharon writes "I nominate Professor Karen Bridges for the National Association of Geoscience Teachers Geo2YC Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award. Karen has taught at Howard Community College since Fall 2010, as an adjunct instructor, advancing to Senior Adjunct Instructor. Karen has taught Physical Geology, Oceanography, Earth & Space Science and Technical Physical Science at HCC. She was the first to teach Oceanography as a face-to-face class at HCC (it had been previously offered only online), and she was responsible for developing all of the curricula for her class, including her lecture powerpoints, class activities, homework assignments, quizzes and tests. She has joined in the college's Sustainability efforts, incorporated sustainability activities into her Oceanography and Geology classes. In addition, for the past 2 summers, Karen has been a faculty member on our Bermuda Science – Study Abroad Program, at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences. Although being a faculty member in Bermuda may sound like an undemanding assignment, it actually is a lot of work. Karen was responsible for students on boats, snorkeling both in the daytime and at night, on fieldtrips on land, and in transit at airports. She was responsible for handling student issues and crises, which included everything from seasickness to ant infestations. She handled everything in her usual cheerful, yet calm manner.

To observe Ms. Bridges in the classroom is to see a master teacher at work. Her enthusiasm is contagious, as often commented on by students. She is equally as enthusiastic in teaching about sedimentary rocks as she is about chemical bonds. She has a special affinity for breaking complex ideas into manageable learning elements, and she uses many active learning activities and strategies in her classroom. Ms. Bridges is adept at using the Learning Management System, Canvas. She has taught face-to-face, hybrid and online courses. Her student evaluations are consistently outstanding. This past semester one of Karen's students, from the Earth & Space Science class, which is for education majors/future teachers, commented that, "while the class was good, Prof. Bridges was great and being in Prof. Bridge's class made me want to be a better teacher in my own classroom." Because of her hard work, her enthusiastic teaching style, and her willingness to go the extra mile for her students, I believe that Professor Karen Bridges deserves to be recognized by NAGT."

Quarterly Honorees

Fall 2014:

Michael Whittier, Modesto Junior College

Michael was nominated by Garry Hayes (Professor of Geology at Modesto Junior College).

Garry writes "Mike is a well-regarded member of our division who has taught courses on a part-time basis for more than a decade. He is popular with his students, and a large number of them decide to pursue a geology/earth science major. Even though it isn't required of adjunct faculty, he has participated in division meetings, and has volunteered in our field studies programs. Mike has also supported earth science education in our region by serving as the president of the Mother Lode Mineral Society, leading rock hounding trips and organizing the yearly mineral show in Turlock, considered one of the best in California."

Winter 2015:
L. Cameron Mosher, Salt Lake Community College

Cameron was nominated for this recognition by Maura Hahnenberger.

Maura writes "Cameron started at Salt Lake Community College in developmental math after he was encouraged to become a college instructor by a student he was tutoring. He joined the Geosciences department as an adjunct in 2013. Since joining the department, he has shown a strong commitment to student learning and engagement not only in his courses, but throughout the department. Cam spearheaded a reorganization of the geology lab into learning "pods" that would facilitate group activities and interaction. All instructors in the lab have had a positive impact from this change, indicating that it is more conducive to student-centered learning and an engaging classroom environment. Cam has also created an extensive library of online lecture videos and quizzes. These videos are used to "flip the classroom" or to enhance student learning outside of class. The commitment and time Cam put toward these video learning aids has not been matched by any of our other adjunct instructors. Finally, Cam brings his career of empowerment training to the classroom and helps students explore what their place is in the world--not just in the world of geology, but also how we fit into the complex universe around us. This broad perspective, combined with student-centered learning, has made Cam invaluable to the Geosciences department."


Annual Winner

Michelle Selvans, Northern Virginia Community College

Dr. Michelle Selvans has been a member of the geology faculty at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) since 2012. Her instructional style is engaging and relevant to the diverse student body, and has received praise from students and observers of her Physical Geology, Field Study (Geology on the National Mall), and Historical Geology courses. She has fostered connections with colleagues within NOVA to develop her understanding of local field sites and specialized lab equipment, and has participated in training sessions and successfully implemented relevant technology in her classroom. Michelle has also developed her teaching skills through workshops offered through On the Cutting Edge, professional conference settings, the Virginia Community College System, and NOVA, during her time at NOVA. She has also shared insights into encouraging critical thinking in introductory Geology courses with the geoscience education community, based on her experience at NOVA and in collaboration with colleagues at four-year universities, at the 2013 Geological Society of America Annual Meeting. In addition, when the committee inquired about Michelle, she was described by a colleague (who also happens to be the editor of this newsletter) as "top notch." Lastly, after the committee made their decision, we were notified that she was submitting to the newsletter for this month. Yet one more indicator of the strong commitment she has for our community.

Quarterly Honorees

Fall 2013:

Christopher Khourey, Northern Virginia Community College

Chris was nominated by Callan Bentley.

Callan writes "Chris Khourey has been a dependable, innovative member of the adjunct faculty in geology at Northern Virginia Community College for most of the time I've been there - at least five years. During that time, Chris has taught at two different NOVA campuses, Alexandria and Annandale. In these two places, 12 Chris has mastered teaching both our introductory level courses, Physical and Historical Geology. His approach to methodical lectures, the sharing of detailed lecture notes, and involved labs is deeply appreciated by his students. He puts in extra time, uncompensated in any way, tutoring his students in our "Science Learning Center." This is unusual, and commendable. In addition, he has developed brand new 1-credit field courses focused on exploring the geological story behind two iconic mountains in our region, Stony Man (Shenandoah National Park, Virginia), and Sugarloaf (near Comus, Maryland - the "only mountain in the Piedmont"). Last summer, Chris joined my own field class, a four-credit Regional Field Geology of the Northern Rocky Mountains. He audited the class for professional development, and collected samples, photos, and ideas that he now employs in his classes at NOVA. This sort of initiative and dedication to self-improvement impresses me deeply. Chris is a man of sterling character and commitment to his students. I have found him to be utterly dependable, professional in demeanor, and thoughtful and considerate to a degree I hadn't thought possible. It's an honor to have him as a colleague."

Winter 2014:
Rebecca Carmody, Howard Community College, Columbia, MD.

Rebecca was nominated by Sharon Lyon at Howard Community College.

Sharon writes "Dr. Carmody has been teaching at Howard Community College since Fall 2008. Prior to coming to HCC, she taught Earth Science at Chelsea School, a school for children with learning differences. At HCC, Dr. Carmody has taught Physical Geology, Earth and Space Science, Meteorology, Technical Physical Science lab, and Inorganic Chemistry lab. This semester she has taken over the Astronomy lecture and lab online courses. Dr. Carmody has taught face-to-face, hybrid and online sections, with multiple preps during every semester. She has taught day, evening and Saturday classes. She came to HCC as a student in the online astronomy course to update her teaching certification, and while she has been an instructor at HCC she has taken meteorology and chemistry courses as refreshers. Dr. Carmody is an extremely dedicated and hard-working instructor. She has developed and led geology fieldtrips, including trips to the Woodstock Dome, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and the Prince Georges County Dinosaur Park. She has developed Sky Watch and Planetarium exercises, and has spent many (cold) evenings on the student patio at HCC and at Alpha Ridge Park in Howard County, teaching students how to identify celestial objects and use a telescope. Dr. Carmody is highly respected by her students and her student reviews are consistently outstanding. She is ready and willing to step in when needed and works tirelessly for the good of the Science, Engineering & Technology Division at Howard Community College."

Summer 2014:
Thomas Vaughn, Middlesex Community College

Thomas has received several prestigious teaching awards, including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science; the Massachusetts Science Teacher of the Year; the Massachusetts Science Leader of the Year; the Distinguished Alumni from Boston University, UMass/Lowell, and Lesley University; and the Pathfinder Award for innovative use of technology in the classroom by the state of Massachusetts.

Thomas teaches Introduction to Oceanography and Marine Biology and Environmental Studies at Middlesex Community College, where his students value the high quality of his instruction. Regarding this role, he feels that "... the topics we [Geoscience faculty] teach are extremely important for the future of our planet. I have always devoted the necessary time and effort into my student lessons so that they learn significant content about Planet Earth. Some of my students have chosen to go on into majors in the geosciences." In addition to the Middlesex community, Thomas is also a highly valued and active member of the Geoscience Education community. In this role, he has served two terms as the President of the NAGT New England Section, served on his campus's Science Standards Revision Committee, and has had important input into the formulation of earth science standards in Massachusetts since 1996.


Quarterly Honorees

Winter 2013:
Joseph van Gaalen, Edison State College

Joe was nominated by Dr. Rozalind Jester. Rosalind writes

"Joe embodies all the characteristics of what we expect from our full-time faculty and I have been fortunate to work closely with him over the last several years. Joe makes a point to participate in departmental projects, meetings and discussions, as well as contribute to curriculum development. He does all of this (without extra compensation I may add) because he is committed to the College and our students. In fact, Joe developed the entire lecture and lab curriculum for our Physical Geology course, an area where Edison lacks a full-time faculty member. Joe also contributed a significant amount of time and effort to help design and write a custom lab manual that is now used throughout our oceanography courses. His positive attitude & flexible nature has made him a real asset to our department! Joe is committed, not just to our department, but also to his student's success. As an adjunct, he makes himself very accessible to his students and is always willing to spend extra time to help them if needed. I often hear from students that "Prof vG" is always so excited about the material he presents in class and they relate to his enthusiasm. It's true; he is very passionate about Earth sciences & genuinely loves teaching at the introductory level! From our collaborations, I know that he is constantly trying to think of ways he can better relate challenging science concepts to our students, many of whom are under prepared for college level science courses. Joe knows how to turn what some might see as "dry" science into an engaging trip through our planet & its habitats. I have no doubt that in the end Joe has his student's best interest at heart and I truly think he deserves recognition as an Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Member!"

Spring 2013:
Roy (Rick) Nixon, Georgia Perimeter College

Rick was nominated by Dr. Pamela Gore.

Pamela writes "Dr. Rick Nixon has been teaching Geology classes part-time for us at Georgia Perimeter College since 2007. When I have observed his classes, he has consistently had high quality presentations, which have kept students interested and involved. He keeps his classes fun and entertaining for the students. He relates Geology topics to the students' lives, such as pointing out clues to geologic hazards to look for when they look for a home to purchase. He also treats the students with respect and works to find the approach with each student that meets their needs and maximizes their success in the class. Rick also teaches the students how to study, and designs his courses to build in repetition to help students retain certain facts and principles. He also designs exercises that require students to use basic geologic principles that they have learned in class. I have been impressed that Dr. Nixon has taken the initiative to suggest improvements to our labs, and that he uses his own money to purchase supplemental lab specimens and to photocopy packets of helpful handouts for students to use in lab each week. His handouts are so good that I have adopted some of them to use with my own classes. Dr. Nixon loves teaching Geology so much that he spares no expense or effort to make his classes the best possible. Dr. Nixon teaches both on-campus and online lectures and laboratory sections. He is very cooperative and will do everything he can to help us. He is the ideal adjunct instructor and I highly recommend him for this award."

Rick responded saying, "This would not have been possible without the outstanding support from Dr. Carl McAllister, my Chair, and Dr. Pam Gore, my good friend and mentor. Working with students at Perimeter College is challenging and rewarding. Earlier this year, I was greeted by a student from several years ago. He had a good job, and his life was headed for more good things. That I may have had a small part in his success was a personal reminder of the importance of a good education."