Published June 27, 2022
The Department of Biological Sciences is pleased to announce that Dr. Jessica Poulin, Clinical Associate Professor, and, Barbara McCabe, Instructional Supoort Staff, have each received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence. The Chancellor’s Awards acknowledge and provide system-wide recognition for consistently superior professional achievement and the ongoing pursuit of excellence. See the UB Now story, here.
Jessica Poulin, PhD, is the recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award honors those who consistently demonstrate superb teaching at the undergraduate, graduate or professional level. Since joining UB in 2008, Poulin has gained recognition among peers and students as an exceptional teacher and mentor, earning praise from hundreds of students in her classes. She encourages students to contact her for help during and outside of her well-attended office hours — a proactive approach that helped keep students connected and engaged during the pandemic.
Poulin’s successes extend well beyond her own teaching. Paying close attention to emerging knowledge in STEM pedagogy, she has played an influential role in efforts to improve student achievement and retention in the Department of Biological Sciences and at UB.
She helped revamp UB’s general education curriculum, transformed her department’s undergraduate honors program, developed a biology-focused writing course, and redesigned BIO 200, a large introductory lecture and lab. Colleagues credit this course with catalyzing tremendous growth in the number of biology majors at UB.
Additionally, Poulin teaches a summer “boot camp” that prepares high school students for the rigors of a university science curriculum, and serves as an active member of the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) program to recruit, train and retain women students in STEM disciplines at UB. In collaboration with two UB faculty members, she created POP! WORLD, an engaging simulation program that introduces students to concepts of evolutionary biology.
Dr. Poulin is past recipient of the Milton Plesur Excellence in Teaching Award, the UB Teaching Innovation Award, and the 2022 Mid-American Conference (MAC) Outstanding Faculty Award for Student Success.
Barbara McCabe received The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service honors professional staff performance excellence “both within and beyond the position.”
McCabe’s colleagues in the Department of Biological Sciences call her a “natural problem solver” and “the guru of the teaching labs.” As an instructional support technician, she has a broad range of responsibilities, including maintaining inventory and functionality of teaching laboratory equipment, preparing educational exhibits and demonstrations, maintaining inventory and ordering supplies for instructional labs, and providing training and supervision to teaching assistants assigned to laboratory sections. She also troubleshoots lab exercises and provides critical input in the development of new labs and laboratory instruction in the curriculum. She manages more than 1,000 students and more than 50 lab sections.
As labs were converted to an online format during the pandemic, she worked closely with faculty during the 2020 spring break to create video recordings of her performing the semester’s remaining labs for students to review. Building on this work, she recorded herself performing the remaining labs to create a fully online lab program for the spring 2021 semester.
Dedicated to improving students’ overall educational experience, McCabe decided to address the dearth of comfortable seating for biological sciences students in the Cooke-Hochstetter complex. Looking for a cost-effective solution, she learned that the libraries had furniture available from a recent remodeling. With the help of her colleagues, she acquired and moved more than 30 chairs and several large tables to her department and placed them throughout the second floor. She then found remnants of UB blue-and-white fabric and reupholstered the chairs herself. To complete the transformation, McCabe decorated the walls with students’ research posters and decorated the tables with UB decals she had made.