Converse College biology professor Dr. Hatice Neval Erturk was presented with the 2008 Excellence in Teaching Award sponsored by South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Inc. (SCICU) during an April 15 dinner in Columbia, SC. Each of the 20 member institutions of the consortium selects one faculty member to receive the award.
The award includes a $3,000 professional development stipend that can be used as desired by the faculty member, with the approval of the nominating college. Erturk plans to use the stipend as a grant for developing new cell culture and tissue techniques.
A native of Turkey, Erturk joined the Converse faculty in 2006. Her hallmark approach to teaching is creating an environment where students take an active role in the learning process. She is known for structuring her courses so that students with a wide variety of learning styles and backgrounds master both the content and the theoretical approach central to each course. She has been especially active in securing grants that bring the best equipment and resources to the undergraduate classroom in addition to sponsoring several SCICU-funded student research grants.
Converse President Betsy Fleming says, “Dr. Erturk combines research and teaching in a way that fosters creativity in science—the signature of a Converse education.” Dr. Jeffrey Barker, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Converse adds, “Neval Erturk has the energy and devotion to students so important in a successful teacher.”
Erturk’s research interest lays in investigation of the effects of environmental pollutants at the cellular and genetic levels. She directed a research project sponsored by SCICU on the topic of genotoxic affects of pesticide with Converse student Kimberly Shorter. The research project won first place for the best poster presentation at the South Carolina Environmental Conference and the best student presentation award at Fourth Annual USC Upstate Research Symposium in April 2008.
Utilizing her interdisciplinary approach, Erturk has teamed with other Converse faculty across the liberal arts spectrum in research. She and psychology professor Dr. Richard Keen led students in an investigation of the effects of caffeine on time perception, a project that earned the best student presentation award at the Georgia Undergraduate Research Symposium in early April. She is currently working with theatre professor Brent Glenn in the development of an honors course in which students assume the roles of key players in a staged reenactment of a historical event. Students will actively engage scientific material and distill it into dramatic text for the purpose of producing a staged living reenactment of the belief systems encountered within the scientific data. Modeled after the Reacting to the Past curriculum pioneered at Barnard College, the course will be offered in Spring 2009 and will be a unique piece of science theatre indigenous to Converse. Along with Converse chemistry professor Dr. Sheri Strickland, Erturk co-directs the interdisciplinary CSI Converse summer workshops, a vital part of Converse’s outreach to the community youth in engaging and motivating them towards sciences.
“Neval is an energetic and enthusiastic professor who has a deep commitment to high quality science education at Converse. She has shown herself to b