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Published April 22, 2019
An outstanding teacher and mentor, whose creative approach and caring demeanor engage and encourage her students, is a recipient of a top teaching award at the University of Wyoming.
Pamela Langer, an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Biology, is one of three recipients of the John P. Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award. The award was established in 1977 by businessman John P. “Jack” Ellbogen to “foster, encourage and reward excellence in classroom teaching at UW.” Other Ellbogen winners are Scott Freng, a senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology, and Dana Robertson, executive director of the Literary Research Center and Clinic and an associate professor of elementary and early childhood education.
“One of the most remarkable attributes that Pam brings to the classroom is an amazing dedication to her students,” says Jay Gatlin, an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Biology. “She absolutely cares about each and every one of them and, because of this, she works tirelessly to maximize the impact of their learning experience.”
A former teaching assistant (TA) agrees.
“Dr. Langer’s work ethic, dedication and humility cannot go understated,” says Kourtney Puckett, a UW graduate and a physician assistant student at Union College in Lincoln, Neb. “If only all students could be TAs to see how much effort Dr. Langer gives to her students’ learning.”
Langer primarily teaches “Clinical Biochemistry,” a 4000-level course within her department, and “Molecular and Cellular Basis of Disease,” a first-year course for medical students in the WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) Medical Education Program.
To help increase students’ understanding of the material, Langer creates active-learning opportunities such as “Human Illustrations.” These activities are plays that she writes and directs in which students enact complex biochemical, molecular and physiological processes.
Current and former students note that these creative exercises, combined with Langer’s enthusiasm, leave an impression.
“She consistently goes above and beyond by implementing innovative active-learning techniques and by continuously vetting her curriculum to ensure it is up-to-date and accurate,” says Trey Thompson, a first-year medical student at UW.
“Her motivation and optimism are contagious and infect anyone who has not only the chance, but also the honor of working with her,” says Stanley DeVore, a UW graduate and medical student at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. “She both inspires and empowers people to achieve their full potential.”
In addition to her teaching duties, Langer serves as the curriculum coordinator for the Department of Molecular Biology, and she is one of the regional curriculum developers for WWAMI. She has been instrumental in developing and incorporating active-learning strategies into courses in both areas.
“Dr. Langer’s pioneering role in active-learning pedagogy for medical education has served as a model for WWAMI instructors in Wyoming as well as across the five-state WWAMI region,” says Tim Robinson, WWAMI director at UW.
Since joining UW in 1986, she has received numerous advising and teaching awards, including the Outstanding Educator Award from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She has been honored seven times as a “Top Prof” by members of UW’s chapter of Mortar Board, a national college senior honor society.
Langer earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences (1973) from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in biology (1980) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.