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Published June 05, 2023
University of Wyoming students, past and present, in Sreejayan Nair’s various classes say his personality, caring nature, energy and preparation make him an outstanding teacher.
Nair, a professor in the School of Pharmacy, is one of three recipients of the 2023 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.” This year’s other recipients of the award are Karagh Brummond, an assistant instructional professor in the Honors College, and Noah Novogrodsky, a professor in the College of Law.
“Dr. Nair is an outstanding teacher whose excellence in the classroom is driven by his passion for student learning. It would be challenging to identify a person who is more committed to student learning than Sree,” says Kem Krueger, dean of the School of Pharmacy, who nominated Nair for the honor. “In fact, I sometimes wish I could take a sabbatical under his direction to learn how to teach more effectively.”
“Dr. Nair’s personality is a vital component to his success as an educator. His innate ability to suppress debilitating stress within the academic environment is a unique talent,” says Matthew McBride, a 2024 UW Doctor of Pharmacy candidate. “This asset is a testament to his calming disposition and commitment to a conducive learning environment. Dr. Nair is an authentic human being. He has genuine care for all people and is invested in the personal success of his students.”
Dane Patey, a medical student in his third year of the WWAMI Medical Education Program, says Nair brings an energy to the classroom that “is completely infectious.”
“He engages with the subject matter with complete mastery and teaching, not by lecturing but asking and challenging his students to think through difficult problems, ultimately helping them understand the material more completely,” Patey says.
Former students Daulton Grube and Trey Thompson who are now medical doctors -- at the University of Utah Health Pediatric Clinic and the University of Washington Department of Surgery, respectively -- commended Nair, who was their pharmacology professor during the didactic portion of their first two years of medical school through the WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) Medical Education Program.
“His ability to take course material and make it relevant to our board exams and clinical experiences helped all of us on our path to becoming doctors,” the two wrote in their nomination letter.
John Willford, a UW clinical associate professor and assistant director of the WWAMI Medical Education Program, marvels at Nair’s approach to active learning, citing Nair’s sessions that included mini-reviews, newly crafted or revised diagrams, practice questions, historical or cultural nuggets, and an overall fun atmosphere.
Over the past 14 years, Nair has been recognized 11 times with awards for his teaching in the pharmacy and WWAMI programs. He was named Teacher of the Year in the UW School of Pharmacy in both 2008 and 2019. As a principal investigator, he has received funding for 30 grants.
He is currently chair of the Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences; director of the Biomedical Sciences Interdisciplinary Graduate Program; mentoring director of the Wyoming Sensory Biology Center of Biomedical Research Excellence; and a professor of pharmacology.
Nair received his Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences; his master’s degree in medicinal chemistry; and his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy, all from Mangalore University in India.