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Buss Receives UW’s Ellbogen Lifetime Teaching Award

June 29, 2020
man in field of virtual bubbles
Alan Buss, here using UW’s Shell 3D Visualization Center to instruct his students on how to teach about molecular structures, is the recipient of UW’s 2020 John P. Ellbogen Lifetime Teaching Award. (UW Photo)

A longtime University of Wyoming faculty member dedicated to improving the instruction of science, technology, engineering and mathematics has been recognized with the 2020 John P. Ellbogen Lifetime Teaching Award.

Alan Buss, professor and incoming director of the College of Education’s School of Teacher Education, earned the annual accolade that recognizes the long, distinguished and exemplary career of one senior faculty member who has excelled as a teacher at UW.

“Dr. Buss has an excellent teaching record over multiple contexts and for time periods that span decades of teaching excellence, both in university settings as well as in K-12 professional development settings,” says Dean Ray Reutzel, who was among those nominating Buss for the honor. “Alan is quite simply a teacher par excellence and an innovator in teaching using a variety of 21st century technologies to do so -- whether that is application of technologies to the supervision of student-teachers at a distance or teaching in his elementary science methods classroom.”

“Alan is a vibrant and generous colleague, a tireless and visionary leader, and an excellent role model for teachers across our state,” adds Associate Professor Jonathan Prather, director of UW’s Life Sciences Program.

Buss, who has been a member of UW’s faculty since 1997, has carried a 65 percent instructional load for most of his career, teaching courses including math and science pedagogy for senior elementary education majors, as well as graduate courses in curriculum and science education. He consistently receives high evaluations from his students; the average rating on a 5-point scale over the past decade is 4.59.

“Dr. Buss always took the time to listen to me and showed a level of humility that, as an international student, I was not used to seeing in a faculty member,” says Igor Akpovo, a former doctoral student of Buss who is now at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. “He always strived to connect with his students, was attentive to their needs and was always there when he was needed.”

Buss has mentored 31 master’s students and five doctoral students to completion, and he is currently mentoring six other doctoral students.

In addition to teaching and mentoring UW students, Buss has worked with teachers from 46 of Wyoming’s 48 school districts on topics ranging from LEGO robotics, to integrating children’s literature in science, to using satellite imagery to study changes in communities over time.

“Since I met and began working with Dr. Buss in 2008, I have been inspired by and seen the impact of his teaching and mentorship on many Wyoming educators and UW students,” says Leslie Cook, senior director of Teton Science Schools’ Teacher Learning Center. “It is clear to me, through my experiences, that Dr. Buss is a lifelong learner committed to sharing his knowledge, research and passions with other educators and pre-service teachers.”

Among his other academic achievements, Buss was the director of the Education Public Access Resource Center, a five-state consortium of educators who worked to improve geospatial education, from 2001-2012. He also served on the Education Standing Committee for the prestigious Earth Science Information Partners Federation from 2001-2011.

Buss received his bachelor’s (1989) and master’s (1993) degrees from Brigham Young University; and his Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction (1998) from UW.

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