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Ecologist Inspires Future Scientists

William 'Bill' Hoese Wins Carol Barnes Excellence in Teaching Award
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Graduating senior Alexis Bueno Correa points to biological science professor William “Bill” Hoese for mentoring and guiding her for a career in science.

“I am certain he has done the same for many other students during his teaching career,” she said. “He has demonstrated a commitment to the success of many students, including me —
encouraging us to learn more, to do more and to be more confident by creating opportunities to do that inside the classroom and in the scientific community.”

Because of the support and inspiration Hoese gives to students like Correa and for his numerous contributions to his college, department and campus community, he has been selected as this year’s recipient of Cal State Fullerton’s Carol Barnes Excellence in Teaching Award. The award acknowledges faculty who demonstrate academic rigor in teaching consistent with the University mission and goals and the mission of the California State University.

At a meeting Thursday (April 30) with his colleagues, President Mildred García made an impromptu visit. “You’re probably wondering why I’m here in the middle of your meeting,” smiled García as well-wishers trailing behind her shouted, “Surprise!” The president then announced his selection to the applause of faculty and students in the room.

“It’s an honor to be able to tell you that you are this year’s award winner,” said García, who noted Hoese’s many achievements, including his work to train the next generation of scientific leaders through research learning experiences.

“One of the things I love is that he’s been committed to high-impact practices before it was in vogue,” she said.

Speechless during the award presentation, Hoese said afterward that he is honored and teaches in hopes of influencing his students in meaningful ways so they became active, excited and engaged learners.

“I teach because I hope I can help change lives,” he said. “I know it sounds trite, but it’s true. Teaching is what I do. It’s who I am. Teaching is not one-way; it’s a dynamic flow of information, an interactive dialogue. I try to put myself in their shoes to help them make a connection with what I’m teaching.”

During his 15-year tenure on campus, Hoese has impacted the lives of nearly 3,000 students, garnered about $3 million in external research funding and has “tirelessly and selflessly” worked for the betterment of students, faculty and the University, noted Kathyrn Dickson, department chair and professor of biological science, who nominated him.

“He embodies the key concept of ‘learning science by doing science’ in very comprehensive and integrated ways that lead to successful student outcomes,” said Dickson.

Among the highlights of his teaching career is serving as co-director of the Southern California Ecosytems Research Program, which provides training for undergraduates interested in pursuing careers or graduate school in ecology or environmental biology. Since 2002, Hoese has mentored more than 60 students through the National Science Foundation program. Scholars in the program have received top honors for their research, landed careers and earned master’s degrees and doctorates.

“These results clearly indicate that Bill’s efforts have made SCERP an overwhelming success, and the achievements of the students coming out of this program have gone well beyond our expectations,” said Darren R. Sandquist, professor of biological science and program co-director. “Bill is a phenomenal educator and we are very fortunate to have him on our faculty.”

Hoese, who earned his doctorate in zoology from Duke University and bachelor’s and graduate degrees from Stanford University, also was instrumental in developing BURST, a new undergraduate research-training program. Launched last year, the three-tiered program exposes, engages and immerses undergraduates in research opportunities.

“The process of implementing BURST is an excellent example of Bill’s skill at collaboratively developing ideas, fleshing them out and mobilizing a team to execute them,” Dickson said.

Hoese’s accomplishments don’t stop with his teaching responsibilities. When he first came to campus in 2000, he was charged with co-leading the department’s transition to a new, investigative curriculum. Since then, he has helped to make innovative curriculum and course redesign changes to improve student achievement and developed a senior-level course in ornithology, the study of birds, which is among his research interests.

Correa, both a SCERP and BURST scholar, said Hoese’s ornithology class cemented her career pursuits: “To see Dr. Hoese teaching with such passion and excitement has strengthened my goal to pursue a career as an ornithologist.”