Linsey Marr receives Excellence in Teaching Award

Linsey Marr, the Charles P. Lunsford Professor in Engineering in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering, has earned the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL).

The award, presented by the CETL to approximately nine Virginia Tech faculty members each academic year, recognizes a faculty member’s effective, engaged, and dynamic approaches and achievements as an educator.

“I’m incredibly honored by this recognition,” Marr said. “In addition to my dedication to research, I put a lot of effort into trying to teach effectively, and I hope that students in my classes can take away knowledge and skills that they will use in the future.”

Among the pillars of CETL are to help advance experiential learning at Virginia Tech and to improve student learning through research-based instructional practices and student-centered design. Marr said her personal approach to teaching parallels this philosophy as she seeks to engage students in the material while conveying knowledge and skills that they will retain even after leaving her classes.

“My teaching style combines rigorous theory with practical applications and current events,” Marr said. “To emphasize the relevance of course material to real life, I begin most of my lectures with a news story, and then I try to weave personal connections into the ensuing discussion.”

Marr said the most meaningful teaching experiences are the “a-ha” moments when the student reaches a new level of understanding of the material.

“This can be something as small as figuring out the key to solving a tough homework problem or as comprehensive as appreciating what they have learned over the entire semester,” Marr said. “I find it especially rewarding to hear from students after the class is over, whether the next day or years later, that they learned a lot from my class.”

Marc Edwards, University Distinguished Professor and the Charles P. Lunsford Professor in the Charles E. Via Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said Marr is one of the most engaging, devoted, and talented teachers he has encountered.

“Even more impressive is how Dr. Marr’s students routinely exceed their personal expectations of what is possible,” Edwards said. “Students come out of her class with a life-altering experience of striving and achieving.”

Marr received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. She has published over 80 peer-reviewed journal articles and more than 100 papers and presentations at conference and professional meetings. More than one-quarter of Marr’s papers have been published in Environmental Science & Technology/Environmental Science & Technology Letters, the leading journal in the field of environmental science and engineering.

Marr always takes the opportunity to offer encouragement and advice to new teaching faculty when she can. “One thing I could recommend is aim to cover less material than you think you can in one lecture,”  Marr said. “It is more important to cover material in a way that students can understand than to simply cover a lot of material.”