Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray, associate professor of biology at Hope College, has been named the "Michigan College Science Teacher of the Year" by the Michigan Science Teachers Association (MSTA).
She will receive her award on Friday, Feb. 20,
during the MSTA's 45th annual Conference Banquet in Detroit.
The MSTA is a state unit of the National Science
Teachers Association (NSTA), which seeks to improve and make
relevant science instruction at all educational
Winnett-Murray was nominated for the award by Hope
colleague Dr. Christopher Barney, who is a professor of
biology and chair of the department. He complimented her
for her commitment to improving science education at not
only Hope, but elsewhere as well.
"Kathy is an outstanding teacher at the college
level. However, she is not content just to have a positive
impact on her students at Hope," he said. "Her interest in
science education has led her to reach out to other college
teachers, to elementary teachers and to parents in general."
Winnett-Murray, in turn, praised the college for
valuing her commitment to exploring ways to enhance science
education. At many institutions, she said, emphasis is
placed on the ability to obtain research grants and generate
scholarly publications, to the exclusion of other interests.
While she has stayed active in research, she's also had the
chance to do more.
"It's no coincidence I've been able to do that,
because the other areas--working with elementary teachers
and curriculum development--are valued here," she said. "I
know that there are other institutions where your colleagues
wouldn't value these things highly enough to nominate you in
the first place."
Winnett-Murray has been a member of the Hope
faculty since 1986. Her courses in recent years have
included "Vertebrate Zoology," "Animal Behavior,"
"Principles of Ecology," "Schoolyard Ecology" and
"Principles of Biology Laboratory." She was also co-
coordinator of the college's introductory biology
laboratories from 1995 to 1997.
She and her husband, Dr. K. Gregory Murray, who is
also an associate professor of biology at Hope, are
specialists in tropical ecology. They involve Hope students
in their research both on-campus and in Costa Rica, where
they have conducted research since the early 1980s, living
and working at the Monteverde Cloud Forest during the
Along with Gail Van Genderen, at the time a
teacher in West Ottawa, she established a local edition of
"SYEFEST: Schoolyard Ecology for Elementary School
Teachers," part of a nationwide project funded by the
National Science Foundation designed to help elementary
teachers view their school yards as teaching laboratories.
The program included summer institutes, co-led by Winnett-
Murray and Van Genderen, for local teachers in the summers
of 1994 and 1996.
Although the NSF program has since ended, Winnett-
Murray continues to work with many of the participants as
they continue to integrate its concepts into their lesson
planning. She and Van Genderen have also made presentations
about the project at professional meetings at the local,
state and national level.
Beyond her work with SYEFEST, Winnett-Murray has
made numerous science-related presentations, which she terms
"guest experiments," at area schools. Each year, she also
supervises a local high school student intern who works with
her on her research.
In addition to the MSTA and NSTA, she is a member
of several professional organizations, including the
American Ornithologists' Union, the Sigma Xi scientific
research society and the Organization for Tropical Studies.
She chaired the Education Section of the Ecological Society
of America from 1994 to 1996.
Winnett-Murray has been a contributing writer and
editor for "Dragonfly," a children's magazine devoted to
scientific inquiry, since its inception in 1996. She has
reviewed articles for scientific journals such as "Condor,"
"Auk," "Ecology," "Biotropica" and "Conservation Biology."
She holds a bachelor's degree from the University
of California at Irvine, a master's from California State
University at Northridge and a doctorate from the University
of Florida at Gainesville.