Murdaugh Honored with Cornell Distinguished Teaching Award

July 02, 2021

By Elsa Wenzel

The Cornell Distinguished Teaching Award, named for George D. Cornell ‘35, honors Rollins faculty who have distinguished themselves through outstanding teaching.

Anne Murdaugh
Photo by Scott Cook.

Anne Murdaugh, associate professor of physics and current department chair, is the recipient of the 2021-2022 Cornell Distinguished Teaching Award.

Since joining Rollins in 2011, Murdaugh has focused on making the classroom experience informative, enjoyable, and relevant for all of her students. She brings a memorable, accessible teaching style to all levels in the physics department, including Rollins Foundation in the Liberal Arts (rFLA) and Rollins College Conference (RCC) courses.

"This professor's energy is infectious, and her obvious joy in teaching seems to evoke an equal joy in learning from her students,” says Susan Singer, provost and vice president of academic affairs. “Students repeatedly praise her availability, her willingness to listen, her positive attitude, and her superb organization.”

One student described Murdaugh’s “openness, her supportiveness, and the challenge that she brought both in the classroom and in the office hours ... she won’t let you get away with not understanding the material.”

Murdaugh is known for her immersive teaching skills, from getting up on a table to acting out the movements of electrons and protons to making her students’ hair stand on end via a Van de Graaff generator.

Her latest research with undergraduates explores how sticky surfaces can be manipulated, particularly if one of those surfaces is biological. That includes investigating how soil particles stick to roots and how changes in the environment, like acid rainfall, affect that stickiness.

“I am very honored to receive this prestigious award,” says Murdaugh. “I love teaching and making complex physics ideas feel accessible to anyone. I'm humbled to know my inane imitations of electrons and anthropomorphizing of equations are having a positive impact on our students and their appreciation of science.”

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