Five Agriculture and Life Sciences faculty recognized for innovative teaching amid COVID-19

September 21st, 2020

AMES, Iowa - With a mere 10 days advance notice, Iowa State faculty members last spring had to quickly convert their in-person classes to online formats due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The extraordinary, creative efforts of a number of faculty to adapt to their new teaching environments were recognized recently with Spring 2020 Teaching Innovation Awards from the Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost. Five College of Agriculture and Life Sciences faculty members were among 36 faculty university-wide who received this award.

The five CALS faculty members are:

  • Nancy Boury, assistant professor, plant pathology and microbiology: Boury gathered COVID-19 data and incorporated it into lessons as a timely example of the spread and biology of a virus.
  • Kate Gilbert, associate teaching professor, food science and human nutrition: Gilbert, along with Ken Prusa, professor of food science and human nutrition, were able to maintain the team-based aspect of the food product development course they co-teach through implementing virtual meetings with students. They also had students develop infographics about the food products they developed to use in recorded presentations given to industry board members.
  • Cynthia Haynes, associate professor, horticulture: She encouraged students to get outside to enjoy and learn about the spring flowers and other plants emerging and blooming. Students were asked to use some of the flowers and plants they discovered outside to create flower arrangements after watching a demonstration video Haynes created.
  • Jelena Kraft, assistant teaching professor, genetics, development and cell biology: Students in Kraft’s multi-section advanced genetics lab were introduced to an online, research-based lab module as a result of classes being moved online last spring. Students used the module to study their gene of interest and its role in fatty acid accumulation in yeast.
  • Saxon Ryan, assistant teaching professor, agricultural and biosystems engineering: Ryan created first-person laboratory videos to explore the operation of equipment and fluid power circuit development, things his students would normally experience hands-on in his advanced automated manufacturing processes and fluid power systems technology courses.

The awards include a one-time $1,000 award. Funding for these awards was provided by an anonymous donor to support faculty excellence.


Nancy Boury, Plant Pathology and Microbiology, 515-294-6831,
Kate Gilbert, Food Science and Human Nutrition, 515-294-1673,
Cynthia Haynes, Horticulture, 515-294-4006,
Jelena Kraft, Genetics, Development and Cell Biology, 515-294-4080,
Saxon Ryan, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, 515-294-9955,
Whitney Baxter, Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications, 515-294-2314,