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Honors and Awards

SPHHS Honors Outstanding Teaching Award Recipients, Scholarship Award Winners

The School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) recently announced the recipients of this year’s Outstanding Teaching and Scholarship awards.


Gregory Grinnell
Gregory Grinnell

Gregory Grinnell, lecturer in kinesiology, is the winner of SPHHS’s 2022-2023 College Outstanding Teacher Award (COTA), co-administered by the UMass Amherst Center for Teaching and Learning and given annually to one of the college’s faculty members who demonstrates excellence and creativity in teaching, a positive impact on their students and a mastery of their subject.

During the 2022-2023 academic year, Grinnell taught KIN 110: Human Performance and Nutrition, a degree required course that also fulfills a general education requirement for students across all fields of study.

In his nominating materials, Grinnell was described as “being welcoming, flexible, and caring,” and that students appreciated his advocating for them in times of need. The comment that struck the selection committee most noted that his class “made me love my major. It made me proud to be an SPHHS student. It gave me the confidence to pursue this career path and the knowledge to do so as well.”

Grinnell notes that his teaching philosophy is grounded in the belief that education is a collaborative effort that requires communication, care, trust, and conversation between the teacher and the students.

“I strive to create a safe and inclusive learning environment where every student feels valued as a person, not just as a student,” says Grinnell. “I make an effort to establish personal connections with my students and create opportunities for them to engage in meaningful conversations about the subject matter, their interests, and their goals.”

The SPHHS also announced the winners of its UWW Outstanding Teaching and Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Awards, which are given annually by the school to honor online instruction and graduate teaching, respectively.

Susan Brown, lecturer in the Master’s in Public Health Practice program, received the school’s UWW Outstanding Teaching Award. Her nominators described her as “thorough, prompt, easy to understand and kind.” Her class was described as accessible, with a wide range of helpful materials, and her students appreciated her inclusivity and the real-world examples she provided to enlighten and clarify the content.

Melanna Cox, a doctoral student in the Department of Kinesiology, received the school’s Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award. Over the past year, Cox served as an instructor for KIN 440: Physical Activity and Disease and KIN 110 Honors: Human Performance and Nutrition, and the selection committee noted that the student nominations made it clear that Cox’s skill in teaching is consistently noticed and appreciated. Students praised her “clarity, ability to re-explain concepts, willingness to work with disability services, and patience in working with students until they understood important concepts.”

They described Cox’s classes as engaging and entertaining, and they praised her ability to make them feel seen and heard.

“This award is special because – like many academics – I have often questioned my teaching abilities and my belonging in the classroom as an instructor,” says Cox. “The fact that students took the time to recognize me in this way saved me from that self-doubting part of myself. I am forever grateful for that.”

The Outstanding Teaching Awards were announced at the school’s Senior Recognition Ceremony on May 27.

SPHHS also honored a group of over 50 undergraduate and graduate students during its annual Awards Celebration, held on May 6 in the Student Union Ballroom. Award recipients were recognized for outstanding achievements in the classroom, in research and through service to the community.

As part of the celebration, the Delta Omega Honor Society Rho Chapter at UMass Amherst inducted its 2023 cohort of new members into its ranks. The honorary society for the study of public health, Delta Omega encourages excellence in student scholarship and research, recognizes academic achievement, and provides members with leadership development, publication, and networking opportunities. Members are nominated and inducted in faculty, alumni, graduate student and undergraduate student categories.

Additionally, the 2023 SPHHS Health Innovators Challenge and SPHHS Research Day prize winners were recognized during the event, alongside American Kinesiology Association award recipients and a UMass Amherst Rising Researcher.

A full list of recipients can be found on the SPHHS website.