SPHHS Names 2021 Outstanding Teacher Award Winners

Left to right: Krishna Poudel, Carol Bigelow and Brittany Ranchoff
Left to right: Krishna Poudel, Carol Bigelow and Brittany Ranchoff

The School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) has announced Krishna Poudel, associate professor of health promotion and policy, as the recipient of its 2020-21 College Outstanding Teacher Award. The award is given annually to one SPHHS faculty member who demonstrates excellence and creativity in teaching, a positive impact on their students and a mastery of their subject. The College Outstanding Teacher Award program is co-administered by the UMass Amherst Center for Teaching and Learning.

In addition, the SPHHS named Carol Bigelow, research associate professor of biostatistics and epidemiology, as the winner of its UWW Outstanding Teacher Award and health promotion and policy doctoral candidate Brittany Ranchoff as the winner of its Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Award. The SPHHS presents these awards to recognize excellence in online teaching and in graduate student teaching, respectively.

The selection committee noted Poudel's support from current and former undergraduate and graduate students as well as colleagues. They describe him as a caring and motivating mentor, one who “not only values my opinion, but also makes a point to praise the process from which I have arrived at that conclusion.” In one nomination letter, a student wrote that “Dr. Poudel did not merely transition calmly to online learning, he made use of its benefits, including speakers from around the globe, transitioning from email exchanges to Zoom meetings to improve engagement. He approaches teaching as a collaborative and creative process, and goes above and beyond as both a classroom teacher and research mentor. His students feel treated as a colleague in Dr. Poudel’s quest for knowledge, and they appreciate his generosity and his enthusiasm for his field.”

“I am truly honored to receive this award,” says Poudel. “I am thankful for all the students, as well as my colleagues, who supported my nomination. Such support from students and colleagues is already an enormous reward for any professor.”

During the 2020-21 academic year, Poudel taught “Introduction to Global Health” as well as graduate courses on “Program Evaluation and Global Health in a Developing World.”

Bigelow served as an instructor in the online MPH in public health practice program where she taught “BIOSTATS 540 (Introductory Biostatistics),” “BIOSTATS 640 (Intermediate Biostatistics),” and “BIOSTATS 690C (Data Management and Applied Data Analysis with Stata and R).” She was praised for her enthusiasm and excellence at broadening her methods in order to be a more inclusive instructor, and for recognizing that statistics can be a daunting course for many students.

For the past two years, Ranchoff has served as a teaching assistant for “Public Health 129: Health Care for All” under the supervision of health promotion and policy faculty members Michael Begay, Airín Martínez, and the course’s current instructor, John Zeber. Her teaching mentors describe her as invaluable, with one nominator writing, “I honestly believe that this very large remote course could not have been executed with a high level of engagement without her leadership and assistance—both technological and didactic.”