Dr. Becky Doyle-Morin, professor of biology at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, is being honored with the 2021 Nimocks Family Faculty Appreciation Award. Created by former provost and vice chancellor of Academic Affairs Dr. Mittie Nimocks Den Herder, the award honors and recognizes outstanding faculty at UW-Platteville who teach effectively, teach the value of diversity, teach the ability to argue sensitive issues with competence and civility, create opportunities for students to engage in high-impact practices, and teach the importance of a liberal arts education.
Doyle-Morin earned her undergraduate degree in biology at Lawrence University and her Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University. She began her career at UW-Platteville in 2011 and teaches BioQuest; The Diversity of Life; Fundamentals of Biological Investigation; Invertebrate Zoology; Freshwater Biology; Wetland Ecology, Restoration, and Management; The Ecology of Florida (an off-campus, research-based course); and an Undergraduate Research Workshop in Biology.
“Dr. Becky Doyle-Morin is an amazing individual who focuses her time and energy on creating opportunities for our students to be successful at UW-Platteville and beyond,” said Dr. Amanda Trewin, department chair and professor of biology. “She is a master at creating meaningful high-impact practices for our biology students and regularly engages undergraduates in independent research projects.”
Doyle-Morin mentors students in various research projects both in and out of the traditional classroom. With an expertise in freshwater invertebrate and ecosystem ecology, she guides a large number of students in the study of natural controls for nuisance algal growth, freshwater mussel decline, and the ecology of the microscopic animals that eat algae. She also leads research on native and introduced pollinator declines, entomophagy – or, insect consumption, microplastic pollution, and styrofoam-consuming mealworms, among other topics.
"There are few things I enjoy more than seeing my students thoroughly enjoying themselves while sharing their passion for science and making a huge lasting impact on the next generation while doing so." –Dr. Becky Doyle-Morin
Doyle-Morin also advises the UW-Platteville Bee Squad – the student group that constructed the honeybee hive and pollinator “P” – and helped establish the Animal House, an exotic animal husbandry and outreach program on campus.
“I really appreciate the value of incorporating scientific communication into the work these two groups and my classes do,” said Doyle-Morin. “One event I particularly enjoy coordinating has brought almost 150 students, faculty and staff from across campus together to communicate about science with hundreds of 4K through eighth grade students and their families in the Belmont Community School District. We have worked together over three events to create 70-plus hands-on STEAM activities, and were even able to host a grade school scientific poster symposium after engaging the K-4 classes in their own large-scale research project. There are few things I enjoy more than seeing my students thoroughly enjoying themselves while sharing their passion for science and making a huge lasting impact on the next generation while doing so.”
Doyle-Morin credits her success to similar high-impact practices she experienced during her education and hopes the opportunities she provides will have the same impact on her students.
“I believe these high-impact practices are not only important, but essential, to both fully engaging and preparing our biology students for their future careers and roles as citizen scientists,” said Doyle-Morin. “These experiences play an integral role in the development of well-rounded students who will become effective and engaged both in and outside of their careers. These types of activities had life-changing impacts on me as an undergraduate student, and I am so grateful for the faculty and other professionals that not only made these opportunities available to me, but also provided me the encouragement and support I needed as a first-generation student to undertake them successfully. I guess this is my way of ‘paying it forward.’ And, I know for many students, these experiences have helped them to not only fully reinforce what they have learned in the classroom, but to also build confidence, to find their ‘niche’, and to succeed in future internships and careers. What better way to prepare our students, and to help them figure out their future paths, than to give them real-world experience in the activities they are pursuing?”
Doyle-Morin said one of the things she enjoys most about teaching is recognizing that in addition to the impact her work has on students, the relationships she builds have lifelong impacts on her as well.
“I love that feeling of being so proud of someone you could burst. My amazing students give me that feeling very regularly, and I am so grateful for that,” said Doyle-Morin. “I really enjoy seeing the students meeting challenges as a team, learning with and from one another – and certainly teaching me a thing or two – all while forming wonderful, lifelong friendships in the process. Creating these opportunities for my students has not only provided the most intellectually stimulating and exciting moments of my professional career, but has given me the invaluable opportunity to build the personal, lasting relationships with my students that I believe we both benefit from long after their years at UW-Platteville are complete. The effort I have put into these activities has been extensive, but the return on my investment has been more than I could have even imagined.”
Doyle-Morin will be recognized at the UW-Platteville faculty and staff convocation on Thursday, Aug. 26.