Venkateshwaran selected for Underkofler Award

July 2, 2018
Muthu Venkateshwaran

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – Dr. Muthu Venkateshwaran, assistant professor of crop physiology and molecular biology in the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s School of Agriculture, was named one of three recipients across the UW System of the 2018 Alliant Energy Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Award. The $3,000 award, funded by an endowment from Alliant Energy, is intended to recognize and reward extraordinary teachers at UW System institutions within Alliant Energy’s service area.

Venkateshwaran joined UW-Platteville in 2013 and teaches a variety of soil and crop science courses, ranging from introductory to advanced. He strives to inspire an enthusiasm for learning in his students through providing a hands-on, inquiry based, active learning experience.

“I feel extremely happy, humbled and honored to receive this prestigious award for teaching excellence,” said Venkateshwaran. “All these years I have learned so much from the very talented teaching community in UW-Platteville, and I have tried many of those successful teaching strategies in my classes. One cannot expect a better student body than what we have at UW-Platteville. They are very passionate about learning. It is a very rewarding experience to teach students who are very knowledgeable, industrious, respectful and responsible. They have always welcomed new ideas, new teaching tools and methods. The academic atmosphere at UW-Platteville is very conducive for both teaching and learning excellence and I am very thankful to the immense support from the university, College of BILSA and School of Agriculture.”

Venkateshwaran has mentored more than 40 undergraduate students on his ongoing research projects on understanding the molecular mechanisms of plant-microbe symbioses, plant defense signaling, integrated disease management and sustainable agricultural practices. Many of his students have presented their research findings in various conferences and symposia at the university, regional and national level.

“Dr. Venkateshwaran has great passion and desire for students to engage in undergraduate research,” said Dr. Rami Reddy, director of the School of Agriculture. “He has incorporated his ongoing research into undergraduate instruction and training. Several undergraduate students served as research assistants on many of these projects. This integrated approach – his ambition to discover and find novel approaches to teaching and research – will lead to intellectual growth and become an inspiration to many undergraduate students.”

Venkateshwaran’s success in the classroom is a result of his commitment to creating distinctive learning environments and adopting best practices in the courses he teaches. This includes incorporation of simulations and games, experiential learning activities, field trips, flipped classrooms and more.

“Dr. Venkateshwaran is a truly outstanding faculty member, and we are fortunate to have someone of his caliber and character on our staff,” said Dr. Michael Compton, professor of environmental horticulture at UW-Platteville. “He is very dedicated and passionate about student learning. He goes beyond expectations to provide great learning opportunities for our students.”

Venkateshwaran is also the co-advisor of the Agronomy-Soil and Water Conservation Club and CERES Women’s Fraternity, leading students in activities and service-learning projects.

“Dr. Venkateshwaran has the potential to provide classes that can give students knowledge and tools to compete in today’s job market as well as post-baccalaureate education,” said Arlyn Ackerman, a May 2017 UW-Platteville graduate and current graduate research assistant in the Department of Genetics and Biochemistry at Clemson University. “Having taken nearly all his numerous classes, I know from first-hand experience that Dr. Venkateshwaran’s number one concern as a teacher is student learning.”

Venkateshwaran earned his bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Tamil Nadu Agriculture University in India and his master’s degree in agriculture with an emphasis in plant pathology from ANGR Agricultural University in India. He earned his doctoral degree in plant pathology from UW-Madison. 

Venkateshwaran will be recognized at UW-Platteville’s 2018 convocation on Tuesday, Aug. 28.

Written by: Alison Parkins, associate director of Public Relations, Communications, 608-342-1524, parkinsal@uwplatt.edu

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