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Richard H. Emmons Award

For excellence in college astronomy teaching

Added to our list of honors in 2006, the Richard H. Emmons Award was inspired by a very generous gift from Jeanne and Allan Bishop, in honor of her father, Richard Emmons. Dr. Jeanne Bishop, a well-known astronomy educator in her own right, wished to honor her father, an astronomer with a lifelong dedication to astronomy education, by creating an award that recognizes and celebrates outstanding achievement in the teaching of college-level introductory astronomy for non-science majors.

The 2019 recipient was Prof. Nick Schneider, Professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, for his serious commitment to teaching and his innovative methods.

2019 Emmons Award given to Prof. Nick Schneider, University of Colorado, for his innovative teaching methods

Celebrating 30 years in the teaching profession, Nick Schneider brings a selfless dedication to undergraduate education also as an author, instructor and mentor.  He co-authored The Cosmic Perspective, one of the most highly-regarded “Astro-101” textbooks, now in its 9th edition. With over a million copies in print, his innovative chapters on planetary science have had a national impact on how the subject is taught. He is also co-author on 100 scientific publications, including refereed & review papers and book chapters.  Schneider enthusiastically shares his teaching methods with colleagues, junior faculty and graduate students. His teacher training workshops at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and mentoring at the University of Colorado have impacted other faculty to teach using his methods. One nominator praised how “His selfless dedication to undergraduate education has also helped me–and I suspect many other colleagues–to become a better teacher.”

Schneider goes beyond the lecture, incorporating some of the most effective advances in college science teaching. As an early adopter of new teaching methods, he helped his department become leaders in the use of “clickers” (response systems) to engage students and judge their understanding of ideas and “Learning Assistants” to facilitate discussions and encourage student engagement and responsibility for learning. In praise of Schneider’s methods, one nominator adds “What you would not see in class is that Nick also makes use of ‘Just in Time’ teaching.  He posts questions on the weekend, and students respond to these before class. Nick uses the responses to adjust what he will teach in class”. He continually strives for ways to include as many students as possible in active discussion and problem solving, even in large classes. His guidance on teaching and pedagogy validates his dedication to undergraduate astronomy education.

Please contact the Awards team if you have questions about the nomination process