On March 20, Provost Jack Connell bestowed Houghton College’s most prized faculty award—Excellence in Teaching—on Aaron Sullivan, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the biology department, during a special chapel service. The Faculty Development Committee (FDC) chooses the recipient from a pool of highly regarded educators based on nominations from faculty, staff and students.
Professor Sullivan has taught at Houghton since 2004. His research in behavioral ecology focuses on two primary areas: predator-prey interactions, and chemical communication. Often he works with students to examine how amphibian prey evaluate predation risk using chemical stimuli.
“Dr. Sullivan encourages student involvement in the same way he encourages student collaboration,” said one student who nominated him for the prestigious award. “He fosters a welcoming environment in the classroom in which any idea is considered and addressed….Additionally students have the opportunity to create research projects and present their findings.”
Sullivan earned a B.S. from Mount Vernon Nazarene College, a M.S. from Southwest Missouri State University, and a Ph.D. from Binghamton University. He regularly writes and publishes his findings in scholarly journals.
His Houghton lab has also published studies evaluating the defensive behaviors exhibited by aquatic invertebrates. He recently participated in field work related to the Pacific Crest Trail Megatransect with a collaborator at William Jessup University. The concept driving this project is the use of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail as a ‘barometer’ of biodiversity where a survey is established with the objective to document the occurrence and distributions of plants, animals, and their habitats across the remote and mountainous regions of the Pacific States from Mexico to Canada.
The Houghton College Excellence in Teaching Award honors a faculty member who meets a variety of criteria set by the FDC, including: stellar classroom/lab/studio instruction and thorough knowledge of the subject matter; active encouragement of students to think creatively and critically through mentoring, service learning and other collaborative activities; and the development and improvement of teaching.
Houghton College is a liberal arts institution that challenges students to academic excellence – in the context of a relevant Christian community – and empowers them to enrich the world. The college of 1,000 students is located in Western New York, just 65 miles from Rochester and Buffalo.