Brian Murphy of New Castle, Va., fisheries and wildlife science professor at Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources, has received a 2007 Edward S. Diggs Teaching Scholar Award. The award, established in 1992, honors outstanding teachers who make exceptional contributions that mutually benefit the classroom environment and the department's academic mission.
Murphy, who is also director of the Conservation Management Institute at the college, led an informal presentation and a follow-up discussion at the annual Diggs Teaching Scholar Roundtable, along with the university’s other two Diggs recipients. The roundtable allowed Diggs recipients to publicly discuss an aspect of their teaching that addresses pedagogical and curricular issues at Virginia Tech. Murphy discussed case-study teaching, an approach he uses to strengthen students’ critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities.
“I began to seek ways to integrate more active learning into my lecture courses by focusing on contentious management issues in our field that simultaneously engaged students in professional controversies and illustrated basic principles that students needed to master,” said Murphy in his nominee statement.
The winners each received a plaque and $500; their departments also received $500. In addition, recipients become members of the Diggs Teaching Scholar Association. The association participates in numerous activities aimed at enhancing the university’s teaching and learning environment.
Murphy is a graduate of the University of Detroit (B.S., ’75), Purdue University (M.S., ’77), and Virginia Tech (Ph.D., ’81). His academic interests include natural resource education, fisheries management, reservoir ecology, and international conservation.
The College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech consistently ranks among the top five programs of its kind in the nation. Faculty members stress both the technical and human elements of natural resources and instill in students a sense of stewardship and land-use ethics. Areas of studies include environmental analysis, natural resource recreation, urban forestry, wood science and forest products, geography, and international development.