Charlton receives President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Integration

April 09, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Jane Charlton, professor of astronomy and astrophysics in the Eberly College of Science, has been awarded the 2015 President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Integration.

The award is given to a full-time faculty member who has exhibited extraordinary achievement in the integration of teaching, research or creative accomplishment and service.

Charlton was honored for her commitment to research, educating future researchers and growing web-based learning at Penn State.

Since joining the University in 1992, Charlton has introduced innovative programs to the teaching, research and service missions, and her work has had significant national and international impact. Her outstanding performance was recognized in 1997 with the Faculty Associates Award for Teaching and Service and again in 2008 when she received Eberly College of Science’s C.S. Noll Teaching Award.

For the past 25 years, Charlton has been an internationally recognized leader in the field of quasar absorption lines. Her investigations revealed how interstellar and intergalactic gas have evolved during the past several billion years.

Colleagues said Charlton gets her students equally excited about research. More than a dozen of her students have had significant research publications before graduation and many more have had multiple co-authored papers with her.

“Clearly, she’s brought together ‘teaching and research’ and made both come alive for her students,” said one colleague.

She’s elevating future scientists, too.

Charlton created AstroFest, a four-day event that bolsters science for all ages of students. Each year, about 2,000 attendees visit Davey Lab to experience lectures, science demonstrations, rooftop telescopes and planetarium visits.

Outside if the laboratory and classroom, Charlton mentors high school students in summer internship programs that introduce them to their first scientific research. For several honors students, her guidance extends through undergraduate and post-graduate studies.

“Charlton’s depth and breadth of the learning continuum is exceptional and no doubt will result in new and innovative means of captivating the new generation of students accustomed to a more creative format for learning,” said a nominator.

Charlton overhauled web-based science classes at the University. First offered in spring 2014, the class increases student interactions to a level comparable to a video game. The new approach was praised and well received by students. More than 850 are currently enrolled in the course, and it also is being offered for the first time through the World Campus.

Last Updated April 09, 2015