Mortensen named recipient of 2018 Graduate Faculty Teaching Award

April 02, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — David Mortensen, professor of weed and applied plant ecology in College of Agricultural Sciences, has received the 2018 Graduate Faculty Teaching Award.

The award, established in 1992 by The Graduate School, is presented to faculty members in recognition of outstanding teaching performance and advising of graduate students.

“Dr. Mortensen is a natural-born mentor and teacher who cares deeply about each of his students and shows incredible devotion to his advisees,” a graduate student said. “He works hard to keep his teaching fresh and goes above and beyond with his advisees to prepare us for careers and lives.”

His graduate students said his mentorship has prepared them for complex challenges and inspiring successes. His success is clearly illustrated by the impressive list of research awards his advisees have received, they said, as well as his track record of securing leading research positions in academia, public agencies and the nonprofit sector. His advisees have gone on to attain faculty positions at Cornell, Colorado State and Oregon State, to name a few. Others have secured research positions at the USDA and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture.

Graduate students said Mortensen fosters independence in his advisees by valuing their ideas and shaping, rather than directing, their research programs. This practice is rooted in his deeply held belief that independent, creative inquiry is at the heart of great science.

Mortenson’s mentorship extends well beyond training future researchers. He engages with his advisees for whatever career path they choose, a student said.

These qualities make Mortensen an outstanding teacher,” a graduate student said. “Mortensen has worked for decades to develop teaching approaches that are challenging and relevant while engaging his students intellectually, personally and ethically.”

Mortensen, who has a full lab with a postdoctoral scientist and four graduate students, says he is committed to mentoring the next generation of researchers and applied plant and agricultural ecologists.

“I deeply value my role as mentor,” Mortensen said. “My students and colleagues know me as a person who would much rather work across the table with someone than have important conversations be relegated to email or large group meetings.”

Last Updated April 02, 2018