Penn State plant scientist honored with USDA national teaching award

November 14, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Dennis Decoteau, professor of horticulture and plant ecosystem health in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, is among four public university faculty honored by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities with national teaching awards recognizing excellence in agricultural sciences teaching and student engagement.

Decoteau received the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Excellence in College and University Teaching Award for Food and Agricultural Sciences. The award was presented at the 132nd APLU annual meeting Nov. 10 in San Diego.

In recognition of his scholarship, exemplary pedagogy and dedication to instruction, Decoteau will receive a stipend of $5,000 to be used for improving teaching at Penn State.

"We applaud this year's winners of the Excellence in College and University Teaching Awards for Food and Agricultural Sciences," said Doug Steele, vice president of food, agriculture and natural resources at APLU. "The high bar they've set stands as a powerful example not only to their students, but to other faculty striving to better serve their students."

According to APLU, Decoteau has pursued sustained excellence in teaching by providing his students with creative content, innovative teaching approaches and integrative experiential learning. He has 32 years of experience educating and mentoring students and serves as the undergraduate program coordinator for the plant sciences major. He previously served as head of the Department of Horticulture — now the Department of Plant Science — at Penn State.

Formerly the head of the Department of Horticulture at Clemson University, Decoteau's teaching, research and outreach programs focus on environmental effects on plant growth and development, with an emphasis on air quality impacts on terrestrial ecosystems. He coordinates Penn State's Air Quality Learning and Demonstration Center, which is the only site in the nation dedicated to educating the public about air pollutant effects on plants.

Decoteau has received a number of teaching awards, including the Innovation in Teaching Award from APLU, the Outstanding Teacher Award from Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society for Agriculture, the Educator Award from the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture, the Education Award from the American Society for Horticultural Sciences, and the George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Penn State Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence.

He also is the recipient of numerous research and outreach awards, including the L.M. Ware Distinguished Research Award from the Southern Region of the American Society for Horticultural Sciences and the Innovation Award from the Environment and Natural Resources Institute at Penn State. He has written 68 peer-reviewed journal articles, 90 abstracts and 77 newspaper and industry columns, and secured more than $2 million in grants. He has directed five undergraduate honors theses, chaired 14 graduate student committees and served as a committee member for an additional 28 graduate students.

  • Dennis Decoteau

    Dennis Decoteau, professor of horticulture and plant ecosystem health. 

    IMAGE: Michael Houtz, College of Agricultural Sciences

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 15, 2019