Larson selected for Underkofler award

July 6, 2017
Evan Larson

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – Dr. Evan Larson, associate professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, was named one of three recipients across the UW System of the 2017 Alliant Energy Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Award. He will be recognized at UW-Platteville’s 2017 convocation on Thursday, Aug. 31 and at an awards ceremony at UW-Madison on Friday, Oct. 27.

The awards are intended to recognize and reward extraordinary teachers at UW System institutions within Alliant Energy’s service area and include a $2,500 stipend funded by an endowment from Alliant Energy. UW-Platteville’s Improvement of Learning Committee managed the selection process; the Teaching and Technology Center provided assistance as needed.

“It’s an amazingly humbling award to even be considered, given the immense skill, energy and dedication that is put toward teaching by so many of the people around me,” said Larson.

“Dr. Larson is well deserving of this special award,” said Dr. Melissa Gormley, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Education at UW-Platteville. “He is an amazing asset to the College of LAE and the university. He possesses an extraordinary ability to cross disciplinary boundaries to create a dynamic, intellectual community with our students.”

Dr. Chris Underwood, assistant professor of geography and research associate in the Tree-Ring, Earth, and Environmental Sciences Laboratory at UW-Platteville, nominated Larson for the award.

“I have known Evan for more than a decade, and our time together has afforded me multiple examples of Evan’s exceptional commitment to teaching,” said Underwood. “He is well received, respected and liked by his students; yet, if you asked me to summarize in one sentence why I think he is worthy of this award, I would say it is because Evan is a mentor and teacher to me, as well. I consistently gain new content, technique and pedagogical knowledge from him. Evan encourages and pushes me to be the best professor I can be. In my opinion, this is the epitome of an effective teacher – one who not only reaches his target audience, but also capably conveys knowledge to a broad spectrum of learners, including his colleagues.”

Larson began teaching at UW-Platteville in fall 2009. He teaches a large general education load with the natural science course Planet Earth, introductory and advanced geography courses, and mentors numerous student researchers as part of their geography majors.

The award recognizes the dedication of faculty and instructional staff as teachers as well as their ability to communicate their subject matter effectively and inspire an enthusiasm for learning in their students.

“The world within and around higher education is changing rapidly and dramatically,” wrote Larson in his application. “Trends today clearly illustrate the need to pursue creative solutions to unshackle our teaching from methods rooted in longstanding traditions that serve some of our students, but not all of them. To realize the vast potential of underserved students we must diversify our approach to education. I recognize that to remain relevant, my teaching must continuously evolve to benefit from advances in the understanding of how and why people learn. The accomplishments of my students give me a powerful sense of optimism. Out of this environment, I hope to continue developing an approach to teaching that is as dynamic as our culture, economy, and environment and that helps inspire my students to go forth and create a better world.”

In addition to teaching, Larson serves as a research associate with the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey for the UW-Extension. In 2011-12, he served as a visiting teacher and researcher in the Department of Science, Engineering and Mathematics at Mid Sweden University in Sundsvall, Sweden. 

Since starting at UW-Platteville in fall 2009, Larson has received more than $900,000 in grants and contracts to conduct research primarily using tree rings to reconstruct environmental and human history over recent centuries. His projects have included support for undergraduate researchers to help infuse authentic research experiences into the educational experiences of his students.

Written by: Laurie A. Hamer, Communications Specialist, College of Liberal Arts and Education, 608-342-6191, hamerl@uwplatt.edu

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