From CU-Boulder News Release May 11, 1995
Michael C. Grant Named Hazel Barnes Prize Winner
Michael C. Grant, professor of environmental, population and organismic biology, has been named by Chancellor Roderic Park as winner of the University of Colorado Boulder’s highest recognition for teaching and research.
The 1995 Hazel Barnes Prize will go to Grant, a 21-year member of the faculty, for outstanding teaching and scholarship. The prize carries a $20,000 cash award, the largest single faculty award funded by the university.
Grant has been recognized several times previously for his excellence and dedication as a teacher. He has received the Boulder Faculty Assembly Excellence in Teaching Award, the Mortar Board Society Teaching Excellence Award and the CU President’s Teaching Scholar Award.
In 1993 Grant received the Popular Science magazine award for Best of What’s New for his plant ecology studies.
In addition to his science teaching career, he has had a successful career as a research scientist and is internationally known for his expertise in plant ecology, evolutionary biology and acid rain.
Grant is a co-discoverer of a candidate for the world’s largest living organism, a grove of aspen clones in Utah, that led to a 1993 Discover magazine article titled “The Trembling Giant.”
He was one of the first scientists to identify potential problems with acid rain in the Rocky Mountains. In his current research, Grant is looking at the links between genetic and physiological traits, exploring a gap in existing knowledge of how differences in specific genes translate into varying levels of fitness in nature.
Grant has made a personal study of all aspects of undergraduate teaching and has brought to other faculty members findings from literature on the subject and from his personal observations.
He has written an essay for “On Teaching, Vol. III” published by the CU-Boulder Faculty Teaching Excellence Program titled “Joys of Teaching Science,” and has given presentations to colleagues on teaching.
In his writing and lectures in support of teaching, Grant has used the metaphor that “research and scholarly work are the branches of a tree of knowledge that allow the tree, or the professor, to grow and therefore to become a better teacher.”
As a young faculty member 20 years ago he established the biostatistics course that has become legendary among students for its rigorousness. The class is always fully enrolled when Grant teaches, and draws the students’ highest ratings.
He has been the “architect” of the general biology honors course, tailored for exceptional and highly motivated students and has served as a resource on teaching methods for general biology lectures for 350 students or more. Grant also is a mentor to graduate students, many of whom are on the tenure track in academic posts across the nation.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and master’s in zoology from Texas Tech University and a doctorate in botany from Duke University. He came to CU in 1974 to direct the Mountain Research Station, and joined the faculty as assistant professor in 1976. He was EPO biology department chairman from 1982 to 1986.
Grant is the fourth Hazel Barnes prize winner, joining Klaus Timmerhaus of chemical engineering, Reginald Saner of English and David Prescott of molecular, cellular and developmental biology.
The prize was established in 1991 by former Chancellor James Corbridge in honor of philosophy Professor Emerita Hazel Barnes and to recognize “the enriching interrelationship between teaching and research.” Barnes, a renowned teacher from 1943 until her retirement in 1986, also is internationally known for her interpretations of the works of French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre.