Meena Balgopal named University Distinguished Teaching Scholar

Meena Balgopal portrait

Meena Balgopal is an accomplished professor in the Department of Biology who is passionate about teaching. Balgopal was named a Colorado State University Distinguished Teaching Scholar in 2022, an award given to faculty members who are the most outstanding teachers and educators in their disciplines.  

Balgopal –  the first University Distinguished Teaching Scholar who identifies as a person of color – serves as a role model to her students through her teaching, scholarship on STEM learning for all, and work implementing evidence-based change in science communication and instruction. 

“Meena is a tremendous asset,” said Debbie Garrity, chair of the Department of Biology. “She helps all of us raise the bar on course design and shares many ideas for enhancing student engagement.” 

Balgopal helped draft the current CSU guidelines for evaluating effective teaching, has received more than $7 million in funding from agencies ranging from the USDA to NASA; some of them are grants that she wrote while undergoing chemotherapy to treat breast cancer. 

Her work has reached diverse and international populations, from domestic K-12 classrooms to Buddhist monastics in Tibet. 

Balgopal’s research group is interested in how people make meaning of natural science concepts. She explores meaning making (interpretation) and learning (storing and recalling information) by studying how people speak, read, and write about science. The group conducts its work in diverse field sites: undergraduate science and engineering classrooms, K-12 classrooms, and informal science education experiences such as field trips, museums, and school gardens. 

The findings inform students so they can become more aware of their own conceptual challenges and be independent learners, more inclusive and productive teammates during group work, and better communicators of science. 

The research also informs science instructors so they can support student learning through writing activities, science communication skills, and critical thinking during problem-based learning activities. 

“I am thrilled to join the community of other distinguished teaching scholars at CSU and to find ways that we can collectively study, support, and model effective pedagogies,” said Balgopal. 

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