FSU Biology Professor Receives Prestigious Teaching Award


FROSTBURG, MD- Dr. David Puthoff, a professor in FSU’s Department of Biology, has received the Regents’ Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest honor presented by the University System of Maryland Board of Regents (BOR) to recognize exemplary faculty achievements. Puthoff will be recognized at the BOR meeting on April 19.

“I am honored to receive this award and to be ranked with the other outstanding awardees,” said Puthoff. “I have been privileged to guide some awesome students in discovering their academic greatness and to helping to show them that they should be confident in what they can do and how far they can go.”

Puthoff’s recognition marks the 10th time since 2007 that the Board of Regents has honored an FSU faculty member for the impact they have made on students during the previous three years.

“Dr. David Puthoff’s outstanding accomplishments have earned him this award,” said Dr. Traki L. Taylor, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “He has poured his work into our students and enhanced the teaching and learning experience for FSU students for more than 15 years. In reflection, students attest that Dr. Puthoff is an excellent teacher who is passionate and knowledgeable, promotes a comfortable learning environment and incorporates various learning styles while teaching.” Taylor continued, “Dr. Puthoff is very deserving of the Excellence in Teaching Award. Congratulations, Dr. Puthoff. Continue bringing learning to life!”

Puthoff has become a model at incorporating innovative practices in the teaching of biological sciences that have resulted in transformative experiences for students. His efforts focus on creating hands-on activities and projects that allow students to participate with the confidence they need to fully engage in the field. Throughout his courses, students can discover and characterize new viruses, identify and map genes involved in cancer, design and carry out their own experiments and co-author peer-reviewed publications.

“As long as I have known Dr. Puthoff, he has valued student-centered learning and focuses his efforts on generating activities and projects that show students what it’s actually like to do science,” said Dr. Rebekah Taylor, associate professor and chair of the Department of Biology. “More importantly, his methods allow students to have control over their learning, which gives them confidence and emphasizes that science is inclusive and available to everyone.”

Most recently, Puthoff’s research has moved to the genetic and chemical profiling of “Cannabis sativa.” “A great team of undergraduate students and I are cataloging microsatellite profiles of hemp varieties along with correlating those to CBD, THC, terpene and other cannabinoid levels,” said Puthoff. In addition to hemp, Puthoff’s research also focuses on plant interactions with their pathogens with a special focus on the interactions with insect pests.

“Dr. Puthoff’s encouragement to learn through doing, and to care deeply for what’s learned, is not limited to his mentorship in independent research projects,” said current student Quinton Browne. “In his genetics lecture, it is made clear that his love of the subject is something that we should aspire to. In the lab component, he’s made it possible for us to work on a project that is not purely replication, but which requires generating our own data and finding new information.” Browne continued, “He has been an inspiration to learn at every opportunity, which is what can be expected of the best professors, but also to love what I learn, which is where he proves himself excellent.”

Joshua Clem, FSU senior, echoes those sentiments. “As a first-year student, Dr. Puthoff was the first professor of my undergraduate career to demonstrate a true passion for biology, which motivated the students under him. It is patently clear that his love is not solely for biology, but also teaching.” Clem continued, “I attribute much of my passion for biology to Dr. Puthoff’s methods of teaching, which have never failed to maintain my interest.”

Transfer student Nicole Felton attributes her growth academically, professionally and personally to the experiences she was afforded under Puthoff’s mentorship. “After I was confident in knowing what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, Dr. Puthoff was quick to suggest that I do independent research with him to gain skills and knowledge in techniques that I would use in my future occupation.”

“I am incredibly pleased and excited to learn that Dr. David Puthoff has received this award,” said Dr. Boyce C. Williams, dean of FSU’s College of Education and Health and Natural Sciences. “Dr. Puthoff’s passion for teaching is very inspiring as evidenced by his student evaluations each semester. Students consistently state that his teaching and advising push them to be the best that they can be.” Williams went on to say, “It is evident that his teaching extends well beyond the classroom, impacting students’ lives and their learning. On behalf of the College of Education and Health and Natural Sciences, we extend our heartfelt congratulations.”

Puthoff has been a member of the FSU faculty for 16 years and was also one of the 2023 recipients of FSU’s Faculty Achievement Awards for teaching. He earned his bachelor’s in molecular genetics from The Ohio State University in 1994 and his doctorate in botany from the University of California, Riverside in 1999. Puthoff also completed post-doctoral work with Iowa State University and the USDA Agriculture Research Service before coming to Frostburg. He has taught classes at Towson University, the University of Maryland Global Campus and Georgetown University as an adjunct professor.

“Dr. Puthoff’s commitment to high-quality, high-impact teaching through incorporation of undergraduate research through the curriculum is worthy of this recognition,” said Al Delia, FSU’s acting president. “He is changing the way FSU’s students view and learn biology, and he is creating meaningful experiences that instill research knowledge and skills they will carry forward to be successful in their careers.”

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