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Walsh rewarded for innovation in teaching and science

by Jonathan Riggs
USC Provost Elizabeth Garrett gives the Associates Awards for Excellence in Teaching to USC Associate Professor John Walsh. (USC Photo/Steve Cohn)
USC Provost Elizabeth Garrett gives the Associates Awards for Excellence in Teaching to USC Associate Professor John Walsh. (USC Photo/Steve Cohn)

Long recognized as an enormously effective and creative leader both in the classroom and in the lab, John Walsh, an associate professor of gerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology who specializes in neuroscience, saw his exceptional work recognized with two major awards.

Earlier this year, he won one of only two Associates Awards for Excellence in Teaching given out annually at USC. In her remarks on his selection, Elizabeth Garrett, USC provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, highlighted the flair for innovation that helped make Walsh a standout throughout his 20-plus years as a Trojan.

“He capitalized on the multimedia revolution, realizing that it offered an opportunity to further his connection to students and to develop cutting-edge instruction tools and methods,” Garrett said. “Professor Walsh’s students esteem him for his enthusiasm, kindness, approachability and easygoing style, and his stellar reputation attracts students not only to his classes but also to his movement disorders laboratory.”

Receiving this high-profile award helped pave the way for Walsh to earn another when he received a nearly $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to pioneer the use of multimedia, social media and gaming to teach neuroscience via mobile devices.

“ ‘Digital aging’ is an important focus for the USC Davis School, but we have to remember that it’s not just digital aging — it’s digital everything. Current and future generations will expect easy and reliable access to digital information and resources on retirement, housing, disease and cultural support,” Walsh said. “I have always been dedicated to using the latest technology and innovative approaches to further both my science and my students’ understanding, and I’m proud to help the Davis School advance its mission of being the world’s best source of information on aging — digital and otherwise.”

Pinchas Cohen, dean of USC Davis, said: “John Walsh manages to be that extremely rare combination: a world-class scientist as well as a world-class teacher. We are so proud to see his creativity and vision recognized with these awards. His passion for science and students inspires us all. It is amazing to realize the impact he has had on the field, both through his own work and that of the many gifted alums who spent time in his lab or his classes.”

As grateful as he is for the recognition as both a scientist and a teacher, Walsh said that success in one area helps inspire him in the other.

“Research in education is a means for keeping teaching fresh and exciting, and it means so much to me to know that my methods are not only effective but also enjoyable for students,” he said. “Teaching, like science, is an ever-changing art form, and I feel rewarded every day when I see the impact I can have on my students — and that they can have on me.”

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