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05-09-2015

Clarkson University Professor Alan Rossner Receives Distinguished Teaching Award

Alan Rossner,  associate professor and director of undergraduate programs in environmental health science and environmental science & policy in Clarkson University’s Institute for a Sustainable Environment, was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award during the University's 122nd commencement ceremony today.

Alan RossnerThe $1,500 prize is given "in recognition of the importance of superior teaching." Candidates are nominated for the award by Clarkson alumni and the final selection is made by a faculty committee.   

Over the past 20 years, Rossner has taught and conducted research at Clarkson in environmental health and environmental science. He teaches courses in the areas of environmental health and environmental science at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Specifically, he has taught 12 different types of courses over the last 10 years, including  courses such as a first-year seminar involving case studies in environmental sciences, introduction to industrial hygiene, an advanced topics in environmental and occupational health course, human exposure assessment, environmental science and a course in risk analysis.

Rossner has also mentored graduate students studying environmental science and engineering and more than 60 undergraduate research projects since his arrival at Clarkson.     

Rossner feels that his teaching philosophy has been shaped by both his 10 years of industrial experience and his academic experience as a student, researcher, program director and instructor.  
Arriving at Clarkson in 1995, he believed then and still does, that the students should have a solid foundation in the sciences, so they can then broaden their knowledge to prepare themselves to address the challenging environmental problems that impact our health and environment.

"The undergraduate education should be more than a collection of bits and pieces about subjects," says Rossner. "Teaching and learning require both students and teachers to organize their ideas and thoughts into a framework.  Effective teaching facilitates effective learning, which allows students to 'walk away' with a common understanding of science, the ability to learn new techniques and an appreciation of the impact science has on their lives. Students should have a deep appreciation of the broader impact of technology on society.  Teaching can be defined as the process that facilitates the learning and my goal has been to do that well."

In addition to his teaching and research, Rossner has been very active in his profession.  In 2013, he was named a fellow of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), where only three percent of the total members are granted fellow status.  In 2014, he was elected to the board of directors for American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), an organization that produces the most widely used occupational exposure guidelines across the world.   

Rossner's research projects provide valuable teaching opportunities. He directs his research into areas that minimize human exposure to contaminants, improve working conditions, improve living conditions and minimize risk of disease.

His current research projects encompass three areas: the development of air sampling methodologies; exposure assessment strategies for occupational and environmental air sampling; and indoor/outdoor air contaminant monitoring.

Rossner has published peer-reviewed journal articles, conference papers and presented conference presentations regional and nationally since his arrival at Clarkson. His research has been funded by such agencies as the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Defense (DoD).

Rossner received his Ph.D. in occupational health from McGill University, his master of science degree in environmental health from the University of Washington, and his bachelor of science in biology from Clarkson.

Prior to coming to Clarkson, he spent 10 years working in the industrial sector as an environmental, health and safety professional at the Boeing Company, consulting and government agencies.   

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University President Tony Collins (right) presents the Distinguished Teaching Award to Alan Rossner.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/teaching2015.jpg.]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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