Two of Murdoch’s accomplished and passionate educators have received academic excellence awards for sharing their talent, expertise and knowledge with Murdoch students and staff.
Dr Mike van Keulen of the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences and Early Career Educator Dr Melissa Merchant from the School of Arts were announced as recipients of the 2018 Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.
Each receives an award of $5000, which can be used for the further enhancement of their teaching. They are also eligible to nominate for a Learning Excellence Academy Fellowship at Murdoch.
Dr Mike van Keulen: passionate marine biology mentor
Dr Mike van Keulen was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Award for General Teaching Excellence in recognition of his two decades as a passionate Murdoch academic, who aims to provide his students with real-world learning opportunities.
Dr van Keulen’s Marine Science and Marine Biology teaching is greatly influenced and informed by his active research.
As Director of Murdoch’s Coral Bay Research Station, Dr van Keulen developed the Tropical Marine Biology unit to enable undergraduate students to learn contemporary research techniques in a coral reef environment.
He said his passion is to translate his research into a format that can inspire and be appreciated by his students.
“As a marine biologist I have witnessed and studied the decline of our natural environment, and sought ways to help the environment,” Dr van Keulen said.
“As an academic, I think I effectively share this passion and concern for the marine environment with my students, and thereby train and inspire them so they will make a difference.”
Dr van Keulen teaches four undergraduate units, three of which he coordinates and is also a dedicated supervisor of Honours and HDR students.
He plans to purchase new underwater photography equipment with his award.
In addition to his teaching activities, Dr van Keulen takes pride in mentoring new academic staff and colleagues, advising on teaching approaches and technology.
Dr Melissa Merchant: enthusiastic about early career education
Dr Melissa Merchant (pictured right) was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Early Career Teaching for her passion and dedication to tertiary education.
Dr Merchant is a highly respected Early Career Educator lecturer in Theatre and Drama. She received a Learning and Teaching Certificate in 2017, and holds a Fellowship with the Higher Education Academy, making Dr Merchant a sought-after tutor, lecturer, unit manager and unit coordinator.
Regardless of the discipline, Dr Merchant aims to make the learning experience fun for students, and believes that a university education should be accessible and equitable for all students.
“My focus has always been on trying to create learning experiences that are engaging and hopefully fun for everyone, whether they are on campus, online, or in another country,” Dr Merchant said.
In addition to teaching within Theatre and Drama, Dr Merchant also works with Global Media and Communication and in the Arts-wide research skills units.
Dr Merchant said it was an honour and privilege to have her work recognised with a Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Early Career Teaching and aspires to continue building her knowledge and skills, and improving upon her approach to learning and teaching .
“I was so thrilled to be recognised,” she said. “As an early career teacher, it is wonderful to know that I am on the right track in terms of my approach to learning and teaching.
“I have had the pleasure of learning from some of the most wonderful educators and I feel that this award is a reflection of their hard work just as much as it is of mine.”
Her dedication to furthering her skills led her to undertake the Learning and Teaching Certificate in 2017, and as a result she holds a Fellowship with the Higher Education Academy.