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Dr. Teresa Balser, 2016 Finalist, earned A.B. degrees in earth sciences and biology from Dartmouth College in 1992, and a Ph.D. in soil microbiology from the University of California-Berkeley in 2000. She engaged in postdoctoral research on ecosystem ecology at Stanford University in 2000-2001, and has served as a visiting scholar for the Institute fur Umweltwissenschaften in Zurich, Switzerland and at the University of Kyoto’s (Kyoto, Japan) Center for Ecological Research. From 2001-2011, Balser served as a faculty member and administrator at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2011, she was named dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Florida. She is currently serving as Dean of Learning and Teaching within the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Curtin University in Australia.
Balser has been awarded for her research and teaching, including selection for a National Science Foundation Early Career Award and election as a Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America. She was chosen as a 2012 Vision and Change Leadership Fellow by the Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education, funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and Howard Hughes Medical Institute; named 2010 U.S. Professor of the Year (Doctoral and Research Universities) by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; and, in 2009, was honored with the National Excellence in College and University Teaching Award from the USDA and Association of Public and Land Grant Universities. In 2015, she was chosen as a Fulbright Distinguished Chair to India for work on life sciences and education.
Balser’s research interests are in the area of environmental science and education. She is an internationally known educator, advancing educational goals through the incorporation of active learning, innovative curriculum design and teaching-as-research initiatives. She is experienced in a wide range of teaching activities – small and large classes, public outreach, agronomic extension and professional development workshops. She is a recognized workshop leader and speaker on education and change.