The Alumni Association is honoring 26 NC State professors with the 2014 Faculty Awards for their outstanding work in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the field. We talked (via email) with some of the recipients about their work and the keys to being a successful professor.
Today we’re visiting with Gail Jones, a professor of science education in the College of Education. Jones is one of four professors being recognized as a Distinguished Graduate Professor. She is also the only double winner this year — is is also one of four professors being recognized for Outstanding Extension and Outreach.
What prompted you to become a professor? My desire to be a teacher started in childhood where I loved going to school and learning. I have always had a strong desire to understand the world around me and in particular science. I remember many walks in the woods, studying wildflowers, and exploring the creeks and lakes near my home. I found the challenges of science to be fascinating and being a professor allowed me to combine my interest in science with my love of teaching. My teaching has allowed me to share science with elementary, middle and high school students as well as university students. I currently work with prospective teachers and this work allows me to help shape the next generation of educators.
What are the keys to being a successful professor? As a professor at a land-grant university we have the unique opportunity to teach, do research and extend our work into the community. Successful professors are passionate about their teaching, highly engaged in discovery, and skillful at sharing their work with others. One of the keys to building and maintaining a successful research program involves engaging other faculty in working together on related research topics. I have been very fortunate to work with outstanding students and colleagues. Though our diverse perspectives we are able to work together on interesting and challenging research.
What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a professor? As a professor I am highly motivated by the complex challenges that face faculty in teaching and mentoring students, investigating difficult questions in research, and finding innovative ways to share science with youth and adults outside of the university. Perhaps the two greatest joys for me are seeing my students learn and finding solutions to problems found in education.