CORVALLIS, Ore. – Dawn Wright, an Oregon State University professor of geosciences, has been named Oregon Professor of the Year by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
An OSU faculty member since 1995, Wright is a marine and coastal geography expert so passionate about her subject area that she’s known as “Deepsea Dawn.” Her popular web site with links to many interactive features can be found at http://dusk.geo.orst.edu. She has a joint appointment in OSU’s College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences.
Wright is an international expert in marine applications of geographic information science. She has taught more than 4,300 students during her 12-year tenure at OSU, in lecture and laboratory courses designed to “bring science to life.”
“Professor Wright exemplifies the very best in undergraduate teaching,” said OSU President Ed Ray. “That’s because the pioneering science she brings to each of her courses is made personal and accessible by the genuine caring she conveys to each of her students.”
Undergraduate students are often mesmerized by tales of her first-hand experiences from 25 scientific voyages across the planet, including descents to the deep-sea floor in manned submersibles and explorations of endangered tropical coral reefs. Discussions about topics closer to home include efforts to map Oregon’s near-shore geology and continental shelf, with applications many students and others can relate to – tsunami preparedness, fisheries management, coastal erosion and wave-generated electricity.
“When you go down in a submersible, it feels very much like being an astronaut,” Wright has said. “You’re going through this alien world, but it’s inner-space instead of outer space. It has that wild, exploratory feeling.”
Wright also often speaks to younger students, especially girls and underserved students aspiring to science careers. She has received numerous other honors for education and mentoring, such as the Education Award from the Oregon Assembly for Black Affairs in 2006. Wright is featured on a website about “Women Exploring the Ocean,” and was profiled in Sally Ride Science’s “What Do You Want to Be? Explore Earth Sciences.”