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April 11, 2013

Murphy Award winner: Marcy Towns

Marcy Towns

Marcy Towns, professor of chemistry, is a recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Awards in Memory of Charles B. Murphy. (Photo provided)
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Six exceptional teachers have been selected as recipients of the 2013 Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Awards in Memory of Charles B. Murphy. This week, Purdue Today will feature a profile on each of the recipients. Today, we focus on Marcy Towns, professor of chemistry.

Making chemistry relevant to the lives of each of her students is one of Marcy Towns' main goals as a professor. Drawing upon her years of experience in the classroom, Towns creates lesson plans to help her students learn the chemistry which they can apply both to their majors and to experiences outside of the workplace.

"It doesn't matter what major they have or what profession they pursue, they will need to be scientifically literate citizens in our society," Towns says. "We develop national and international leaders at Purdue and we want these future leaders to have a strong scientific foundation to make evidence-based, rational decisions."

Towns has been instrumental in reworking foundational chemistry courses to improve student achievement and helping her department and the University move toward a more student-centered learning model. Her work in these areas included serving as a faculty fellow for the first Instruction Matters Purdue Academic Course Transformation (IMPACT) cohort in 2011, where she helped to redesign CHEM 115, General Chemistry.

In efforts to strengthen her engagement outside of the classroom, Towns has partnered with the Black Cultural Center to offer office hours and worked with the College of Science's "Feasting with Faculty" program to mentor students in various campus dining courts.

"I love getting to know the students," Towns says. "It's inspiring to learn about what they want to do and to help them get there."

Student evaluators say they appreciate the passion Towns shows for teaching and her willingness to help them outside of class time.

"Dr. Towns not only was prepared for lecture every time, but she was full of energy and encouraged the learning environment," one student writes.

"I thought that Dr. Towns was an excellent instructor," another student writes. "I really like how she was always available to answer questions; whenever I had questions the day of an exam, she would email me the answers in a timely manner."

Writer: Chris Adam, cadam@purdue.edu, 49-42082