Cynthia Denbow, of Blacksburg, Va., was awarded the 2009 Certificate of Teaching Excellence from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech.
Denbow was a research scientist at Virginia Tech when a tenured faculty member retired in 2002. She stepped up and began teaching classes as well, and her respect for her students and enthusiasm for teaching have become well known within the college. Denbow’s students continually praise her positive attitude, ability to simplify hard concepts, and determination to find new and better ways to teach.
Denbow, now an instructor in the Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, teaches three o four notoriously complex classes each year. “The subject of plant physiology has historically been a very difficult subject to relate to students in more applied disciplines,” said David M. Orcutt, professor emeritus of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science. “She does a very good job in relating the more basic principles of plant physiology to real-life applications for her students.”
In addition to teaching plant physiology courses, Denbow has also worked to improve them. “She has revamped and enhanced the plant physiology courses, making use of more problem-solving approaches, original literature, student engagement in hands-on, collaborative learning assignments, and the opportunity for students to present material to their peers,” said Elizabeth Grabau, head of the Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science.
Denbow is also an advisor for Alpha Zeta — the professional, service, and honorary fraternity for students of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Natural Resources — where she provides suggestions, gives advice, and does whatever she can to help the group achieve its goals.
With her respect for her students and her dynamic teaching style, Denbow is an inspiring role model for a new generation of educators.
Denbow received her bachelor’s degree in zoology and poultry science and her master’s degree in poultry science from North Carolina State University and her Ph.D. in plant pathology, physiology, and weed science from Virginia Tech.