Students' Award for Teaching Excellence

The Students’ Award for Teaching Excellence recognizes a faculty member who commits time outside of the classroom to prevent students from falling through the cracks, demonstrates an enthusiasm for the subject matter, and instills enthusiasm and passion in students.

Gunjan Gakhar

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Gunjan Gakhar

The Students’ Award for Teaching Excellence recognizes a faculty member who commits time outside of the classroom to prevent students from falling through the cracks, demonstrates an enthusiasm for the subject matter, and instills enthusiasm and passion in students.

Student nominators couldn’t praise Gunjan Gakhar highly enough. On her teaching excellence: “Dr. Gunjan Gakhar exhibited exceptional aptitude for the material and mastery of concepts pertaining to the field of microbiology.” On her concern for students: “She cares about her students’ education and always checks in on them. I appreciated the fairness with which she treated all students, and the fact that she ensured that everyone was improving.” On her ability to instill enthusiasm for the subject matter in students: “Dr. Gakhar’s preparation and creativity allow for a unique learning environment that cultivates the minds of those eager to learn.”

Students particularly noted Gakhar’s consideration for students experiencing difficult life circumstances. “Her effect on students reaches far beyond the university setting—touching the lives of loved ones,” a nominator said, adding that Gakhar expressed confidence in the student and provided emotional support. “I wish I had met Gunjan earlier in my time at WSU,” another said. “I would know that there’s someone who is understanding that there’s more going on in a student’s life besides just a homework assignment.”

Gakhar grew up in India and attended Punjab Agricultural University for her bachelor’s and master’s degree. She served as a veterinarian at the university for almost two years before traveling to the United States for her Ph.D. at Kansas State University. She was a postdoctoral fellow and later research assistant at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, and has been teaching at WSU Vancouver since 2015.

“I love teaching because every day I get to learn from the incredible WSU Vancouver students— and also in hopes that I can make an impact on their lives,” Gakhar said. “When I was growing up, my teachers taught me so many things both academic and nonacademic that shaped me and helped me in my growth. I want to do the same.”

Gakhar’s popularity with students despite challenging coursework is well known, to the point that she led a faculty workshop on ways to connect with students. She stressed the importance of, among other things, using students’ names, adapting the course based on student feedback and giving students the opportunity to interact with each other.

One nominator sums it up as follows: “She is so passionate, kind and loving. Her love for microbiology just shows in her teaching and she truly cares for her students. Gunjan Gakhar is very deserving of this award.”


Past award recipients

2021 – 2022
Carol Siegel

2020 – 2021
Dene Grigar

2019 – 2020
Andra Chastain

2018 – 2019
Hua Tan

2017 – 2018
Dale Fortin

2016 – 2017
Enrique Brouwer

2015 – 2016
Gretchen Rollwagen-Bollens

2014 – 2015
Tom Tripp

2013 – 2014
Dene Grigar

2012 – 2013
Ron Pimentel

2011 – 2012
Wei Xue

2010 – 2011
Maria Lee-Lopez

2009 – 2010
Pavithra Narayanan

2008 – 2009
Dawn Banker

2007 – 2008
Marcelo Diversi

2006 – 2007
Mark Stephan

2005 – 2006
Christopher Plouffe

2004 – 2005
Paul Thiers

2003 – 2004
Kandy Robertson

2002 – 2003
Suzanne Smith

2001 – 2002
Melissa Gruys

2000 – 2001
Jackie McReynolds

1999 – 2000
Tom Tripp

1998 – 1999
Lori Irving

1997 – 1998
Carolyn Long

1996 – 1997
Mike Morgan

1995 – 1996
Claire Latham
Lori Irving

1994 – 1995
Corlene Ankrum

1993 – 1994
Jerry Goodstein

1992 – 1993
Randy Kleinhesselink

1991 – 1992
Charles “Cap” Peck

1990 – 1991
Georgie Weatherby