Congratulations to Dr. Melanie Link-Pérez
Recipient of the 2018 ASPT Engagement and Excellence in
Plant Systematics Education Award
Oregon State University’s Dr. Melanie Link-Pérez has been selected as the recipient of this year’s Engagement and Excellence in Plant Systematics Education Award (EEPSEA) from the America Society of Plant Taxonomists (ASPT). The EEPSEA award was established in 2013 in order to recognize educators who have implemented and developed innovative methods for engaging students in the study of plant systematics in the classroom, laboratory or during outreach activities.
Implementing a number of pedagogical techniques in her classroom setting, Dr. Link-Pérez has developed an innovative use of art and science in the course Plant Structure, which encourages students to illustrate and document anatomical and morphological features of plants in order to highlight their evolutionary relationships and histories. During the course, students contribute blogs documenting their experiences in the class and the many structures that they encounter. Laboratory images and/or drawings of these various anatomies can be found in the posts along with labels and explanations of what the reader is seeing. Students also share their images on social media using a consistent set of hashtags (e.g., #BOT313) so that others may easily follow along; consequently, extending the reach of the course. To top it off, Dr. Link-Pérez also maintains the YouTube channel Beyond the Bean Seed where she demonstrates lab techniques, such as how to do hand cross sections, and introduces viewers to important topics in plant anatomy. Lastly, her use of technology to disseminate information and increase knowledge retention is further highlighted by the use of iNaturalist in the classroom for Flora of the Pacific Northwest, a course which Dr. Link-Pérez has revamped since arriving at OSU.
Dr. Link-Pérez’s passion for botanical education is evident by the high praise for her courses, many of which quickly fill up during registration. Most excitingly, her enthusiasm for Botany will now be shared with non-Botany majors in the upcoming course Plants and Humanity, which will introduce students to the importance of plants to people kind and help alleviate the growing ailment that is plant blindness.
Dr. Link-Pérez received her PhD from Miami University. Now as Instructor & Herbarium Curator for the Department of Botany & Plant Pathology at OSU in Corvallis, Oregon, she teaches and advises undergraduates, curates the herbarium collections, and provides the community with informative workshops such as Tips, Tricks, and Tech, a Master Gardener course introducing participants to nomenclature, plant identification, as well as iNaturalist and the Oregon Flora apps. She can be found on Twitter at @MLinkPerez or at her lab website http://link-perezlab.weebly.com/.