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Professor earns USDA Excellence in Teaching Award


An Iowa State University professor of agronomy has been awarded the annual USDA Food and Agricultural Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award. Lee Burras is one of nine people to receive the national award, which encompasses all the food and agricultural disciplines.

An Iowa State alum, with degrees in agronomy and soil science, Burras joined the faculty in 1995. He quickly became a favorite of students and advisees earning numerous awards for teaching and advising excellence at the college, university and professional society levels.

"Teaching and advising are inseparable endeavors. I strive to develop each student academically, professionally and personally. My charge is to help each student become a competent professional who is also a happy and involved member of society," Burras said. "The essence of my work is to facilitate each student's growth as an individual while simultaneously teaching him or her the fundamentals of professional knowledge and conduct," Burras said.

Burras received the award on Nov. 13 in San Francisco. The award is based on teaching quality, philosophy and methodology; service to the profession and students; and professional growth and development.

Wendy Wintersteen, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, supported Burras' nomination calling him a role model for all who teach.

"The enthusiasm Dr. Burras brings to teaching is absolutely contagious to students, fellow faculty and administration. He is a star," Wintersteen said. "In addition to teaching five courses per year, Dr. Burras is clearly the most trusted and respected leader in our college in terms of curricular matters. And nationally he is known, respected and admired."

A normal academic year for Burras involves teaching 13 credits, including at least one travel or immersion course; advising about 40 undergraduates; publishing one refereed manuscript and providing significant institutional service. He serves on major curriculum committees in agronomy, environmental science, the college and for the university Faculty Senate.

Burras is active in the Soil Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy. He also maintains a research program in the morphology, distribution and quality of soils and mentors graduate students.

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