Picture of Spencer A. Benson

Spencer A. Benson

Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology

University of Maryland College Park

Spencer Benson is the Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence, associate professor in the Dept. of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics and an affiliate associate professor in the Dept. of Curriculum and Instruction. Dr. Benson received his B.S. degree in Zoology from the University of Vermont and his Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of Chicago. As the director of a Center for Teaching Excellence at a large R1 state university, he is responsible for more than 20 programs for faculty, graduate students and undergraduates designed to improve teaching and learning. He has published numerous articles on science education, pedagogy, and professional development of graduate student and faculty.

Dr. Benson has served as departmental director of undergraduate studies, director of the departmental honors program, and as a consultant for Project 2061, NSF’s committee, for "The Integral Role of Two-Year Colleges in the Preparation of SMET Teachers", the Quality Undergraduate Education (QUE) initiative, and the Coalition for Education in the Life Science (CELS), an AAC&U visiting scientist for the Science Education for New Civic Engagement and Responsibility (SENCER) project and is a founding member of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSoTL).

He has been involved in numerous K-16 education initiatives at Maryland including an on-line Master Program in the Life Sciences for high school biology teachers http://www.e-learning.umd.edu/mlfsc. He is a program partner in a large K16 NSF Math-Science Partnership grant to the University System of Maryland, is co-PI on the NSF funded Change and Sustainability in Higher Education (CASHÉ) grant and co-PI on Project NEXUS, a NSF funded grant that looks a elementary and middle school science teaching. He has organized numerous local, nationals and international meetings on science education, SoTL and faculty development. He is past chair of the Undergraduate Education Committee of the American Society of Microbiology (ASM) and past chair of ASM’s Div-W (Teaching). He is a University of Maryland CTE-Lilly Teaching Fellow and has won numerous teaching awards. In 2001, he was selected as a Carnegie Fellow in the Carnegie Academy for the Advancement of Scholarship in Teaching and Learning (CASTL), in 2002 he received the CASE-Carnegie Maryland Professor of the Year award and in 2003 he received the University of Maryland System Regents Teaching Award. His discipline research involves looking at anti-microbial activities in traditional Chinese herbal medicines and development of pedagogies for teaching science for all students.