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Geology & Geophysics Graduate Students Earn National Teaching Assistant Awards teaser image

Geology & Geophysics Graduate Students Earn National Teaching Assistant Awards

Reid "Zeke" Buskirk '21 and Dirk van de Laar '18 are among 14 recipients of the 2024 National Association of Geoscience Teachers Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award recognizing excellence in teaching.

By Grant Hawkins, College of Arts & Sciences Marketing & Communications

Reid "Zeke" Buskirk '21 and Dirk van de Laar '18, graduate students in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Texas A&M University, have been selected as recipients of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) Outstanding Teaching Assistant (TA) Award

Buskirk and van de Laar are among 14 honorees recognized with the prestigious honor, announced in January. Both undergraduate and graduate teaching assistants are eligible for the award, which is bestowed twice a year in January and June on the basis of demonstrated excellence as teaching assistants. 

“The National Association of Geoscience Teachers is committed to improving geoscience teaching and student learning,” said NAGT Councilor-at-Large Dr. Katherine Ryker, an associate professor of geoscience education research and co-director of the Center for Science Education at the University of South Carolina. “Effective teaching assistants are an important part of that equation.”

Buskirk previously earned his master's of science in geology from Texas A&M in 2021 and is currently a Ph.D. student researching iron and arsenic contamination in aquifers. van de Laar earned his bachelor's degree in geology from Texas A&M in 2018 and, as a current Ph.D. student, focuses his research on geochemistry as applied to human health.

Instructional Assistant Professor of Geology and Geophysics Dr. Brandi Lenz says the duo was recommended for the award based on evidence of their transformational teaching results in laboratory, lecture, writing and field settings in combination with their experience in curriculum design and their commitment to career development as teachers.  

“We are so lucky to have such wonderful TAs in our department sharing their passion for geology and geophysics through education,” said Lenz, who also serves as undergraduate program director for the department.  

As TA Award recipients, Buskirk and van de Laar each receive a one-year membership in NAGT, which includes an online subscription to the Journal of Geoscience Education and the NAGT’s In The Trenches quarterly magazine.

This story originally appeared on the Texas A&M College of Arts & Sciences news page.  

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