Ralph Eckerlin Receives Outstanding Faculty Award
January 27, 2009
Dr. Ralph P. Eckerlin of Annandale has received the 2009 Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and Dominion. Twelve faculty members from Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities received the award, the highest honor bestowed upon faculty in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The award recognizes excellence in teaching, research, knowledge integration and public service.
Eckerlin, a longtime biology professor at Northern Virginia Community College, is the only community college faculty member to receive the award this year.
NOVA President Robert G.Templin Jr. congratulated Eckerlin on behalf of the College. “We are very pleased Dr. Eckerlin was selected for this prestigious honor. Throughout the years, Ralph has consistently demonstrated his strong commitment to teaching while also pursuing significant research in his field. His dedication was confirmed by the many letters of recommendation written by students and colleagues in support of his nomination,” Templin said.
Eckerlin has been at NOVA since 1971, teaching general biology, human anatomy and physiology, health science, and invertebrate zoology courses. As a co-author of the biology laboratory manual in use at the Annandale Campus, he has influenced the education of thousands of students.
“I enjoy what I do and what I do mostly is teaching,” Eckerlin said. “I have been a professional teacher for more than 40 years and it is still a pleasure to get up in the morning and go to work. At the community college, we see the broadest spectrum of ages and abilities. The challenge for me is to try to reach all of them.”
Many of Eckerlin’s students have gone on to careers as physicians, nurses, scientists and teachers. A former student who is now a doctor wrote to Eckerlin: “I wanted to thank you for your contagious interest and love for life, as well as your inspiration to be passionate and generous.”
Believing hands-on training to be an important learning tool, Eckerlin has led or co-led several student trips to study tropical biology in such places as Mexico, Central America, the Bahamas and the West Indies, providing experiences that are unusual for community college students.
As a parasitologist with numerous interests, Eckerlin has described four new species of parasites: a protozoan, a louse and two fleas. He has also published on ticks, nematodes and trematodes.
Eckerlin is also a prolific writer. He has authored or co-authored more than 30 peer-reviewed publications in scientific journals, has contributed three book chapters, and edited a volume of contributed papers for a book on Appalachian Biogeography for the Virginia Museum of Natural History. He has been a member of the editorial board for the journal “Comparative Parasitology” for 24 years and served that publication as editor for five years. He regularly reviews manuscripts for several other journals.
Eckerlin doesn’t just belong to 14 professional organizations, he has an extensive record of service to those groups. In addition to serving as president of the Entomological Society of Washington, Helminthological Society of Washington, Virginia Association for Biological Education and the Tropical Medicine Association of Washington, he readily shares his expertise with many professional committees.
Eckerlin holds a doctorate in parasitology from the University of Connecticut. He and his wife live in Annandale and have two daughters.
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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America’s largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 60,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College’s Web site, www.nvcc.edu.