Thursday, January 4, 2024

Klesse College faculty member honored by University of Texas System for teaching excellence

Klesse College faculty member honored by University of Texas System for teaching excellence

OCTOBER 11, 2023 — UTSA professor Nehal Abu-Lail will receive the 2023 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award from The University of Texas System. She is one of 14 educators from across the UT System being recognized by the Board of Regents for exceptional teaching performance and innovation.

“Dr. Abu-Lail has served as a leader in the development of our curriculum, supporting our students, and delivering courses in chemical engineering,” said Eric Brey, interim dean of the Margie and Bill Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design at UTSA (Klesse College). “She is committed to the success of our students, she is a tireless advocate for diversity in teaching, and she consistently goes above and beyond in her support for the educational mission of our department, college and university.”

Abu-Lail is a professor and interim chair of the biomedical engineering and chemical engineering department. She is also the 54th UTSA faculty member to receive the Regent’s Outstanding Teaching Award.

“She is a role model for her students and her colleagues, demonstrating a passion for engineering, teaching and research.”

“It is an honor to be recognized with the Regent’s award,” Abu-Lail said. “This is a validation of my approach to teaching which emphasizes providing a safe and inclusive classroom environment that accounts for the diverse ways students learn.”

Since joining UTSA in 2018, Abu-Lail has been instrumental in building the university’s chemical engineering program. She has developed and delivers core chemical engineering courses primarily for upper division students and serves as a faculty mentor for independent study and research courses.

Student comments from recent course evaluations highlight Abu-Lail’s passion for ensuring her students will be successful beyond the classroom or lab. Using engaging lectures and various active learning methods, she helps students connect the difficult topics they are learning with real-world applications. Students also point out that she always makes herself available to help her students in and outside of class.

“This award is so well-deserved,” said Heather Shipley, UTSA interim provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “Dr. Abu-Lail has made outstanding contributions to UTSA and to her field. She is a role model for her students and her colleagues, demonstrating a passion for engineering, teaching and research. Her commitment and dedication are prime examples of why our faculty are at the center of UTSA’s success.”

With more than 20 years of experience teaching at the college level, Abu-Lail has mentored more than 90 undergraduate student researchers. She has also been the primary advisor for 17 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, many of whom now enjoy successful careers in academia and research.

Abu-Lail serves as PI or co-PI on several grant-funded projects aimed at incorporating culturally responsive and culturally relevant pedagogies to empower diverse students and increase their success.

Prior to this award, Abu-Lail received the Klesse College Excellence in Teaching Award in 2022 and the Chemical Engineering Excellence in Teaching award in 2021.

Read more about the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award nomination process and past recipients.
Explore other faculty awards, opportunities and resources at the UTSA Faculty Success website.

The University of Texas System Board of Regents established the annual Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards program in 2008 to honor excellence in undergraduate teaching. It is the pivotal teaching award within the UT System and widely regarded as one of the most prestigious teaching awards within higher education.

The award comes with a monetary prize of $25,000. The UT Board of Regents will formally recognize the recipients at its quarterly board meeting on November 20.

In January, Abu-Lail will also be inducted into the UTSA Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars, a group comprised of award-winning teachers who provide institutional leadership and guidance at the university through activities such as mentoring new faculty or developing seminars on teaching excellence.

— Sean M. Wood

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