Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology
Illinois State University
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2011 Outstanding University Teacher Award Winner Category I

George Byrns, Ph.D.

  • Ph.D. in Occupational and Environmental Health from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (2000)
  • Professor of Environmental Health, Department of Health Sciences

Teaching philosophy

Understanding basic concepts is insufficient in environmental health; students must be taught to apply these concepts to solving real-world problems.

Most challenging aspect of teaching

Students’ poor reading comprehension is most challenging. I recently had some success in developing reading guides to help students focus on key concepts. Students who reported using them indicated that they did better in passing the reading quizzes.

Recommendation for colleagues

It is important to bring realism into the classroom and to make students care about the subject.

Best compliment from a student

The best compliment actually came from some parents. I was invited to a former student’s wedding, and this student’s parents thanked me for turning their son around. This was a total surprise because I had assumed this student was always a top achiever.

My motivation to become a professor

Dr. Eldon Savage was one of my undergraduate teachers who retired after a 20 year career with the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) to teach. He made such an impression I followed in his footsteps. After 25 years with the USPHS, I now give back to the profession by teaching.

Most rewarding aspect of teaching

The ability to interact with students. It is particularly rewarding when you see the light bulb go on, and a student learns a particularly challenging concept.

George Byrns, Ph. D.
“I value the use of humor (typically self-deprecating) to provide a more relaxed classroom atmosphere. I think that learning should be fun for both the teacher and the student.”
2017-07-20T13:28:05.4-05:00 2017