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Janice Chism
Name: Janice Chism
Position: Biology Professor

Janice Chism
Janice Chism and her husband, fellow Biology Professor Bill Rogers, talk about teaching constantly.

“I love teaching and have worked hard to be a better teacher,” she said. The couple discuss strategies and test some ideas on their 31-year-old daughter.

Chism, who is the only Winthrop faculty member to be awarded all four faculty awards, said that having great college mentors at her alma mater, University of California-Berkeley, helped set her on a good path.

The West Coast native started college as a theatre major and ended up in biology. So she knows what it’s like to study a topic that seems like a foreign language and works hard now to keep her classes interesting. “I can advise my students that their interests may develop in ways that they can’t predict,” Chism said.

Her Berkeley professors connected their lessons to current events, something Chism models to this day. For instance, she and colleague Laura Glasscock have worked to help students understand how the Ebola virus and Zika fever affect the ecology.

She has also appreciated Winthrop colleagues who are devoted and gifted teachers. For many years Economics Professor Gary Stone invited her to be part of the “Passionate About Teaching” sessions he ran for new faculty. Chism said she always learned new approaches from the other Kinard Award winners at the sessions and from the new faculty themselves.

Chism explains to her students the positives of science advancement and the negatives. “As a community, we always have to think of the cost of advancement and be cautious about unintended consequences,” she said.

Helping inform Chism’s teachings are the study of monkeys in Africa, the Caribbean and South America. She and her husband have led class expeditions to the Peruvian Amazon and the Galapagos Islands in the past decade.

This summer, the couple took 12 students to Peru to study conservation methods. While there, the Winthrop students carried out a service learning activity, Project Wet, with young children and teenagers from a local village focused on water and its role in their river community. The Winthrop students also carried out short research projects in the field.

Chism started work at Winthrop in 1989 as an instructor of anthropology and biology before becoming an assistant professor in 1992, associate professor in 1998 and professor in 2003. She also is the director of the biology graduate program. She teaches a wide variety of courses in biology and biological anthropology at the undergraduate and graduate level.

In May, Chism received the 2018 Distinguished Professor Award and has been the recipient of three other faculty awards at Winthrop: Outstanding Junior Professor, Kinard Award for Excellence in Teaching and Jane LaRoche Graduate Faculty Award.

Chism deeply appreciates the awards as they point to the importance of teaching at Winthrop, the part of her job she finds most fulfilling.

Last updated 8/21/18

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