Christy Bratcher, associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and director of the Auburn University Food Science Institute, has received the university’s Gerald and Emily Leischuck Endowed Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award is a university-wide honor that recognizes Auburn faculty who demonstrate a commitment to student success through innovative teaching and effective advising and who also excel in mentoring students inside and outside the classroom.
“Receiving this award is, without a doubt, one of the most meaningful honors I could have,” said Bratcher, who is in her 10th year at Auburn. “It is a great thing for faculty at Auburn to have donors like Dr. and Mrs. Leischuck, who felt so strongly about the excellence of teaching that they made this award possible.”
Bratcher has built a well-respected research and instructional program focused on meat science and food safety. Lauded for her enthusiastic instruction style by both students and colleagues, Bratcher is also noted as an outstanding mentor. She has developed a program that routinely involves animal sciences students in on-campus research and work at the Lambert-Powell Meat Labs.
“Dr. Bratcher has become a distinguished teacher at Auburn University while leading students inside and outside of the classroom,” her department head, Wayne Greene, said. “She accomplishes her teaching activities without taking away from her heavy research appointment. In fact, she blends the two together to provide seamless programming. She utilizes her students to solve problems facing our industry by incorporating them into her strong research and outreach programming.”
Bratcher is commended for extending her class curriculum beyond campus boundaries, facilitating external learning opportunities for her students through the partnerships she has forged with industry, government, consumers and other universities.
“I feel that the classroom should not get in the way of learning,” Bratcher said of her teaching philosophy. “I am continually looking for new, innovative ideas to engage students and to excite them in their pursuit of their degree so that they have the desire to learn and investigate the answers.”
As an example of her external approach to instruction, Bratcher leads her students on an annual, week-long field trip through the Southeast to visit industries, universities and government agencies associated with meat science for the purpose of exposing them to how their in-class education is used in the working world. She also accompanies students to industry conferences for workshops, hands-on learning and networking opportunities, and she has led study abroad tours to France and Spain to introduce students to other cultures and their agricultural practices.
“She is taking her students to the people,” Greene said. “It is absolutely amazing to see the energy these students have garnered from Dr. Bratcher. These students are well-trained as they enter the workforce.”
“As a teacher, it is my job to help cultivate the abilities of each student and help them to develop those abilities,” said Bratcher. “The students are the reason that I keep doing what I do on a daily basis.”