Biological Sciences Professor Receives Statewide Teaching Honor

Stanley Schneider from the Department of Biological Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences is one of the recipients of the 2016 UNC Board of Governors Awards for Excellence in Teaching.

This annual honor recognizes one professor at each of North Carolina’s public institutions. The 17 recipients were nominated by individual campus committees and selected by the Board of Governors’ Committee on Personnel and Tenure. Each award winner will receive a commemorative bronze medallion and a $12,500 cash prize.

As a teacher, one of Schneider’s goals is to change the way students think about and live on Earth. “I want them to experience awe and a sense of privilege and responsibility for living on this planet,” he says.

Schneider’s passion for animal behavior, social insects including honeybees, and the evolution of social behavior is infectious, and his students thrive under his guidance. Schneider and colleagues explore how honeybees communicate, with potential implications for honeybee health.

Teaching is a social interaction, as the contagious enthusiasm of the teacher can capture students’ imaginations and help them dream, Schneider says. Excellent teachers are rigorous and fair, and they demonstrate respect for students by holding them to high standards of performance by providing clear, organized and relevant lectures, he says.

Schneider exposes students to the process of conducting research as he views this as the primary means by which students learn how new information is generated and synthesized into an existing body of knowledge. Since joining the UNC Charlotte faculty in 1985, Schneider has worked with over 150 graduate and undergraduate students through individualized instruction, many of whom have gone on to become productive biologists, teachers, researchers and entrepreneurs.

“I think it’s very important to take students through the entire process to completion, and completion is having the results published in a peer-reviewed journal,” he says. “They understand the importance of communicating your findings with the larger audience. That benefits them, and it benefits us and the university.”

Close to 60 percent of the Biological Sciences Honors students working with Schneider have published with him, some with multiple publications. Because of the finite time period during which undergraduates work with him, obtaining enough data to publish can at times prove difficult. This remains a goal for him, however.

“In a university, teaching and research are inextricably interlinked,” he says. “Lectures give people the background information necessary to train them to start applying it. Research training trains them to generate that knowledge themselves. So, you can’t separate the two. The interaction of those two is what moves education forward and what moves human understanding forward.”

Because of his research on honey bees, Schneider frequently is invited to give talks to beekeeping associations and gardening and birding clubs. Given the worldwide decline of pollinators, he sees these talks as an important public service, as he draws upon his research to teach the general public more about the role they can play in helping to combat the problem.

Schneider earned a doctoral degree in animal behavior from the University of California at Davis in 1984. His bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology are from Texas State University.

Established by the Board of Governors in 1994 to underscore the teaching and to award good teaching across the University, the Board of Governors Awards for Excellence in Teaching are given annually to a tenured faculty member from each UNC campus. Winners must have taught at their present institutions at least seven years. In fall 2015, Schneider was named the recipient of UNC Charlotte’s top teaching award, the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence.

In 2014, Schneider received the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences’ Award for the Integration of Undergraduate Teaching and Research. He has served as principal investigator or co-principal investigator on grants totaling $1.3 million, including funding to support undergraduate research.