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News Contact:
Cathy Summa-Wolfe
, Executive Director
Communications, Community Relations, and Advancement

National Biology Teacher Award in Honor of Gordon Chan

College Launches Fundraising Campaigns For Science Museum

Application Deadline: Saturday, March 15
NABT Website:, "Awards and Opportunities" link

KENTFIELD, CA—March 3, 2014—The National Association of Biology Teachers will be presenting the first “Professor Chan Two-Year College Award for the Engaged Teaching of Biology” this year thanks to a former student whose decades-old memories of her favorite professor continue to inspire her.

“Professor Gordon Chan was a creative, inspiring and unforgettable professor,” said Sarah Ann McBride, who, with her husband John Melville, a biologist and former college professor, is sponsoring the award. 

Chan, much loved for his engaging teaching style and passionate environmental pursuits, taught Biology at Marin Community College for 28 years until his death in 1996 from Lou Gerhig’s disease. He was 66. Many of his students went on to succesful careers in related fields, often remarking on his impact in books, papers and biographies.

Chan’s labs could include extraordinarily rare ventures into complex research techniques or include stories of his life outside the classroom conducting an excavation of a baleen whale fossil, the ecological preservation study of estuary habitats and shoreline restoration work after an oil spill. The couple often reflect on Professor Chan, and what an amazing educator he was.

“The education Professor Chan provided his students in a two-year college setting was a remarkable feat of dedication and ingenuity,” McBride said. “He is remembered and deeply honored by those of us fortunate enough to have had him as our teacher.”

The first annual NABT Chan award will be presented to a two-year college faculty member “who has successfully developed and demonstrated an innovative, hands-on approach in the teaching of biology and has carried their commitment to the community.” The recipient will receive $500 toward travel to the NABT Professional Development Conference in Cleveland in November and $1,500 of Vernier educational software and technology equipment. The recipient also receives a NABT recognition plaque and a one-year membership to organization. Online nominations will be accepted for the NABT award until Saturday, March 15.

The award celebrates the “unsung heroes” that “are becoming even more essential to our community and country,” Melville said. These are instructors doing amazing work at two-year colleges who often don’t get credit. “They are often adjuncts or underpaid instructors doing this because they love it.

“We decided that an award needed to be made for instructors at community colleges and junior colleges that would reward and rejuvenate people that have dedicated their lives to teaching biology and to giving back to the community like Professor Chan,” Melville said.

McBride earned a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis on cellular biology from Sonoma State University and a master’s degree in Community Health and Physical Therapy from Old Dominion University. She is physcial therapist in Portland, Ore. Melville, who has Biology and Psychology degrees, as well as a doctorate in Zoology, taught Biology for many years at two- and four-year colleges and currently is a Biology staff scientist and director of Biology at Vernier Software & Technology in Portland.

College Advancement Campaign To Honor Rich Teaching Legacy of Professors Gordon Chan and Al Molina

We are very pleased to announce that the College of Marin Science Museum has received a donation of $25,000 from the family of Dr. Gordon Chan, former biology professor, for the Science Museum. These funds will be used to purchase a medium display cabinet and also to name the marine biology collection in memory of Dr. Chan. Other friends, former students, and fans of Dr. Chan are encouraged to contribute to the project.

In addition, an effort is underway to recognize the legacy of former beloved Biology Professor Al Molina by dedicating a cabinet of museum collection in his honor.

Find out more about the COM Science Museum Fundraising Campaign.

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