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Instructor Michael Bruno wins POGIL Project Early Achievement Award

NCSSM Chemistry Instructor Michael Bruno is one of two instructors nationwide to win the POGIL PEACH award. This is the third annual early achievement award to be issued by the POGIL Project.

POGIL, which stands for Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning, is a student-centered, group-learning instructional strategy and philosophy developed through research on how students learn best. The POGIL Project works with educators to disseminate its unique pedagogy at the secondary and college levels through professional development workshops around the nation, as well as to produce POGIL curricular materials for both high school and university classrooms.

The POGIL PEACH, given to one secondary and one post-secondary instructor each year, honors practitioners who are new to the Project, have distinguished themselves by advancing the goals of The Project, and who have an exceptional level of enthusiasm for active learning. Other criteria include leadership, active participation in disseminating POGIL pedagogy, and service such as workshop facilitation, authorship of activities, and participation in grant proposals.

Bruno, along with post-secondary winner Kristen Plessel of the University of Wisconsin-Rock County, will be honored at the upcoming POGIL Project National Meeting in St. Louis this June, where each will be presented with a plaque and a cash award.

“I am excited to honor these two outstanding educators as recipients of the POGIL Early Achievement Award,” said Project Director Rick Moog. “Both Michael and Kristin have had a strong impact on the POGIL community and have contributed greatly to the growth and success of The Project.”

Bruno grew up in Connecticut, and received an A.B. in chemistry from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Cornell University. At Cornell, he studied changes in membrane elasticity caused by polyunsaturated fatty acids. As a post-doctoral researcher at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, he studied the role of membrane curvature on synaptic vesicle fusion. At UNC, he was a fellow in the SPIRE program, which combines research support and community service with an emphasis on minority careers in academic science.

It was as a SPIRE fellow that Bruno became interested in active learning. He was first introduced to POGIL as an assistant professor of chemistry at Guilford College. Bruno is currently an instructor of chemistry and chemistry coordinator at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, a public residential high school for talented students, where he uses POGIL to teach chemistry and biochemistry, and has introduced the practice to many of his colleagues, who now incorporate the pedagogy into their own classrooms.

“It is an honor to be recognized by my peers by receiving the PEACH Award,” said Bruno.  “The POGIL Project provides a unique opportunity for secondary school instructors to interact with faculty from higher education on a national level, as peers and equal contributors.  It is a tremendous privilege to be acknowledged by my colleagues in the POGIL Project and to have the continued support to pursue and improve on student-centric learning.”