The American Meat Science Association (AMSA) announces Dr. Elisabeth Huff-Lonergan as the recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Teaching Award. The award was established to recognize excellence in the teaching of undergraduate and graduate meat science courses and the impact on the lives of those students in a highly positive manner. The award is sponsored by Hawkins, Inc. Dr. Elisabeth Huff-Lonergan will be honored on Thursday, August 6, 2020 at 3:30 p.m. (CST), during the Virtual 66th International Congress of Meat Science and Technology (ICoMST) and the AMSA 73rd Reciprocal Meat Conference (RMC) awards presentation.

Dr. Elisabeth Huff-Lonergan is a professor of meat science and muscle biology at Iowa State University (ISU).  She received her B.S in Food Science from the University of Missouri and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Meat Science and Muscle Biology from Iowa State University.  She began her faculty career at Auburn University before moving to Iowa State in 1998. Huff-Lonergan's work in meat science has transformed the meat science teaching program at Iowa State University by creating innovative new courses, reinventing existing curricula, and applying new ways to foster student learning.  She has enhanced faculty programs and was the author and the key leader in the implementation of peer review of teaching and learning in her department. She refined her signature courses (a junior-level course -Fresh Meats and a fundamental graduate-level course-Advanced Meat Science and Applied Muscle Biology) to increase the impact of these courses.  She has developed a new, junior-level course on pet foods (Food Processing for Companion Animals). The latter has filled a unique need in the department for a large number of students interested in companion animals.  She has adapted her graduate-level fresh meat and applied muscle biology course to an online course to reach professionals who cannot come to campus.

Huff-Lonergan's passion for the meat and pet food industries has motivated her to seek new educational opportunities for both the industry and students. For example, the pet food industry uses many human food products and by-products that meat science students are uniquely prepared to understand. Huff-Lonergan recognized that a course introducing them to pet food processing would assist these students and the industry by providing them with the science involved with meat products and the technologies of food processing. Indeed, many of the students from her class are now working professionals in the pet food industry.

She firmly believes students must have the necessary information required to think creatively to improve and troubleshoot the processes that they may encounter in their industry. To develop these skills in her graduate and undergraduate courses, Huff-Lonergan provides the students with information on both emerging and ongoing issues facing the industry and asks them to engage with those issues via projects assigned as troubleshooting scenarios. Students are required to go beyond merely memorizing material to using the information presented in class for semester-long projects that require them to prepare a written and oral project reports that analyzes the problem in detail and offers potential solutions. Huff-Lonergan is a faculty leader in an innovative ISU Agriculture Policy and Leadership course that generates in-person collaboration opportunities for undergraduate students with mentors at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). In this policy and leadership course, she guides the students in an immersive experience of working in teams with a real client (FAO) to develop educational products that FAO uses in their policy and education efforts. This ambitious course requires critical thinking, problem-solving, and effective reporting in a practical, real-life, international scenario.

Huff-Lonergan has also been influential in helping instructors in her department improve their teaching. She was instrumental in bringing a comprehensive Peer Evaluation of Teaching program to her department. Traditionally, many instructors only receive feedback in the form of course evaluations of students, provided in response to surveys distributed to students at the end of a semester and classroom teaching observations by other faculty. While these are essential snapshots of how things in the classroom are going, it is far from a complete picture of the whole instructional effort of an instructor. Huff-Lonergan's work on the Peer Evaluation of Teaching program focuses the evaluation on the entire instructional effort of a teacher – including syllabi development, class interaction, exams, projects, and all related instructional activities. Her efforts in continuous improvement in teaching have helped change the way instructors in her department evaluate their teaching effectiveness, allowing them to become better, more impactful teachers.

Huff-Lonergan is an outstanding instructor of fundamental graduate and undergraduate meat science and muscle biology courses at Iowa State University. Her former students are employed in academia and industry in career positions.  Further, she has provided significant foresight in providing for student career opportunities by developing and teaching a pet foods course for students interested in companion animals and meat products.