Daniel Eberl, professor in the University of Iowa Department of Biology, has been named a recipient of the 2021 Collegiate Teaching Award by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Eberl's research focuses on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of hearing and auditory behavior, using the "love song" of fruit flies as a model. In addition to his position in the Department of Biology, he serves as director of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Genetics, a program of the Graduate College, and is an adjunct professor in the UI Department of Otolaryngology.
Eberl's students are eager to talk about his caring and personal approach to teaching.
"The Animal Behavior course was one of the most interesting courses I have taken during my academic career, largely due to Dr. Eberl’s approach to presenting and providing additional examples and context to keep students engaged," one undergraduate teaching assistant said. "He prioritizes his students’ needs and dedicates time to answering students’ questions in lecture and ensuring material was understood by all students. He is always friendly, approachable, and happy to meet with students outside of class, both during his office hours and outside of his scheduled office hours to accommodate students. Being a student of his and seeing how much he cares about his students, made me much more interested in both learning and teaching."
Students also appreciate Eberl's advocacy for the value of undergraduate research.
"I have gained a lot of confidence in my skills as a biologist and working in a lab in general," said a student who joined Eberl's lab. "Now, Dr. Eberl pushes me to work independently, read literature closely and find things out for myself. However, I always feel comfortable asking him for help and guidance on my project. Our lab meetings facilitate great discussion on current literature, presentation of work that we have done, and building relationships between colleagues. I have developed a great mentor relationship with Dr. Eberl and am grateful for his advice, whether it be in the lab, for classes, future paths, or life in general."
Graduate students find Eberl to be an inspiring teacher and mentor.
"Dr. Eberl’s use of concrete evidence, facts, and data from the scientific literature in his teaching expanded the scope of the ideas we were learning about, and allowed us as students to reflect more objectively on new concepts, be open to different approaches and to think critically about the topics we were learning," said one graduate student. "His skills do not end with his office work. As an international student in his program, I feel I can always count on him for advice and guidance in both academic and personal matters."
Eberl's colleagues are equally impressed by his ability to teach complex and advanced material while building meaningful personal relationships with his students.
"Professor Eberl invests significant energy into making personal connections with each student," noted Diane Slusarski, professor and chair of the Department of Biology. "Using this approach helps the students feel valuable and catalyzes their commitment and engagement with material and with the learning process. This is exemplified by his effort in learning each student’s name, spending time in the laboratory sections to interact with them, and recognizing their accomplishments such as graduation. He also solicits feedback from his class on his teaching practices and incorporates that feedback in a way that is responsive to the students and, again, makes them feel that they have an impact in bettering their own education."
Eberl earned his PhD from the University of Guelph in Canada, and joined the UI faculty in 1998.