Silver Circles: Robert Paul Malchow

Robert Paul Malchow
Robert Paul Malchow (Photo: Jenny Fontaine)

Since 1966, the Silver Circle Award has been presented to some of UIC’s best teachers. Winners, who are honored at their college commencements, receive $500 and their names join a long list of distinguished colleagues. But what makes the award especially meaningful is its selection committee: the graduating seniors.

Robert Paul Malchow
Associate professor of biological sciences
Silver Circles: 3
Years at UIC: 32

What does it mean to win this award from graduating seniors: 
For me, this is a very special award that is greatly appreciated, and I feel truly honored since the award comes specifically from the students themselves. It means a lot to me that students who have taken my classes believe they have had a meaningful learning experience.

What do you teach:  
Over this past year: Bios 100, Introductory Biology of Cells and Organisms; Bios 240, Principles of Animal Physiology; Hon 201, Nobel Prize in Physiology / Medicine; Hon 201, Mind, Body & Spirit: The Neuroscience of Religious Experience; lectures in Bios 286, Biology of the Brain; a lecture in Bios 582, Methods in Modern Neuroscience; and a lecture in Phys 552, Human Physiology

How do you engage students in your courses:
Students in Bios 100 and Bios 240 will likely remember a number of classroom demonstrations done with the help of the students themselves as active participants. They also are likely to remember a second microphone being passed around the class randomly; I ask a variety of questions throughout the class, and the students holding the microphone have to take a crack at the answer (if they don’t know, that is OK, but every student who gets the microphone has to at least tell me their name). I also ask a lot of clicker questions in my Bios 100 and 240 classes — students don’t have to get the correct answer, but I do want them to actively engage with the material being presented. I also try to get to know all the students’ first names in all the courses I teach (the classroom roster provided by Blackboard is key to making this work). Memorizing the names is the easy part; the challenging part sometimes is recognizing a given student in the classroom — the long hair that was brown in the ID picture might now be short and colored brilliant blue, for example.

What is your advice to graduating students:
Use what you have learned at UIC and elsewhere to brighten people’s lives, in whatever career you have chosen. Try to specifically plan a career and a life that betters the lives of those around you while meeting your own goals and desires. Finally, keep in mind that random acts of kindness go far farther than you might think — spread them around often!

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