After years of practicing landscape architecture professionally, Qing Luo came to Oklahoma State University in January 2015 to begin a brand-new journey as an assistant professor and Extension specialist in the OSU Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.
On a typical day in Luo’s life, she spends most of her time teaching students. You can usually find her either working with students, grading papers or preparing for class. While her schedule keeps her busy, her job is very rewarding, she said.
“I used to be a practitioner, so usually I would design projects for clients,” Luo said. “Now as a professor, teaching is my main responsibility. I love preparing materials for students that have the latest and newest information from the industry.”
Luo’s dedication to teaching and advising students earned her the 2020 Ferguson College of Agriculture Early Career Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award recognizes and promotes exceptional teaching by a faculty member with less than five years of experience in higher education teaching.
“I feel very honored to be selected as this year’s teaching award recipient,” Luo said. “There are so many great professors in our college, and I feel humbled to be one of them. This award only encourages me to do even better to serve our students, OSU and the community.”
Luo enjoys watching students learn the information as she delivers it and does her best to stay up to date with the current industry trends. When her students succeed, she celebrates right alongside them.
“I love seeing students be successful,” Luo said. “Whenever they do a great design for a project or get an internship or a job, I feel like their success is my success.”
Just like in her teaching, Luo excels in advising her students. This excellence can be attributed to Luo believing there is more to being an academic advisor than just handing students a list of classes to take. She takes the time to meet with students to see how they’re doing, what challenges they’re facing, and what they’re interested in for their future.
Cynda Clary, associate dean of academic programs for the Ferguson College of Agriculture, said she can see the impact Luo makes on students and is grateful for the time she invests in her students.
“Professor Luo always brings a fresh perspective and hands-on experiences to her classes, making her a valuable educator,” Clary said. “Students love being in her classroom because she has developed courses that have real-world applications to them and makes learning fun.”
Justin Moss, professor and head of the OSU Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, said Professor Luo has an excellent rapport with her students, and she has been a great influence on students’ landscape architecture careers.
“Professor Luo’s students gain a unique experience in her courses and they absolutely love and enjoy the real-world problem solving and learning opportunities,” Moss said.
Luo is the first landscape architecture faculty member to have a split appointment in teaching and extension and is a tremendous asset to the department, Moss said.
“I believe students love to learn from Professor Luo because she is genuine, dedicated and truly cares about her students,” Moss said. “She has helped them to succeed, to see things differently, to be design minded, and to make an impact on their communities through excellent and environmentally responsible design concepts.”
Carmen Wright, a landscape architecture student at OSU and one of Luo’s students, said Luo encouraged her to take a studio class as a mechanical drafting major. Wright was looking into pursuing a graduate degree in landscape architecture and wanted to experience a class, and Luo gave her the opportunity.
“Although I had already been leaning toward landscape architecture, Professor Luo gave me confidence in the choice and helped me make better plans for graduate programs,” Wright said. “Several other students in my classes with Professor Luo have told me about receiving similar good advice and encouragement, even though their professional goals are different.”
Wright believes this individual attention is one reason why the students Luo advises tend to have clear goals and confidence in their chosen field. Luo also empowers her students to take advantage of out-of-classroom opportunities to get involved in the landscape architecture industry.
“Professor Luo also helps students connect with the profession outside of classes,” Wright said. “When the Oklahoma ASLA [American Society of Landscape Architecture] conference was scheduled to be held in Tulsa, she arranged for all her students to attend for free and helped organize rides.”
Educational classwork can be very different from the realities of professional practice, but Luo’s attention to professional exposure, hands-on projects and site visits are deeply appreciated, Wright said.
“Professor Luo has gone out of her way to help me feel at home at OSU and achieve my educational goals beyond what I hoped,” Wright said.