Guidance you can count on: Canaan wins Ferguson College of Agriculture Excellence in Undergraduate Student Advising and Mentoring Award
Friday, October 30, 2020
Patricia Canaan is a researcher, a teacher, and – if you ask any of her students – an excellent mentor. Canaan is a faculty member in the Oklahoma State University Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology where she teaches multiple undergraduate classes and has served as an academic advisor since 1982.
Her days consist of everything from lecturing in a classroom and researching with undergraduates, to meeting one-on-one with students who seek her sound advice.
“Normally I come into the office and I will engage in research with the undergraduate students,” Canaan said. “I then will usually polish up my lecture for the day before going into the classroom. I like to be fresh minded.”
Although her days are busy, Canaan finds time in the midst of her lectures and researching in the lab to squeeze in academic advising appointments with her students to offer them guidance as they navigate their classes and their future careers. Canaan’s passion for mentoring students earned her the 2020 Ferguson College of Agriculture Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Student Advising and Mentoring — an honor she is humbled to receive.
“It’s just a tremendous honor to know that other people are benefitting from the advising, mentoring and guidance that I’m giving,” Canaan said. “That just means everything to me, because that’s what I’m here for.”
Canaan works with undergraduate students and guides them through their research projects to understand the technologies associated with research in biochemistry and molecular biology. Canaan said she loves working with undergraduate students because they come in fresh-minded.
“Sometimes undergraduate students do not have the skills that they need,” Canaan said. “I enjoy being able to teach and train them and let them learn the technologies that they did not know before.”
Cynda Clary, associate dean of academic programs for the Ferguson College of Agriculture, said she is grateful for the passion Canaan brings to her teaching, mentoring and research, and the impact she is making in the college.
“Dr. Canaan’s passion for teaching and mentoring is evident in the way she interacts with students,” Clary said. “She values experiential learning and helps students understand the relevance of the skills they are learning in the classroom and in their labs.”
John Gustafson, professor and head of the OSU Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, said Canaan is one of the department’s most beloved advisors and mentors.
“Dr. Canaan remains firmly committed to OSU student success and is always available to our major’s and students,” Gustafson said. “She consistently provides individual care and attention to each of her students and provides them a level of advising and/or mentoring service that is unmatched in our department.”
Gustafson said from a student perspective, Canaan is one of the most approachable professors he has ever known, and she has a natural ability to interact with students, especially undergraduates.
“Dr. Canaan takes every chance possible to interact directly with undergraduates while conducting her advising duties and during the guidance of undergraduate researchers in her laboratory,” Gustafson said.
Dalton Cunningham, biochemistry and molecular biology graduate, said he felt compassion, love and encouragement from Canaan since his first day on campus at OSU.
“She was the first professor I met when I arrived on orientation day, and the last professor I ever had a class with before graduating in May of 2019,” Cunningham said. “Through thick and thin, Dr. Canaan was the rock I could lean on if I ever had questions regarding anything to my major or my future profession as an optometrist.”
Cunningham said Canaan was not only an amazing professor and advisor, but a friend that still, even after graduation, stays in contact with him to see how his life and optometry school is going.
“I could solely write about Dr. Canaan in the classroom and how both her teaching methods and engagement in the classroom as a professor made her my favorite professor of all at Oklahoma State,” Cunningham said. “But what sets her apart is not just her love for science. It is her love for the well-being of her students and their families as well.”