Dr. Paul Kelso knows a lot about geology and does an exceptional job of helping his students learn about it. In recognition of his superior skills in the classroom, the longtime geology professor was chosen to receive the Distinguished Teaching Award during Lake Superior State University’s commencement ceremony on May 5.
A committee of five of the most recent recipients of the award and graduating students with the highest-grade point averages in their schools chose Kelso based on nominations submitted by students, co-workers, and alumni. The award recipient is kept secret until it is announced at graduation.
“Recipients of the Distinguished Teaching Award exemplify the best of LSSU,” said Interim LSSU Provost David Roland Finley. “They demonstrate command of their subject matter, explain difficult concepts clearly, utilize creative and innovative methods to engage students, generate excitement and enthusiasm for their subjects, maintain challenging learning standards, inspire their students, and serve as a role model.
“Paul has developed innovative curricular models that commonly focus learning activities in field locations like the Black Hills, Wisconsin Dells, Appalachian Mountains, Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, and the Canadian Shield, to name a few,” added Finley. “As a result, many of his students have made significant research contributions to the field of geological science before graduating from LSSU.”
“It is my passion here to share what I learn to hopefully inspire my students,” Kelso said in accepting the honor. “What I enjoy most is watching my students go on in their careers. I also immensely enjoy working with the faculty and staff here. Thank you so much for this honor. I am very humbled.”
A member of the LSSU School of Physical Sciences since 1993, Kelso places an emphasis on active learning, real-life issues, and research experiences, which better prepare his students to be professional geoscientists working in private industry and to pursue graduate school opportunities.
Kelso has been a mentor for his students. His students examine geoscience problems such as environmental issues, water resources and associated sedimentary processes, mineral and energy resources, plate tectonic processes, and geologic hazards such as volcanoes and earthquakes.
Kelso involves a number of them in independent research projects. LSSU geology students have traveled with him to Australia, Idaho, Minnesota and numerous sites in Michigan and Ontario for field- and laboratory-based geologic research projects.
Nearly 100% of LSSU geology graduates in recent years were either accepted to graduate school or received job offers. Alumni, employers, and graduate schools all comment that LSSU geology graduates are generally better prepared than graduates from other universities.
Kelso, a native of Gaylord, Mich., and graduate of Gaylord High School, holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree in geophysics from University of Minnesota, and a bachelor’s degree in geology from LSSU. He and his wife Amy, also from Gaylord, live south of Sault Ste. Marie. They have two daughters, Mary and Sara.