Margaret Bloch Qazi wins 2019 Carlson Award for Distinguished TeachingA member of the Gustavus community since 2003, Dr. Bloch Qazi was presented the award at the 2019 commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 1.
Posted on June 5th, 2019 by

Photo by Nick Theisen '15 for Gustavus Adolphus College.

Gustavus Adolphus College biology professor Margaret Bloch Qazi was named the winner of the 2019 Edgar M. Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching at the College’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, July 1.

Bloch Qazi was introduced by last year’s award winner, history professor Greg Kaster. In keeping with Gustavus tradition, Kaster’s introduction slowly revealed the 2019 winner, sharing accolades from students and colleagues, then the academic discipline, then her specific research agenda before mentioning Bloch Qazi by name. “It’s always fun to listen and try to figure out who the winner is,” Bloch Qazi said. “When I realized it was me, I felt happy and a deep sense of gratitude to my students and colleagues.”

Bloch Qazi has been described by students as “accessible,” “friendly,” “extremely patient,” “creative,” and, perhaps most impressively, as a professor who “wants every single one of us to learn and be amazed by what we are learning.”

A member of the Gustavus faculty since 2003, Bloch Qazi teaches organismal biology, developmental biology, and entomology in both lecture and laboratory settings. Her research uses techniques and questions from the disciplines of animal behavior, physiology, genetics, development, and evolution to study insect reproductive physiology in the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster).

Dr. Margaret Bloch Qazi congratulates a graduate at the 2019 commencement ceremony.

Her belief in the power of the liberal arts stretches back to her undergraduate days at Wellesley College, when she was learning about Descartes in a philosophy class and connected his ideas with the scientific method she was using in her biology classes. That interdisciplinary, liberal arts approach stuck with her throughout her doctoral studies at Tufts University and postdoctoral work at Cornell University and has continued to inform her teaching at Gustavus.

“I think that science is a way of learning that’s less about memorizing facts than it is about the process of creating knowledge,” Bloch Qazi explained. “Science isn’t a worldview, it’s a way of knowing,” she added, paraphrasing Robin Wall Kimmerer (author of Braiding Sweetgrass).

“All learning happens within a cultural context,” said Bloch Qazi, who is intentional about introducing ethical discussion into her biology classes. “The study of the liberal arts allow us to be aware of our role within the greater world so we can think critically and engage in community.”

Outside of the classroom, Bloch Qazi is currently serving as the John S. Kendall Center for Engaged Learning’s Faculty Associate for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, a role through which she continually seeks out ways that Gustavus can continue to grow community in ways that reflect the world’s diversity in all forms. Previously she has served as Chair of the Department of Biology, Chair of the Personnel Committee, and Director of the John S. Kendall Center for Engaged Learning.

“I’m so fortunate to work in concert with faculty, staff, students, and administrators at Gustavus to support this very special learning community,” Bloch Qazi said. “I’m really grateful for my family [her partner, Dr. Sanjive Qazi, is a research professor in the Gustavus biology department] and being surrounded by so many wonderful colleagues in the faculty and staff has allowed me to really lean into what it means to be a scientist in a social context.”

The Edgar M. Carlson Award was established by the Gustavus Board of Trustees in 1971 to honor former President Edgar Carlson for his years of distinguished leadership and in recognition of his commitment to academic excellence. Gustavus faculty, staff, administrators, and students nominate professors for this award, and each year at commencement a faculty member, selected by the Provost based on the recommendations of previous award recipients, is honored for their exceptional skill and effectiveness as an instructor.

Recent Carlson Award Recipients

2018: Gregory Kaster, History
2017: Pamela Kittelson, Biology
2016: Eric Carlson, History
2015: David Obermiller, History
2014: Matt Panciera, Classics
2013: Rebecca Fremo, English
2012: Alisa Rosenthal, Political Science
2011: Barbara Zust, Nursing
2010: Leila Brammer, Communication Studies
2009: Rick Orpen, Music
2008: Richard Leitch, Political Science
2007: Claude Brew, English
2006: Paul Saulnier, Physics
2005: Rob Gardner, Theatre and Dance
2004: Lisa Heldke, Philosophy
2003: Cindy Johnson, Biology
2002: Max Hailperin, Mathematics and Computer Science
2001: Gretchen Hofmeister, Chemistry
2000: Eric Eliason, English

A full list of past Carlson Award winners dating back to 1971 is available online.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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