Linda Walters is one of the best biology professors in the country, according to one national organization.
The Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation named Walters the William A. Niering Outstanding Educator of the year. The award recognizes an individual who has played a particularly important role in education at any level — from primary school to the graduate level, inside or out of the classroom, or in the education of the public through outreach activities.
The organization, among the largest in the country, has a philosophy that education plays a central role in advancing understanding and wise stewardship of estuarine and coastal ecosystems worldwide.
Walters was selected for the honor because of her achievements within the field and her tireless efforts to help educate college students and the community.
Although she carries a substantial teaching load, Walters maintains a research program focused on oyster reef restoration in the Mosquito Lagoon and ecosystem restoration at the Canaveral National Seashore. She uses these activities to make new discoveries and engage the public.
Through her research, she has mentored, engaged and energized scores of students from pre-schoolers to graduate students. Her past outreach activities have included organizing an Oyster Appreciation Day at the Brevard Zoo, a Girl Scout Women in Science Day, and various oyster and invasive species programs at the Orlando Science Center. She also organized the upcoming Sept. 24th National Estuary Day events planned at UCF .
“It’s an honor to be selected. The award signifies that the efforts of many individuals, including a large number of stellar graduate students and undergraduates at UCF and some amazing colleagues, have had a positive impact in Florida,” Walters said.
It’s been a good week for Walters. She also was honored with the 2011 Florida Campus Compact Service-Learning Faculty Award for the state university sector. This award recognizes excellence in linking UCF courses with community needs. In this case, her students collaborated with local educators on how to bring hot topics in marine conservation to their classrooms.
Walters received a B.S. in Biology from Bates College and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Biology from the University of South Carolina. She joined UCF in 1997 and today balances her college duties and community work along with her duties as director of the Fellers House Field Station at the Canaveral National Seashore.