Faculty awards during Honors Week include prestigious teaching professorships to five faculty members who were named Josiah Meigs Distinguished Professors for 2020, the university’s highest recognition for instruction at the undergraduate and graduate levels. One of the five is Professor John Knox of the department of geography:
After eight years as a lecturer and associate research scientist, a tenure-eligible position in 2008, promotions to associate professor in 2011 and professor in 2017, Knox brings a complete understanding of the classroom and the laboratory to his courses. His teaching-intensive faculty role, with a teaching load of six courses per year, including the GRSC 7770 course for teaching assistants on how to teach, brings hundreds of UGA students at every level into his orbit every academic year and more than 6,000 students during his UGA career so far.
“Dr. Knox specifically aspires to improve his already-impressive teaching practice in six focal areas by drawing from state-of-the-art pedagogic literature, self-reflexivity and trial and error, and by seeking critical feedback from peers and students,” wrote one colleague. “He is immensely creative and consistently finds new ways to connect with students, even as their expectations and experience change over time.”
Knox works to continually refine his methods and ensure that he is engaging each student in the best ways possible.
Over the course of his career, Knox has taught more than 120 course sections including “Atmospheric Hazards,” “Atmospheric Thermodynamics” and a “Weather Forecasting Seminar.” However, Knox’s commitment to engaging students extends beyond the traditional classroom. In a recent headline event, “Eclipse Blackout Between the Hedges” held in Sanford Stadium in 2017, Knox conceived of, co-planned and co-hosted with Marshall Shepherd an educational gathering in Sanford Stadium to leverage the 99.1% total eclipse in Athens. The event was one of the largest ever eclipse-related educational events; more than 20,000 people attended in person, and 17,000 K-12 students in 20 area schools participated via a collaboration with UGA College of Education professor Julie Luft.
Through consistent exploration along different avenues of knowledge, modeling and discovery, Knox aspires to make students curious about weather and climate and inspire them to think about broad dynamics and systems affecting the planet.
“Dr. Knox makes his lectures engaging for students who come from a variety of educational backgrounds,” wrote one former student. “He is able to captivate his audience—whether it be a couple-hundred-person introductory class filled with business majors seeking only to fulfill their physical science requirement or a small room of meteorology students eagerly looking to expand their understanding of the atmosphere.”
Image: The 2014 team of UGA atmospheric sciences program students that placed third in the WxChallenge competition, managed by Dr. Knox (in tie).