Transformative. Distinguished. Innovative. Compassionate. Engaging. These are just some of the words colleagues and students use to describe Sathya Gopalakrishnan, an associate professor in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE).
Gopalakrishnan was one of ten educators at The Ohio State University recently honored with the Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching. The award recognizes recipients for their excellence in teaching and is sponsored by the Alumni Association, University Advancement and The Office of Academic Affairs. Recipients are also inducted into the Academy of Teaching at Ohio State.
Students broke into applause as Gopalakrishnan was surprised with the news of her award during what she thought would be another regular Wednesday morning in her Environmental and Natural Resources Economics class. Instead, a group of colleagues and university senior leaders gathered to celebrate news of Gopalakrishnan’s well-deserved selection, as Senior Vice Provost Kay Wolf made the surprise announcement.
Also present to share in the celebration was Dean Cathann Kress, The Ohio State University Vice President for Agricultural Administration and Dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
“I am proud to see Dr. Gopalakrishnan, a transformative and compassionate educator, recognized for her commitment to teaching and student success,” Kress said. “She is not only committed to the intellectual development of our students in CFAES, but their personal development as well. Talented and innovative faculty like Dr. Gopalakrishnan are central to our mission of educating tomorrow’s thought leaders, and our students first philosophy – there was no better way for her to have gotten this news in front of her students,” Kress said.
AEDE Chair Tim Haab was also present to celebrate Gopalakrishnan’s commitment to teaching and mentorship.
“Dr. Gopalakrishnan has reached a level of excellence in teaching that few at Ohio State can claim,” Haab said. “She treats every interaction she has with students, colleagues and the public as an opportunity for teaching, mentoring and learning. From innovative use of technology in the classroom, to engaged classroom experiences and unwavering empathy and passion for students both in and beyond the classroom, Dr. Gopalakrishnan epitomizes distinguished teaching.”
In the last three years Gopalakrishnan has taught six courses at the undergraduate, masters and doctoral levels, graduated a PhD student and served on the committee for five others. She currently advises 25 undergraduate students and one PhD student.
Also noted was Gopalakrishnan’s commitment to active mentorship as a way to enhance inclusion and address inequalities. She co-leads graduate student initiatives organized by the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE) that provide professional development support and engage graduate students in environmental and natural resource economics.
"I was lucky enough to have Dr. Gopalakrishnan as my faculty mentor while I was majoring in Environment, Economy, Development, and Sustainability (EEDS),” said Juliet Hall, a 2019 graduate. “As is commonly said, representation matters. Dr. Gopalakrishnan represents diversity in the field and has overcome many barriers to be where she is today. For me, to have a woman to look up to in a field traditionally dominated by men helped me to feel both included in the field and to feel assured in my abilities. I’m confident that my fellow Buckeyes who are BIPOC or have disabilities feel the same way when working with Dr. Gopalakrishnan.”