The award is given annually by the OSU chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, the faculty honorary society, to an assistant professor who “has conducted outstanding research or creative work in the arts, sciences, or professional fields, especially while at OSU.”
Rowe, who is based at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, is an assistant professor and Oregon Sea Grant marine education specialist who has helped shape OSU’s efforts in the field of science and math “free-choice learning” – the learning people do outside formal academic settings. That work has included working with graduate students to design and test the effectiveness of aquarium education exhibits, bringing public school teachers together with scientists to increase their science and math teaching skills, and engaging with ocean scientists and OSU and across the US to help them more effectively communicate with the public.
Much of his research has been conducted at the Sea Grant-managed HMSC Visitor Center, which serves as a living laboratory for developing science-based exhibits and programs, and observing and testing how visitors respond and what they learn.
Most recently, Rowe has served as lead investigator on the Oregon Coast Aquatic and Marine Science Partnership, which gave 32 Lincoln County teachers an opportunity to design new field projects for their students through workshops with working scientists. One result: 77% of 8th-grade students taught by participating teachers met or exceeded the Oregon standard for science knowledge and skills, compared to 54% in classes taught by teachers who had not participated in the program.
In nominating Rowe for the award, David Hansen, Sea Grant Extension program leader, cited his work on a bilingual family learning project, his participation in a climate change community-engagement project, and his leadership in the National Science Foundation-funded regional Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence.
“Dr. Rowe is making important contributions to the science of public engagement at local, regional and national scales,” Hansen wrote.
The award was presented earlier this month on the OSU campus in Corvallis.