Hunt selected as 2021 Kemper Fellow

April 13, 2021

Heather K. Hunt

Associate Prof. Heather K. Hunt in the Department of Biomedical, Biological and Chemical Engineering

Heather K. Hunt, associate professor in Biomedical, Biological & Chemical Engineering (BBCE) and faculty fellow for strategic initiatives for the UM System Office of eLearning, received a 2021 William T. Kemper Fellow award on Wednesday, April 7. She is one of just five Mizzou faculty members to be selected for this award given annually for teaching excellence.

“This is such a huge honor. I really appreciate all of my fellow faculty, students and colleagues in the Office of eLearning for all their guidance and mentorship over the years,” she said. “I am really lucky to work with really wonderful colleagues.”

Hunt remembers learning about the Kemper awards when she started at Mizzou in 2011.

“Reading the news releases about the Kemper awardees was very impactful; it was inspiring to see teaching – in all its forms – demonstrated with such quality and dedication,” she said.

Now, with being named a Kemper Fellow, Hunt feels honored for being recognized for her teaching efforts. Her classes emphasize connection between core concepts and how they are applied in the real-world, and how they reinforce the importance of engineering (and engineers) to society.

“It is vitally important that students understand the depth and complexity of responsibility that we have to our peers, to our profession, and to our community at large when we take on the duties of an engineer,” she said. “No matter where we go or what job we do, our work has a tremendous impact on countless people – for good or for ill.  It’s important that we take that seriously, and it starts in how we teach our courses.”

eLearning Expert

Beyond her teaching role, Hunt serves as one of two faculty fellows for the UM System’s Office of eLearning, and the only fellow from MU. She serves as a liaison with faculty across the system’s four campuses regarding online learning, and she works with eLearning’s staff to improve the quality of students’ and instructors’ experiences in online learning environments.

 “Her ascension into the faculty fellow role in the Office of eLearning, just before the COVID-19 pandemic, made her the go-to faculty resource for the transition to online learning. Her regular, reassuring presence at weekly Zoom meetings helped guide the campus through the unprecedented educational challenges of the pandemic,” College of Engineering Interim Dean Noah Manring and Kevin Gillis, chair of BBCE, wrote in a letter in support for her nomination.

“Having everyone go into emergency remote teaching in March was unprecedented and everyone was extremely busy,” Hunt said. “I have never seen so many people work so hard around the clock to make everything come together so quickly.”

Although the transition to online learning was sudden, Hunt’s expertise in online education development benefited the College and entire campus. In 2018, she helped found and currently serves as the coordinator for BBCE’s online master’s degree program in biological engineering. To accomplish this feat, she and many of her colleagues received training from what was formerly MU’s Course Design & Technology Office (now part of the UM System Office of eLearning) to make sure the quality of the online instruction met the same high standards as in-person classes.

Even though the goal of the online master’s program was to help working professionals stay current with best practices, many of the tips and lessons learned from that experience helped Hunt guide the transition to emergency remote teaching in April 2020.

The leadership displayed by Hunt in the transition to remote learning in 2020 is nothing new for her. Since joining MU, she has been active within the College of Engineering in a number of committees and leadership roles, including serving as the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the two bioengineering degree programs.

Hunt has also given of her time and talents to organizations outside the university. She is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Society for Engineering Education. She is also a Senior Member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and served as both an elected Councilor-at-Large for the Institute of Biological Engineering, and the Conference Chair for the 2018 and 2019 Institute of Biological Engineering’s Annual Meetings. Additionally, she also served as an Associate Editor of the BMC – Chemical Engineering Journal, published by the Springer-Nature Publishing Group. She has served on over 25 panels for various federal funding agencies.