Sarah C.R. Elgin, Ph.D., received a 2004 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Dec. 1 at the Holiday Inn Executive Center in Columbia, Mo., from then-Gov. Bob Holden.
Elgin is professor of biology and of education, both in Arts & Sciences, and professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics and of genetics in the School of Medicine.
“No faculty member could better represent Washington University as recipient of this award,” said Edward S. Macias, Ph.D., executive vice chancellor, dean of Arts & Sciences and the Barbara and David Thomas Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences.
“When asked for nominations, we were asked to consider effective teaching and advising, service to the university community, commitment to high standards of excellence, and success in nurturing student achievement. Sally Elgin fills all the criteria and more.
“She has been enormously important to a great number of our students for more than two decades. She has made a major impact on K-12 science education that has strengthened our local schools and bonded the University with them.”
Since 1981, her work has led to increased understanding of the role of chromatin structure in the regulation of gene expression, most recently focusing on how DNA is packaged to maintain a silent state. Recent findings that show only a small fraction of the genome actually codes for expressed genes has increased interest in how silencing is accomplished.
While Elgin early on at WUSTL taught a lecture/discussion course on chromatin structure, she recently switched to a lecture/discussion/lab course on molecular genetics for sophomores.
She also assumed broader responsibilities, serving as director for the University’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s (HHMI) Undergraduate Biological Sciences Education Program since 1992. HHMI funding allowed implementation of a pre-freshman summer research program, as well as support of summer undergraduate research at the University.
Elgin began a “Science Education Partnership” with her children’s University City school district in the late 1980s. Her current efforts are focused on bringing genomics into both the undergraduate curriculum and the K-12 Science Outreach program at the University.
Elgin serves on the editorial boards of Molecular & Cellular Biology and Molecular Cell, and is co-editor in chief of Cell Biology Education. She is a member of the University City Science Advisory Council and of the Scientific Advisory Panel for the National Institutes of Health’s ENCODE project, an effort to document functional elements in 1 percent of the human genome.