Dr. Edralin Lucas
Winner of the Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching at a Research University
The winner of the Medal for Excellence in Teaching at a Research University is Dr. Edralin Lucas, the Jim and Lynne Williams Endowed Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Oklahoma State University. Lucas’s research focuses on the role of nutrition in promoting cardiovascular health and preventing chronic disease. A 30-year teaching veteran, Lucas has been recognized at OSU as an educator and mentor who sets high standards for academic success and goes the extra mile to help students succeed.
“She is understanding, yet holds students accountable,” said colleague Brenda Smith. “She communicates the importance of values, including hard work, striving for excellence, compassion as well as personal and professional integrity.”
Lucas teaches courses ranging from introductory Principles of Human Nutrition to graduate courses in Macronutrients and Nutrition and Evidence-Based Practice. She promotes student-centered learning by incorporating student-led discussion, in-class group assignments, hands-on activities and case studies. Lucas encourages students to apply lessons to their own lives to assess their own dietary habits and physical activity, which she hopes will impact their health long after they leave her class. “I am convinced that true learning is not simply a matter of memorizing facts, but understanding fundamental principles and being able to use these principles in everyday situations,” Lucas said.
Department Director Stephen Clarke said Lucas has a unique ability to take complex topics involving nutrient metabolism and make them applicable to students’ lives. Dr. Lucas played a critical role in reorganization of the department’s capstone nutrition course, which has dramatically improved student’s capacity to read and critically evaluate nutrition-related research.
“What I love most about Dr. Lucas is she always pushes us to reach higher, learn more, understand more and be more,” said undergraduate student Cole Dillman. “She does this in a way that is completely personalized to each student. She has the innate ability to push you just outside your comfort zone to promote expanded knowledge, yet ensuring to never push too hard as to cause regression.”
Lucas was also praised for her role as a research mentor to graduate students. She takes a hands-on approach to developing their skills related to scientific inquiry, communication and laboratory techniques. Dr. Lucas has been honored six times as her college’s outstanding graduate faculty mentor and has twice been honored with an OSU Regents Distinguished Teaching Award.