Keith Tarvin Earns Excellence in Teaching Award

A scholar in the fields of evolution, behavioral ecology, ornithology, and organismal biology, Tarvin was honored for his approach to teaching and mentoring undergraduate researchers. 

May 18, 2023

Communications Staff

Keith Tarvin.
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones '97

Oberlin College and Conservatory has recognized six faculty members with Excellence in Teaching Awards for the 2021-22 academic year. The annual Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes faculty in the college and conservatory who have demonstrated sustained and distinctive excellence in their teaching at the college and conservatory.

Professor Emeritus of Biology Keith Tarvin came to Oberlin in 2000 as a visiting assistant professor. He was hired as a tenure track faculty member in July 2001 and became a full professor in 2014. At Oberlin, he taught 11 lecture and discussion courses and four different lab courses in the fields of evolution, behavioral ecology, ornithology, and organismal biology.

Throughout his career, Tarvin mentored 89 individual undergraduate research students (including 11 honors students) spanning 230 student-semesters, student-summers, or mentored student-winter term projects since fall 2000. These projects included field and laboratory studies of goldfinches, mockingbirds, tree swallows, snakes, squirrels, fish, salamanders, dolphins, and ants, as well as theoretical projects and preparation of bird specimens.

“Throughout his career, Professor Keith Tarvin has instilled in his students a profound scientific sense of wonder through brilliant lecturing and mentoring of undergraduate researchers in biology,” says David Kamitsuka, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The number of undergraduate student co-authors on Keith’s important peer reviewed publications would fill a classroom in our Science Center.”

Tarvin was a mentor for junior faculty and served on a host of elected and volunteer committees related to faculty governance, undergraduate research, and curriculum.

“Teaching at Oberlin demands constant re-evaluation and reinvention, which makes it both scarily challenging and wonderfully stimulating,” says Tarvin. “To my great benefit, many colleagues have graciously shared pedagogical ideas, approaches, and strategies with me over the years. Being recognized at an institution bursting with so many amazing teachers is truly an honor.”

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