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CONTACT: Susie P. Gonzalez

May 22, 2008



Trinity University Biology Professor Wins Teaching Fellowship


David O. Ribble

SAN ANTONIO – David O. Ribble, professor and chair of biology at Trinity University, has been named the 2008 recipient of the Dr. and Mrs. Z.T. Scott Faculty Fellowship in recognition of his outstanding abilities as a teacher and adviser.


The Z.T. Scott Fellowship, given annually for excellence in teaching and advising, includes a $5,000 cash award as well as $3,000 to be used for professional development and research. Trinity University Trustee Richard M. Kleberg III established the Fellowship in 1984 in honor of his grandparents, Dr. and Mrs. Z.T. Scott.


Professor Ribble came to Trinity in 1992 and has served as chair of the biology department since 2001. While directing a program on development in Africa in 2006, he was invited to join an expedition of researchers in Tanzania to document photographs taken previously of the region’s forest mammals. Ultimately, the team discovered a rare and new species of elephant-shrews, also known as the grey-faced sengi. The news was announced in the Feb. 4 issue of The Journal of Zoology.


In his teaching methods, Professor Ribble strives to foster a sense of awe about nature. His courses are structured to give students an appreciation for diversity within the biological sciences, and he uses ecology and evolution as examples.


A colleague in the biology department described Professor Ribble as “a classic teacher-scholar, the sort of faculty member who ‘gets it’ from the most fundamental levels to the detailed nuances of the profession. We are lucky to have him at our institution.”


Former students praised Professor Ribble as a key influence in their own pursuit of academic careers and said his teaching style was defined by “guided lecture and self discovery.” He remained a nurturing mentor and showed sincere interest in the intellectual and personal success of each student, while pushing them to work hard while learning theory and concepts instead of rote memorization. Another student called him a “rock star” for his work in the discovery of the new species of gray-faced sengi.


His teaching philosophy extends beyond Trinity as he has been active in the greater San Antonio community working with conservation groups and local parks to help conserve their resources and educate the public about the importance of such resources. He has trained adults in ecology and mammalogy as part of the San Antonio Master Naturalist program and has led outdoor science field trips for students at Bonham Elementary, an inner-city public school, including visits to Mitchell Lake Wetlands to trap small mammals for students to observe.  


He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Trinity University and holds a master’s degree in wildlife biology from Colorado State University and a doctoral degree from the University of California, Berkeley.


Trinity University, founded in 1869, is one of the nation’s top private undergraduate institutions. Noted for its superior academic quality, outstanding faculty, and exceptional academic and residential resources, Trinity is committed to the intellectual, civic, and professional preparation of its students.



© 2008 Trinity University

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