Oregon State University’s Melanie Link-Pérez has been awarded the highest honor for excellence in teaching by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists.

Link-Pérez is the recipient of the society’s 2018 Engagement and Excellence in Plant Systematics Education Award, which recognizes educators who have implemented and developed innovative methods for engaging students in the study of plant systematics in the classroom or laboratory, or during outreach activities.

Link-Pérez is an instructor and serves as herbarium curator for the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology in the College of Agricultural Sciences. She has developed an innovative use of art and science in the course “Plant Structure,” which encourages students to illustrate and document anatomical and morphological features of plants in order to highlight their evolutionary relationships and histories. During the course, students contribute blogs documenting their experiences in the class and the many structures that they encounter.

Link-Pérez maintains the YouTube channel Beyond the Bean Seed where she demonstrates lab techniques, such as how to do hand cross sections, and introduces viewers to important topics in plant anatomy. Her use of technology to disseminate information and increase knowledge retention is further highlighted by the use of iNaturalist in the classroom for Flora of the Pacific Northwest, a course which she revamped.

Her enthusiasm for botany will now be shared with non-botany majors in the upcoming course “Plants and Humanity,” which will introduce students to the importance of plants to humans and help alleviate the growing ailment that is plant blindness.

In addition to her teaching and service, Link-Pérez provides the community with informative workshops such as “Tips, Tricks, and Tech,” a Master Gardener course introducing participants to nomenclature, plant identification, as well as iNaturalist and the Oregon Flora apps.