Bratcher honored for excellence in teaching and mentoring

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Associate Professor Christy Bratcher has earned a reputation for blending research and instruction in the classroom and beyond, all to the benefit of her students.

Wayne Greene, head of the Department of Animal Sciences in Auburn University’s College of Agriculture, said Bratcher has quickly become a “distinguished teacher at Auburn” for leading students in and out of the classroom.

“She accomplishes her teaching activities without taking away from her heavy research appointment,” he said. “In fact, she blends the two together to provide seamless programming. She utilizes her students to solve problems facing our industry by incorporating them into her strong research and outreach programming.”

Bratcher, who is also director of the Auburn University Food Systems Institute, was recently recognized with the 2018 Gerald and Emily Leischuck Endowed Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award is a university-wide honor that recognizes Auburn faculty who demonstrate a commitment to student success through innovative teaching and effective advising and who also excel in mentoring students inside and outside the classroom.

“Receiving this award is, without a doubt, one of the most meaningful honors I could have,” said Bratcher, who is in her 10th year at Auburn. “It is a great thing for faculty at Auburn to have donors like Dr. and Mrs. Leischuck, who felt so strongly about the excellence of teaching that they made this award possible.”

Bratcher has built a well-respected research and instructional program focused on meat science and food safety. Lauded for her enthusiastic instruction style by both students and colleagues, Bratcher is also noted for her engaging mentorship of students. She has developed a program that routinely involves animal science students in on-campus research and work with the Lambert-Powell Meat Labs and the food systems institute, entities that promote meat quality and food safety practices, respectively.

Bratcher extends her class curriculum beyond campus boundaries by facilitating external learning opportunities for her students through partnerships she has forged with industry, government, consumers and other universities.

“I feel that the classroom should not get in the way of learning,” she said of her teaching philosophy. “I am continually looking for new, innovative ideas to engage students and to excite them in their pursuit of their degree so that they have the desire to learn and investigate the answers.”

As an example of this external approach to instruction, Bratcher leads her students on an annual, week-long field trip through the Southeast to visit industries, universities and government agencies associated with meat science to expose them to how their in-class education is used in the working world. In addition, Bratcher accompanies students to industry conferences for workshops, hands-on learning and networking opportunities, and she conducts study abroad tours to France and Spain to introduce students to other cultures and their agricultural practices.

“She is taking her students to the people,” said Greene. “It is absolutely amazing to see the energy these students have garnered from Dr. Bratcher. These students are well-trained as they enter the workforce.”

Bratcher said she’s simply doing her job.

“As a teacher, it is my job to help cultivate the abilities of each student and help them develop those abilities,” she said. “The students are the reason that I keep doing what I do on a daily basis.”

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Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.