Michigan State University

Librarian Sara Miller Awarded Ronald W. Wilson Endowed Teaching Award

Katie Diamond


During the fall semester 2017, Librarian Sara Miller was awarded the 2017 Ronald W. Wilson Endowed Teaching Award. The award was formally announced at the MSU College of Natural Science faculty meeting in November 2017, and a reception was held afterwards to celebrate.

This honor is typically reserved for faculty who teach ISB, ISE, or ISP courses, but the Center for Integrative Studies in General Science (CISGS) wanted to express their appreciation and highlight all of the important work that Miller has done to incorporate information literacy into their lecture and lab courses.

Miller, along with MSU Librarians Eric Tans and Elizabeth Webster, created an online module for lab courses which presents topics related to scientific information literacy. The module explores scientific merit and reasoning and addresses how news coverage of a scientific study can often obscure the results of the original study.

Miller also presented as a guest lecturer in four ISB classes last semester. She worked with students on analyzing studies and articles related to antibiotic resistance and GMO foods through exercises and reflection questions. The class focused on types of persuasive and rhetorical arguments that are commonly encountered in popular media coverage of scientific topics. Students were encouraged to dig into information sources more deeply to analyze how, why, and by whom they were created as well as think about how confirmation bias influences decision making, causing people to overlook or ignore information that challenges their deeply-held beliefs.

As a result of Miller’s work with these classes, the students are better prepared to evaluate the dependability of a source in relationship to scientific merit. In this day and age, where seemingly anyone can publish about scientific topics with a wide range of approaches and intentions, proficiency in scientific information literacy has never been more important.


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