For his outstanding work as a teacher and scholar in the University of Oklahoma College of Arts and Sciences, Ben Holt III recently received the 2017 Kinney-Sugg Outstanding Professor Award.
Holt is an associate professor of plant biology, focusing on molecular, cellular, developmental and evolutionary biology. He also is a mentor to his undergraduate and graduate students, many of whom have gone on to success in graduate school, medical school and beyond.
In support of Holt’s nomination, former student Jesse Coker wrote, “Dr. Holt believes that information discovered is remembered better than information given, and this approach is unique when compared to all the classes I took at OU. Dr. Holt believes in his student’s ability, and he has a subtle and intentional way of extracting excellence from his pupils.”
Holt joined the OU faculty in 2006, following his post-doctoral studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to his OU duties, from 2014 to 2016 he served as plant, fungal and microbial development and evolution of development program director for the National Science Foundation Developmental Systems Cluster.
His research focuses on how plants function while they are flowering and how they respond to hormones. His work has been published in Plant Physiology, Plant Journal and The Plant Cell.
Holt recently was named a Notable Alumni of Ohio University, where he earned his master’s degree in plant biology. Holt also received the OU President’s Distinguished Undergraduate Mentoring Program’s Outstanding Faculty Mentor and the University of North Carolina’s Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor Award. He currently serves as principal investigator for three NSF grants totaling nearly $1.9 million.
The Kinney-Sugg Outstanding Professor Award, established by OU alumna Sandy Kinney and her husband, Mike Sugg, was first awarded in 2002 to help the college reward and retain outstanding professors. As the 2017 outstanding professor of the college, Holt will receive a plaque and a check for $5,500 and his name will be added to a plaque on permanent display in Ellison Hall, home to the College of Arts and Sciences.