Biology professor Greg Pask is surrounded by his students outside McCardell Bicentennial Hall.
Biology professor Greg Pask with students outside McCardell Bicentennial Hall after winning the 2022 Perkins Award for Excellence in Teaching. (Photo: Brett Simison)

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Faculty, staff, and students honored Greg Pask, assistant professor of biology, with the Perkins Award for Excellence in Teaching at a ceremony in Bicentennial Hall on May 4. The annual award is presented alternately to a faculty member from mathematics or the sciences. 

Earlier this year, student majors and minors in the science departments were asked for nominations for the award. The winner was chosen by a selection committee. 

“The selection committee reviewed the letters and members were deeply impressed by the level of detail students provided to describe the myriad impacts our faculty have on students in the classroom, the research lab, and beyond,” said Associate Dean of Sciences Rick Bunt, who introduced Pask. “While all those nominated this year were worthy of recognition, this year’s awardee truly stood out.”

Pask, an insect neurobiologist, studies the powerful sense of smell insects use to locate food, find mates, and communicate with others. His research focuses on the chemical language of ants and the specific genes involved in detecting social cues.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Muhlenberg College, his PhD in biochemistry from Vanderbilt University, and completed postdoctoral work in entomology at the University of California, Riverside. Bunt noted that Pask combines all of his academic skills in his study of chemical signaling in insects—work that has earned support from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation. His research has resulted in 11 peer-reviewed publications.

Bunt pointed out that Pask, who arrived at Middlebury in 2020, wasted no time diving into the campus community. “Greg has already made quite a mark on students through his commitment and dedication to teaching excellence in the spirit of Professor Llewellyn Perkins.”

Students Benjamin Morris, Daphne Halley, and Aiden Masters each offered glowing remarks at the ceremony in support of Pask. The Perkins family was represented by Catherine Harris and Andrew Perkins on Zoom.

Created in 1993, the Perkins Award is provided by the Professor Llewellyn R. Perkins and Dr. Ruth M.H. Perkins Memorial Research Fund, and it was made possible by a gift from Ruth Perkins, Middlebury Class of 1932, in memory of her husband, Llewellyn, who taught at Middlebury from 1914 through 1941.

Their children, Marion Perkins Harris ’57, a science teacher, and David Perkins, a physician, augmented the fund and expanded the scope of the award to honor their mother, Ruth, as well as their father. The award supports the recipient’s faculty development. It is presented in even-numbered years to a member of the mathematics or computer science department, and in odd-numbered years to a faculty member who teaches in the natural sciences.