Excellence in Education


Nutrition lecturer Liz Applegate honored for innovative teaching

UC Davis lecturer Liz Applegate, a nationally renowned expert on nutrition and fitness, has received a teaching award from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) at the organization’s annual meeting in November in Austin, Texas.

She was among six regional recipients of the 2016 Excellence in College and University Teaching Awards for Food and Agricultural Sciences. The awards celebrate university faculty for their use of innovative teaching methods and service to students. In recognition of their scholarship, exemplary pedagogy, and dedication to instruction, the regional awards include a stipend to be used for improving teaching.

“Educators play a central role in helping students realize their full potential,” said APLU’s Ian Maw, vice president of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources. “This year’s winners have demonstrated an uncompromising commitment to their students and the community they serve, and we’re delighted to spotlight their exceptional work in agricultural sciences.”

Applegate, a distinguished senior lecturer in the Department of Nutrition and the director of Sports Nutrition at UC Davis, motivates students to value the importance of healthy eating—as well as exercise—for optimal health. She is well known for her enthusiasm, compassion, and informal style in her undergraduate Nutrition 10 class, which has drawn more than 2,500 students annually for 31 years. She has taught the class to more than 60,000 students from 1985 until her last lecture in June of this year at which she received a touching tribute.

Instead of continuing to teach the course every quarter, Applegate has been developing a fully online Nutrition 10 course for use at all University of California campuses. “This will allow thousands more students, particularly international and non-native speakers, to enjoy a mode of learning well suited for today’s learning environment,” she said.

Applegate arrived at UC Davis as an undergraduate studying biochemistry in 1974. After she received her Ph.D. in the 1980s, she stayed on to teach. She has since received the Excellence in Education Award, the Excellence in Teaching Award, Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award, the Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award from the University of California, and the 2016 United States Department of Agriculture Food and Agriculture Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award.

“My teaching philosophy embraces critical thinking, along with making nutrition science personally applicable and actionable,” she said. “I’ve worked hard to create an inviting classroom for students—both face-to-face and online.”

Applegate takes the same approach in assisting more than 600 student athletes every year to help them meet their goals through optimal eating. She also devotes time to many community groups, students clubs, and local groups, including Team Davis, a group of developmentally disabled teens and adults with nutrition education garden-classroom programs.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is a research, policy, and advocacy organization representing 236 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations. Founded in 1887, APLU is North America's oldest higher education association with member institutions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, Canada, and Mexico.