Aaron Cassill, professor of biology in the UTSA College of Sciences, is one of 10 faculty members in Texas to be selected to receive a Piper Professor Award
for his dedication to the teaching profession and for outstanding academic, scientific and scholarly achievement.
Established in 1958 by the San Antonio–based Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation, the Piper Professor Award was created to annually recognize outstanding college professors across Texas. Cassill is the ninth UTSA faculty member to receive the award; last year John Miller Morris, professor of geography in the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, received the award.
Since Cassill joined UTSA in 1993, his biology course offerings in the College of Sciences have been among the most popular on campus, sparking questions from curious students and inspiring them to think outside the box.
“A lot of what I try to do is make it clear to students that the science they’re studying actually affects them in very important ways every day—and that it’s actually really cool,” said Cassill. “I want them to understand that there’s no such thing as a known fact; everything is fluid. In a lot of ways, I want them to distrust knowledge, trust themselves and learn to think and rethink everything I tell them and see whether I was right or not.”
Cassill has participated in numerous education conferences, mentored several colleagues across disciplines on curriculum and course development, and is constantly pushing himself to innovate and experiment with his own craft.
His list of accolades include receiving the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award from the University of Texas System in 2012, and being inducted into the UTSA Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars.
“Aaron Cassill has a reputation across the university for his strong commitment to student success, both as an instructor and as a mentor,” said John Frederick, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We are thrilled to see him recognized, and especially to have members of our faculty recognized by the Piper Foundation for two consecutive years. I believe that is a strong testament to the excellence of our entire faculty.”
Cassill directs the STEM Initiative for the College of Sciences and also serves as associate director of the Minority Access to Research Careers and the Minority Biomedical Research Support programs.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Harvard University and his doctoral degree in biology from the University of California, San Diego.
The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is an emerging Tier One research institution specializing in health, energy, security, sustainability, and human and social development. With nearly 31,000 students, it is the largest university in the San Antonio metropolitan region. UTSA advances knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. The university embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property – for Texas, the nation and the world.