Luca Pozzi: Embracing diversity and new technologies to ensure student success
Luca Pozzi’s passion for innovative and inclusive teaching helps his students thrive and encourages them to develop their learning both in and outside the classroom. His exceptional teaching and dedication to UTSA students have earned him the prestigious 2021 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award.
"I am extremely honored to receive this prestigious award. To be recognized is an honor itself, but knowing the award arises from the support of my peers and my students makes it really special," said Pozzi, an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology.
“I genuinely love teaching students and being recognized after such a difficult year during which we all have worked so hard to provide the best possible learning environment even in the online setting, it is a wonderful feeling. It also reinforces my commitment to the work I have done (and will keep doing) to become a better teacher.”
Pozzi cares deeply about his students’ success and strives to ensure his students feel valued and welcomed in his classroom. He believes, by prioritizing diversity and inclusivity, his students feel comfortable sharing their opinions, allowing for more enriching class discussions and deeper connections with the course material.
To help his students build a solid foundation in science, Pozzi has them make connections with their everyday lives through interactive and engaging classroom assignments. In his class, The Promise and Pitfalls of Personal Genomics, for example, students are able to deconstruct Pozzi’s 23&Me genetic ancestry report, gaining a greater sense of the misunderstandings about ancestry and heredity.
When UTSA moved classes to an online format in the spring of 2020, Pozzi became the anthropology department’s faculty champion. He helped other faculty successfully transition to an online classroom format and shared new methods of engaging online instruction.
Pozzi also used his students’ feedback to adapt his classes to better suit their needs. He streamlined his Blackboard learning modules to be clear and concise, and adapted his inclusive teaching philosophy to an online format, increasing student engagement.
"Dr. Pozzi is the model faculty member and one of UT System's rising stars, both in teaching and research."
“He is constantly assessing and improving his teaching, utilizing a suite of learning tools, creating an inclusive classroom, advancing experiential learning, and he cares deeply about student outcomes,” said Sean Kelly, dean of the Honors College who was serving as interim dean for the College of Liberal and Fine Arts at the time of Pozzi’s nomination.
Pozzi also regularly takes advantage of professional development to improve his teaching methods. Over the past year he completed both the Quality Matters and ACUE teaching certificate course opportunities afforded through Academic Affairs, and implemented what he learned directly into his classes.
Adrian Melendez, a student of Pozzi’s during the spring 2020 semester, recognizes Pozzi’s skillful transition to teaching online.
“Dr. Pozzi continually tweaked the new online learning environment to become more and more effective, from adding additional resources to restructuring Blackboard and his assignments to minimize student confusion. This exemplifies Dr. Pozzi’s consistent effort to improve his teaching and learning environment,” said Melendez.
Another former student, Kayla Pringle, was encouraged by Pozzi to apply to an internship from the American Museum of Natural History in the summer of 2020. When she received the internship and was told it would be online, Pringle was apprehensive about her success.
“I do not think I would have been quite as successful without having Dr. Pozzi on my mentor team,” said Pringle. “I grew up thinking that I could never be a scientist because I was not smart enough, and I never thought I would ever learn how to code. With the help of Dr. Pozzi, I was accomplishing things I never thought I would know how to do.”
Pozzi received his Ph.D. in biological anthropology from New York University in 2013 before joining UTSA in 2016. In 2020, he received both the President’s Distinguished Achievement Award for Core Curriculum Teaching and COLFA Researcher of the Year award.
The University of Texas System Board of Regents established the annual Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards program in 2008 to honor extraordinary classroom performance and innovation. Each recipient receives a certificate, a medallion and $25,000 in appreciation of their impact on students and their institutions.
Visit the Faculty Awards website to learn more about this and other recognition opportunities.