April 25, 2022

Peltier Award recipients announced


Four outstanding faculty members have been selected to receive NDSU’s Peltier Award for Teaching Innovation. They include:

• Eric Gjerdevig, lecturer of management and marketing

• Trung “Tim” Le, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering

• Alexey Leontyev, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry

• Pinjing Zhao, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry

The recipients will be recognized by President Dean L. Bresciani and Provost Margaret Fitzgerald with a plaque at the annual NDSU Celebration of Faculty Excellence event scheduled for Tuesday, May 10, at 3 p.m. in the Memorial Union Ballroom.

“Through the Peltier Award, Professors Gjerdevig, Le, Leontyev and Zhao, are recognized for their significant contributions to teaching innovation and student success at NDSU,” said Vice Provost Canan Bilen-Green. “Their nominators noted their use of evidence-based innovative and experiential teaching practices; innovations extending beyond the classroom, from outreach to high school students to connecting students with professional opportunities and mentors; reaching and engaging students in spite of the pandemic challenge; and unique approach to teaching and learning.”

Honorees’ innovative teaching techniques have contributed to enhancing the educational experience of NDSU students. Recipients are selected by the Faculty Awards and Recognition Committee. 

The awards are sponsored by the NDSU Foundation.

Eric Gjerdevig

Gjerdevig, who focuses on personal selling and sales leadership, is a believer in experiential learning. His sales courses include a Cold Call Challenge, role plays, mock interviews and visits from business professionals from the community.

“Learning should not have to be confined to the four walls of the classrooms or the pages of a book,” Gjerdevig said. “My approach to teaching starts with recognizing the business I’m in – delivering a great learning opportunity to students. Students are paying to be in the room; my job is to serve them.”

Gjerdevig joined the NDSU College of Business faculty in 2018. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Minnesota State University Moorhead and his Master of Business Administration from the University of North Dakota. He also completed an executive education course at Northwestern Kellogg School of Management. In addition, he has attained numerous certifications at Great Plains Software, Microsoft and Summit Group Software.

Trung “Tim” Le

Le has introduced “small-teaching philosophy” in three of his courses. He describes the technique as Connection, Curiosity and Closed-Loop. He uses group discussions, student-led case studies, invited speakers and virtual tours, along with a role-based supply game, data challenge competition and a group project. In addition, he implemented a pocket survey and end-of-semester evaluation.

My teaching philosophy is driven by the student-centered teaching and learning,” Le said, noting he uses the approach proposed by James M. Lang. “to maximize student learning outcomes, I have integrated the small teaching techniques with up-to-date information and computing technologies. This includes interactive virtual simulation learning and game-based assessment for teaching and learning adapted for both in-person and Hyflex teaching modalities.”

Le joined the NDSU faculty in 2018. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Ho Chi Minh University of Technology, Vietnam, and his doctorate in industrial engineering and management at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater.

Alexey Leontyev

During the COVID pandemic, Leontyev used Flipgrid software to create instructional videos to promote awareness of green chemistry. Students also used Flipgrid, Perusall, FeedbackFruits Peer Review, Google Jamboard and chemical drawing software to create infographics on the subject. In addition, students uploaded anonymous feedback using Libretext.

“I plan to continue implementing active learning techniques,” Leontyev said. “My goal is to refine their implementation to improve their effectiveness further. In addition, I plan to continue to expand and diversify the repertoire of active learning instructional techniques.”

Leontyev joined the NDSU faculty in 2018. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Higher Chemical College, Moscow, Russa, master’s degree in organic chemistry from Bowling Green State University, Ohio, and doctorate in chemical education at the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley.

Pinjing Zhao

Zhao focuses on curriculum development that promotes student-instructor communication, stimulates student interest and enhances synergy between teaching and research.

“I strive to achieve a high level of student-instructor mutual understanding by means of regular classroom discussions, midterm surveys and online communications,” Zhao said. “These channels enable me to obtain student feedback, identify possible problems and make active adjustments. Secondly, I installed various classroom activities and course projects to encourage student participation in active learning. Students also are provided with additional learning opportunities to meet individual needs via flexible office hours, online access to full-scope class materials, weekly supplementary instruction sessions and evening review sessions for exams.”

Zhao joined the NDSU faculty in 2007. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Peking University, Beijing, China, and doctorate in chemistry from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. He was a postdoctoral research associate at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, and the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.


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