Students as Scientists

Michael Smith honored with teaching award

Michael Smith.Michael Smith poses for a portrait in his laboratory at the University of Missouri.

For Michael Smith, working at the University of Missouri is all about learning, which includes both teaching and research.

“Students are one of the main reasons we are here,” says the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources animal sciences professor. “And my whole philosophy with teaching is to treat students as animal scientists, not just as students taking an animal science class. I feel that if a student thinks of themselves as a practitioner of the discipline, then it really facilitates learning.”

That philosophy has been the foundation for his 33-year career at MU. Recently, Michael was recognized for his illustrious teaching tenure.

In July, the American Society of Animal Science awarded him the organization’s Fellow Award. The award is one of the highest recognitions given out by the professional association that serves more than 5,000 animal scientists and producers around the world.

“I am very honored to receive this award,” Michael says. “I also feel this award is a reflection of the quality of students and faculty that we have in the Division of Animal Science department. We have strong faculty that truly cares about student learnings.”

In addition to teaching, Michael and Animal Sciences Professor David Patterson developed a reproductive management internship program that has seen more than 100 students participate in since its conception 17 years ago. The program helps interns refine their skills before an internship starts.

“I view teaching as a partnership in which both the students and a faculty member have responsibilities,” adds Michael. “We are here to help them learn and if you show students you are willing to invest your time in their education, then they normally engage more. It’s also about having a passion for the subject matter and wanting to communicate that to students..”

For more information about the animal sciences at MU, visit