The American Association of Anatomists’ 2005 Basmajian/Williams & Wilkins Award will be presented this month to Robert Spears, Ph.D., at the Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego. Spears is assistant professor of biomedical sciences at The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center’s Baylor College of Dentistry (BCD) in Dallas. The award recognizes health science faculty members who are in the formative stages of their careers, teach human or veterinary gross anatomy and can document excellence in contributing to that vocation, and have outstanding accomplishments in biomedical research or scholarship in education.
Among his achievements on the teaching front, Spears was promoted to the position of gross anatomy course director in 1996, prior to receiving his Ph.D. in 2002. This appointment recognized not only his teaching ability, but also his innovative approach of creating a hybrid course that combined classical training with problem-based learning. In 1997, he was named BCD’s Alumni Association Teacher of the Year. As nominator and fellow BCD faculty member Lynne Opperman, Ph.D., notes, Spears is more than an exceptional educator he is also a mentor, guide, den mother and advisor for some 85 to 90 first-year students each year. He serves as the Faculty Advisor for Student Research at BCD and as one of only two Faculty Advisors to the American Association of Dental Research’s National Student Research Group.
According to David Carlson, Ph.D., former department chair and now A&M Health Science Center vice president for research and graduate studies, Spears is “unusually talented at mentoring students in research and inspiring them to excel in more than simply memorizing anatomical details.”
The American Association of Anatomists, based in Bethesda, Maryland, is the professional organization for biomedical researchers and educators focusing on anatomical form and function.

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