Dr. Lynell Gilbert-Saunders, an associate professor of chemistry at Missouri Southern, was the recipient of the 2018 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education.

The award is presented to an outstanding faculty member from each participating higher education institution in the state. A non-monetary recognition, it is based on effective teaching, effective advising, service to the university community, commitment to high standards of excellence and success in nurturing student achievement.

This spring, Gilbert-Saunders was one of 15 educators from Missouri colleges and universities invited to attend an awards reception at Lincoln University in Jefferson City. Gov. Mike Parson, then lieutenant governor, was on hand to welcome the recipients and speak about the importance of higher education.

“It made me proud that the faculty and students had so much confidence in my abilities,” said Gilbert-Saunders. “Teaching is about being able to mentor and communicate effectively with people who are trying to learn. This award validated that for me.”

Dr. Marsi Archer, dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, said Gilbert-Saunders’ combination of high standards and kindness to her students sets her apart.

“She truly wants her students to learn and she is able to gently guide and push them to competence in chemistry,” Archer said. “She relates chemical principles to everyday applications and uses great analogies to explain difficult concepts.”

Gilbert-Saunders received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Missouri Southern in 1998. She received her Ph.D. from Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, and was hired at Missouri Southern in 2006.

“It was like coming home again, but in a different way,” she said. “I feel like I’m able to carry on a tradition that was very special and influential to me.

“Dr. Larry Albright, who passed away earlier this year, was my chemistry teacher at Missouri Southern and one of my biggest mentors. I’m honored to be able to pass on the knowledge he gave me to the next generation of students.”