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Lamar University’s Dr. James Westgate receives the distinguished TSUS Regents Professor Award

James Westgate, professor emeritus of Earth and Space Sciences, has been awarded the Texas State University System Regents’ Professor Award that honors college professors for their outstanding professional excellence James Westgateand significant educational contributions on the international, national and communal levels.

“Jim’s record is one well-deserving the TSUS Regents’ Professor Award,” said Jim Jordan, chair and professor of Earth and Space Sciences in his letter of nomination for Westgate. “His concern for teaching courses, which are both demanding and relevant to his students’ lives, has been recognized with three LU Teaching Excellence Awards.”

Westgate received his Bachelor of Science in Geology from the College of William and Mary, his Master of Science in Geology from the University of Nebraska, his Master of Science in Biology from Southwest Missouri State University. He earned his Ph.D in Geology from the University of Texas at Austin.

Since coming to Lamar University in 1989, Westgate has been P.I. or co-P.I. for more than $1.7 million in science and education and research grants and garnered more than $1.2 million in grant monies aimed at providing scholarships and opportunities for teacher graduate students.

Westgate travels all over the world to accumulate and share new knowledge and discoveries. He has travelled to Yellowstone National Park, Mt. St. Helens, Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Chesapeake Bay, Louisiana, Hawaii, Panama, Florida and California to conduct research on the biology, geology and natural disasters of the areas. He has also presented that research at international conferences in Germany, Canada, Mexico and the 9th International Hands-On Science Conference in Turkey. He has presented paleontology workshops to middle schoolers in Israel and Palestine and brought his own students on paleontology expeditions in Mexico, Utah, Panama and the Gulf Coast.

“Science is the process of doing things whether it is research or doing things to learn how the world works,” said Westgate, who has been teaching for 30 years. “So, if I am not doing, I’m not being a scientist.”

With his knowledge of earth science, Westgate is able to teach other professors and students how to improve the environment.

“For 24 years, I led science teachers on local field trips so they could see first-hand what our local environmental issues are and how state and federal governments and local industries are trying to solve them,” said Westgate.

While at LU, Westgate has received the Minnie Stevens Piper Professor Award, Skoog Cup Award, Fellow Award, University Professor Award, University Scholar Award, Distinguished Faculty Lecturer Award, Teaching Excellence Award and the Faculty Development Leaves.

Westgate has served as president, vice-president and treasurer on the Board of Directors of the Texas Academy of Science.  He has also served or is currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Clean Air and Water Inc., Big Thicket Association, the Texas Energy Museum and the Project Scientist for the JASON Alliance for Southeast Texas. Westgate is also a strong advocate for community outreach, holding innovative outdoor teaching programs for families and children and is the primary organizer for the Texas Energy Museum’s Dinosaur Day.