Nevada State College Professor uses research to engage students

Henderson, Nev. Nevada State College associate professor Paul Buck took a position at the college in 2002 with the hope of engaging students in research and using hands-on experiences to help prepare Nevada’s future teachers.
With 20 years of teaching and research experience, Buck has been published in the journal Nature, spent years surveying and excavating in Egypt and has been awarded more than $3 million in grants and contracts through the Desert Research Institute for research, education and service projects.
Buck is an associate professor of anthropology and archaeology at Nevada State College. He has made it a goal to create a closer collaboration between research and the school of education in order to better prepare teachers, especially in science.
Nevada State College is small and new. The real reason I came to NSC was because of the opportunity to do something new and different, Buck said.
Focusing on his belief that more has to be done in order to retain undergraduate students, Buck has modeled his teaching methods around learning from research, others experiences and community involvement. He also believes a key to student retention is a solid first year experience model.
I want to be able to help create that model, Buck said. I want to help students want to learn.
Buck moved with his wife and son from Seattle to Nevada in 1991. He put much of his effort into the Desert Research Institute and researching the prehistoric Anasazi of Northwest Arizona. He began teaching at the college in 2002 and was offered tenure in August 2005.
Buck believes that having an understanding of the past and where humans came from is the best way to understand the present and future. His keen interest and vast education in archaeology supports this belief.
I don’t think any student should be able to graduate from college without having a good grasp on who we are and where we come from, he said. How else will we know exactly where we’re going?
Buck teaches in all his classes the importance of living within a community and understanding what it means to be a good citizen. He teaches respect for diverse backgrounds, the value of volunteerism and the importance of awareness. His lessons mirror the values of Nevada State College.
One of my main goals is to make material in my course relevant to students lives, Buck said. Students live in a community, and in order to be good citizens they must have some knowledge of how others perceive them. They should not take for granted what they hear and read and see.
Buck’s extensive background includes a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Washington and teaching courses at UNLV, University of Washington and teaching an annual summer class in field archaeology near the Grand Canyon in Arizona for high school students, college undergraduates and interested non-students
Buck has been published in the journal Nature, Journal of Archaeological Science and Journal of Geoscience Education.
A believer of practicing what you preach, Buck directs the Increasing Diversity in Science in Nevada program, whose goal is to get more Hispanic, African American, Native American, girls and other underrepresented students eligible for admission to math and science programs in the NSHE. He is also the leader of NSC’s portion of the new NSHE National Science Foundation climate change infrastructure award, where he is collaborating with School of Education faculty to improve middle school science teacher’s understanding of climate change science. Buck is also a member of several committees at Nevada State College, the Desert Research Institute, Nevada System of Higher Education, and is a board member for Gathering Genius, Inc. and non-profit organization hosting the 2009 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Reno.
Buck is a member of the Society for American Archaeology, Register of Professional Archaeologists, Archaeological Institute of America, National Science Teachers Association and Nevada State Science Teachers Association.
Nevada State College is a comprehensive four-year public college offering degrees including nursing, business administration and education. The college opened its doors to students in September 2002 after the Board of Regents and the Nevada State Legislature determined the need for enhanced educational opportunities in Southern Nevada in 1997.
NSC’s main campus is located on more than 500 acres in the foothills of Henderson and provides progressive bachelor’s programs in several in-demand fields of study. Nevada State College offers a low student-to-professor ratio and competitive tuition rates.
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