2020 Graduate Student Teaching Award Recipient: Cole Gross

UAlberta Faculty of Graduate Research and Studies Teaching Assistant Award Recipient Cole Gross

Cole Gross, from the USA, is one of the Faculty of Graduate Research and Studies, Teaching Assistant Award recipients for 2020. He is a PhD candidate in Renewable Resources.

Why did you choose this area of study?
I chose to study soil because it's right beneath our feet but still pretty mysterious to us. It's never boring because it includes life, death, minerals, water, and atmosphere. It's nature's recycler!

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I would like to return to the Pacific Northwest and continue researching, teaching, and learning all about "dirt."

Who are three of your heroes (living or historical) and why?
I can't say that I've ever had a hero. I think many people have admirable qualities. I try to learn from the people in my life and to change and grow as a person. The qualities I admire most in others are those whose actions show care and compassion for others and those who use self-reflection to become better versions of themselves. My parents and my partner exemplify these qualities.

UAlberta Faculty of Graduate Research and Studies Teaching Assistant Award Recipient Cole GrossWhat do you consider the most overrated virtue?
It seems that guilt is often treated as a "virtue." Guilt is overrated because, even if it leads to good actions, it's a negative motivator. Positive motivators are more effective and less detrimental to the given individual.

Name a book that you would assign as recommended reading to students?
"The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupery or "The Missing Piece Meets the Big O" by Shel Silverstein. Both books share simple yet important messages about life which require deep thought and self-reflection. Then I would recommend a bunch of soil books because SOIL is AWESOME!

What skill would you consider to be most essential for humanity?
Adaptability and compassion. We need to be able to change and adapt to new situations and problems and we need compassion to respond appropriately and work together for a better world. We need the ability both to keep moving and to stand still.

Who or what on campus has made an impact on your UAlberta success?
I was excited and impressed by the Graduate Teaching and Learning Program. It was a great way to connect with others who love teaching and to sharpen my teaching skills. The sense of community and support from academic and non-academic staff and from my colleagues and friends is also very encouraging and important to me. Finally, opportunities to teach, learn, research and receive grants/scholarships/awards make all the difference!