Barnard Named 2024 Outstanding Faculty

Alexandra Barnard holding the NPC outstanding faculty award

National Park College (NPC) named Dr. Alexandra Barnard as the 2024 Outstanding Faculty Member during the annual Employee Recognition Day celebration this month. Recipients of this award are nominated and selected by their peers.  

Barnard, an esteemed educator in biology, currently instructs both introductory and non-majors biology courses. She also imparts knowledge in upper-division classes such as genetics and ecology, contributing significantly to NPC’s Biology Pre-Health degree partnership with Southern Arkansas University (SAU), where she serves as a faculty mentor.

Barnard’s commitment to sustainability is evident in her role as the outgoing chair of the Recycling and Sustainability Committee, a position she has held for two years, and as the faculty advisor for the student-led Sustainability Club. She also serves co-advisor for the campus chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society.

Originally from Colorado, Barnard’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Colorado State University and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Metropolitan State University of Denver. She earned her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Oklahoma in 2018, focusing her research on speciation using damselflies as a model system.

Post-graduation, Barnard conducted postdoctoral research on Lesser Prairie Chicken ecology with the Oklahoma Biological Survey and briefly taught at Oklahoma City Community College. Although initially aspiring to be a researcher, she discovered a passion for teaching during her graduate studies.

Barnard’s philosophy is to weave her love of learning, service, and appreciation for the planet into her work. She actively integrates service-learning and research opportunities into her courses, promoting NPC’s presence in the broader community. Her efforts have been recognized by the Arkansas Recycling Coalition with an award for the College’s green initiatives, and she has shared her expertise on dragonflies and damselflies with local chapters of the Arkansas Master Naturalists and the Audubon Society.

Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Chuck Argo said, “Recognizing the Outstanding Faculty of the Year is more than a ceremonial act. It is a reaffirmation of our commitment to academic excellence. Dr. Barnard not only embodies the highest standards of teaching and scholarship, but also ignites the spark of curiosity and the passion for learning in our students. Her dedication to fostering an environment of inquiry and innovation is what truly makes our academic community thrive.”  

Reflecting on the recognition, Barnard said, “It’s an honor to be acknowledged among many inspiring faculty members whose work greatly benefits our students.” She looks forward to fostering more undergraduate research through projects like the pollinator garden and campus bluebird boxes, envisioning these initiatives as resources for all, from art to soil science enthusiasts.

Expressing gratitude, Barnard added, “Thank you for noticing my contributions and thank you for believing in me. I wouldn’t have been able to do what I’ve done if NPC weren’t such a supportive environment where I feel free to pursue projects that inspire me.”