Bonnie Dixon Receives Provost’s Excellence in Teaching Award for Professional Track Faculty

Dixon was recognized for her impact in curriculum development, medical school application support and student mentorship.


When a new version of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) launched in 2015 to include medical advancements since the test’s last update in 1991, pre-med students across the country felt daunted. The overhauled version of the test was completely different from prior versions, making it extremely difficult to study for.

Bonnie Dixon
Bonnie Dixon. Image courtesy of same

Bonnie Dixon, a principal lecturer in the University of Maryland’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, was determined to help her students tackle this challenge—even if it meant taking the grueling seven-hour exam herself. 

“I was part of a committee that personally took this new MCAT so we could accurately speak to how this version was different from the old one,” Dixon recalled. “Our experience led to the creation of a new course at UMD that focused on helping students prepare for the new MCAT. We wanted our students to have the best possible tools and knowledge to take it on.” 

That commitment to supporting students is reflected throughout Dixon’s nearly 20 years of teaching, curriculum development and mentorship at UMD. For her exceptional contributions, she received a 2024 Provost’s Excellence Award for Professional Track Faculty (PTK) in teaching.

“It’s lovely to be recognized for my work and to see PTK faculty receive recognition for their efforts as well,” Dixon said. “This award underscores how many people feel that we’re doing our jobs well and furthering the university’s mission, which is to support and teach our students so that they can thrive. It means a lot to me.”

Since joining UMD in 2005, Dixon has taken a personalized approach to supporting students in her courses, which span from basic general chemistry to advanced organic chemistry. In addition to her open office hours, Dixon also hosts weekly “Chemistry at Night” sessions, where she reviews questions and works with students on problem-solving over Zoom. Dixon’s unique insight into student needs and concerns allows her to tailor student learning experiences based on what they bring to the classroom, helping her students smoothly progress through their studies.

“Bonnie is an outstanding educator with deep content knowledge of the chemistry of living processes. Her commitment to student success is inspiring, and her accessibility and innovations—particularly in peer-to-peer mentoring and office-hour formats—have benefited tens of thousands of UMD students,” said Janice Reutt-Robey, chair of UMD’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “I am so pleased to see her recognized with this award.”

Dixon’s passion for student support extends well beyond the classroom. Looking back at the years she spent as a mentor and advisor, Dixon estimates that she writes an average of 70 letters of recommendation per year for students applying to medical or graduate school. Her office is also a vibrant hub where students gather for guidance and advice, and Dixon keeps in touch with many former students who keep her in the loop with updates on their achievements and milestones after graduation.

Meme Wall
A ‘meme wall’ created by Dixon’s students near her office. Image courtesy of same.

“Bonnie was my organic chemistry and biochemistry professor while I was at UMD, but I consider her as family now,” said Darby Moore (B.S. ’20, biological sciences; B.S. ’20, kinesiology), who is now a fourth-year student at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Moore explained that Dixon encouraged her to apply to medical school even as she struggled to balance her career aspirations with her obligations as a student athlete on UMD’s women’s soccer team. For Moore, Dixon’s tireless guidance played an essential role in helping her achieve her goals and find a path to success. Moore will soon begin her residency training in anesthesiology at Johns Hopkins.

“My MCAT score wasn’t great and I initially felt defeated,” Moore recalled. “But Bonnie rebuilt my confidence to take the exam again. As a teacher, she’s phenomenal because she finds that perfect balance of challenge and support with each of her students and goes above and beyond to help us reach our goals. She’s my closest advocate and I know that many others can say the same. Her office door is always open.”

Dixon sees her Provost’s Excellence award as both an acknowledgement of her hard work and a reminder that her dedication has profoundly impacted generations of students. In the coming years, she hopes to keep supporting new students throughout their time at UMD and beyond.

“I’m looking forward to next year, taking a whole new pile of students and marching them forward,” Dixon said. “I love my job, I love teaching, I love being in the classroom. It has not gotten old. I’ll keep finding ways to connect students and make them feel that they’re capable of achieving anything they put their minds to.”


Media Relations Contact

Georgia Jiang