CLEMSON — Michael Padilla, Clemson University education professor and director of the Eugene T. Moore School of Education, was honored by the National Science Teachers Association with its top award.

Padilla received the Robert Carleton Award, which recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to and provided leadership in science education at the national level and to the National Science Teachers Association in particular. He received the award at the Teacher Awards Program at the association’s 60th National Conference on Science Education last month in Indianapolis.

Padilla is well known for his leadership in and dedication to science education. In his career he has promoted vital science and teacher education initiatives by obtaining grants, ultimately attracting $36 million in highly competitive external funds. All of the grants addressed critical areas of need in science, mathematics and teacher education involving collaboration among K–12 teachers, faculty from colleges and universities and business interests.

“This is an outstanding recognition of Dr. Padilla's long record of significant work in science education,” said Larry Allen, dean of Clemson’s College of Health, Education and Human Development. “His research and writings have truly been instrumental in transforming science education in the United States as well as worldwide. His passion for advancing science education is unsurpassed.” 

Padilla received a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Detroit in 1967, a Master of Education from Wayne State University in 1972 and a Ph.D. in science education from Michigan State in 1975.

After college, Padilla worked for two years in the business world before transitioning to a career as a science educator. He began teaching in a high-minority, underserved school bordering Detroit’s automobile plants and his experiences working with this population influenced his future endeavors as an educator.

After becoming a university professor in Canada, he moved to the University of Georgia, where was an associate dean and director of the School of Teacher Education. He has written more than 250 articles, books, chapters and papers.

Padilla was president of the National Science Teachers Association in 2005. He previously received the National Science Teachers Association Distinguished Service to Science Education Award.