Skip to main content Skip to footer

April 13, 2023

SVSU biology professor named Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year

Arthur Martin is one of three recognized by Michigan Association of State Universities

Man in wet suit holding SCUBA regulator

A Saginaw Valley State University professor has earned statewide acclaim for his exemplary teaching and research. Art Martin, professor of biology, has received the Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year award from the Michigan Association of State Universities. The award recognizes the outstanding contributions and dedication exhibited by the faculty from Michigan’s 15 public universities to the education of undergraduate students. He is one of three professors in the state to receive the honor.   

“Dr. Arthur Martin exemplifies the qualities that make a professor stand out from their peers,” said Dr. Daniel J. Hurley, CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities. “His dedication to undergraduate instruction and efforts to deeply engage and empower students in important research projects are ample evidence of his commitment and leadership.” 

“I was shocked to hear about this great honor,” Martin said. “There are so many great faculty at SVSU and across the state who put their heart and soul into providing students with unique and empowering educational experiences. I am very proud of the successes of all of my students during my time as an educator. I am very appreciative to have been awarded this honor, and I will continue to work diligently with my colleagues to find new and creative ways to inspire future generations of students and biologists.” 

Martin joined the SVSU faculty in 2008. He incorporates experiential learning in his teaching by taking the SVSU mobile lab into underserved communities to work with youth or taking undergraduate students to the Cayman Islands to learn about reef biology. Each year, he takes undergraduate students to national and international academic conferences and has received many grants supporting undergraduate research. 

Martin took the lead on a six-year process of curriculum development that led to major improvements to the biology curriculum for all students. While he was the department chair, Martin instituted a new assessment system that obtains annual data on undergraduate learning. He also developed a required seminar when he saw gaps in student preparation for post-graduation employment. He has also created several other lower division undergraduate courses that promote writing and presentation skills development. 

“Not only is Dr. Martin a committed teacher of undergraduate students, he also is a leader in his field helping bridge curriculum and practical field experience for students,” said Deborah R. Huntley, SVSU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “His dedication to both working individually with students and engaging them in the scientific process, as well as developing and innovating curriculum that impacts many more students, truly makes him deserving of recognition as the Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year.” 

In addition to his award-winning teaching in the classroom, Martin has mentored 30 undergraduate students in his career at SVSU so far. Many of these students are professionals in biology-related careers and have earned advanced degrees: five doctorates, four master’s degrees, four medical degrees and three degrees in veterinary medicine. The others are in post-bachelor’s programs. As a mentor, Martin has helped the students develop, implement and analyze biological research and the presentation of their research at national conferences such as the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology and regional conferences such as the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters. He has also co-led the development of student gathering events that promote student interactions. 

In 2021 Martin received SVSU’s most prestigious teaching award, the Franc A. Landee Teaching Excellence Award. He has received grant funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Bay Watershed Education and Training Program, the Kawkawlin River Watershed Association and a subgrant from the National Science Foundation. Within the community, he has shown leadership and dedication through the Saginaw Bay Environmental Science Institute that has engaged undergraduate students, high school teachers and students, and community members in important scientific research. 

Martin earned his Bachelor of Science in biology from Siena Heights University and his Ph.D. in biological sciences from Bowling Green State University. 

The two other 2023 recipients include Dr. Anna Spagnuolo of Oakland University and Dr. Amy Cohn of University of Michigan. 

About MASU

The Michigan Association of State Universities serves as the coordinating board for Michigan’s 15 public universities, providing advocacy and fostering policy to maximize the collective value these institutions provide in serving the public interest and the State of Michigan. More information at