USC taps marine scientist as top professor

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A marine scientist renowned among students for learning their names and making science approachable has been named as the University of South Carolina's professor of the year.

University spokesman Jeff Stensland said Tuesday that Claudia Benitez-Nelson has been chosen as the 2013 Mungo Distinguished Professor of the Year. Benitez-Nelson teaches the class in introductory marine science. She makes it her mission to connect with every first-year student.

Benitez-Nelson says she recalls two professors who reached out to her during her undergraduate years, and she thinks that's the way to get students hooked on learning.

She's the director of the school's marine science program and joined the faculty in 2002.

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