Top Teacher

“My proudest moments at Rutgers—they all seem to be associated with students,” says Scott Glenn, a professor of physical oceanography at Rutgers–New Brunswick.

That’s not surprising considering his dedication to sharing with students the excitement of ocean exploration and observation technologies.

Glenn’s efforts have earned him the title of 2010 New Jersey Professor of the Year.

Given by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the U.S. Professors of the Year awards salute the most outstanding undergraduate faculty in the country—those who excel as teachers and influence the lives and careers of their students.

Man on a Mission

In one example of his impressive record of teaching, Glenn, who is the founder and codirector of the Coastal Ocean Observation Lab (the COOL Room) in the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, led a team of faculty, students, and staff that successfully deployed and navigated the first unmanned research glider to cross the Atlantic in 2009.

Scott Glenn and studentsUndergraduate students participated in every stage of the “Scarlet Knight” Rutgers RU27 underwater glider mission, from planning to recovery. In the process, they experienced the hallmarks of a great education—a demand for critical thinking and creative problem solving coupled with real-life experience and shared discovery.

“Professor Glenn is always energetic and excited to help and provide us with learning opportunities that most undergraduates never get to experience,” says junior Amelia Snow. “He treats his students as equals and really allows us to be involved in all the activities of the lab.”

To Share the Excitement

In this RU-tv student-produced video, Professor Scott Glenn talks about how he came to Rutgers, how the COOL Room came about, and what makes him proud.

Sparking Enthusiasm

After it was retrieved from Spain following the transatlantic voyage, Glenn brought the RU27 glider to classrooms around the state and invited students to Rutgers to experience exploratory ocean science.

“By enabling students to participate, we can inspire more of them, increase ocean literacy, and broaden the definition of who can be an oceanographer,” says Glenn, who has been at Rutgers since 1990. “I think that’s the biggest contribution we can make.”


Currently, Rutgers is deploying up to eight gliders in Antarctica to study Southern Hemisphere summer climate changes. This past summer other Rutgers gliders were deployed in the Gulf of Mexico to help monitor the spread of oil from the BP spill.

Glenn has begun laying the groundwork for the COOL room’s next ambitious research project, the Challenger Mission, an around-the-world quest with a coordinated international fleet of underwater gliders.

And he continues to exhort students to make the most of their time at Rutgers: “Get involved. Your time as undergraduates is a time for exploration. Find something you are interested in, some people you enjoy working with, and dive in.”