Dr. Charles Babbs Inducted into Book of Great Teachers

Dr. Charles Babbs, faculty member of the Weldon School, was inducted into the Book of Great Teachers at Purdue. Babbs has been teaching at the Weldon School since it was founded.
Dr. Babbs was nominated by his students for the Book of Great Teachers. “Students often can’t remember the names of most of their professors in the years after graduation,” Weldon senior Matthew Pharris said, “but I’m sure they won’t forget Charlie Babbs.”
In December 2013, Dr. Charles Babbs (MD, PhD), faculty member of the Weldon School, was inducted into the Book of Great Teachers at Purdue University. Only 384 professors have received this honor in the history of the award.

Babbs has been teaching at the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering since it was founded and has earned several accolades for outstanding teaching. In addition to the Book of Great Teachers award, Babbs was the recipient of the Biomedical Engineering Tacker Prize for Outstanding Teaching, as well as several awards from his time teaching at Indiana University Medical School.                               

The Book of Great Teachers is awarded every five years. Recipients are nominated by students and must have worked at the University for at least fifteen years. This year, 68 professors were honored with this award; the list of all 384 recipients is located at the Purdue Memorial Union. 

Babbs said receiving the award was very surprising. “It was impressive, the huge breadth of intellectual activity at Purdue University, and to be part of that was very gratifying.”

Matthew Pharris, a senior in Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, was not surprised by the news of Babbs’ induction into the Book of Great Teachers. “I’m not surprised by this in the least…Dr. Babbs is central to the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.  He’s been with the program since the very beginning, has taught thousands of students, and is incredibly effective as an educator,” said Pharris.

Pharris is a teaching assistant in one of Dr. Babbs’ undergraduate classes. He stated that Babbs is extremely dedicated to helping students, and is very accessible. “Dr. Babbs teaches in a way that keeps you engaged as a student. We learn the biology that’s critical to our success in the BME program, but more importantly we apply that knowledge in an engineering context through a series of computational modeling projects.  These are skills that I use over and over again as a BME student.”

“The BME students are really nice, they’re curious, smart, polite, and have a lot of potential to do good in the world,” said Babbs. “Having been one of the founding faculty, I try to pass on some Purdue Biomedical Engineering lore and lessons from the first 20-25 years of biomed at Purdue, the likes of which only an old wizard would know, and I’m the old wizard. Tricks and tips of how to get things done is one of the biggest things that I emphasize in both of my courses. I also emphasize the importance of deadlines and not procrastinating.”

One of Babbs’ core teaching principles comes from the late Dr. Geddes, a distinguished professor of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue.  Geddes said the secret to developing talent is to, “give students a project in which they can be successful.”

“I thought about that and realized he is right,” said Babbs. “If you show people they can be successful by doing it the right way, they will naturally do it the next time. If they work together in a team, pull together their knowledge of biology, calculus, and physics, work ahead, if they’re nice, and collaborative, and think clearly, then they can be successful.”

“If they achieve success doing it right they will naturally do it the next time. That is what I try to do, get students to do it right once. Then they will naturally do it again,” said Babbs.

“Students often can’t remember the names of most of their professors in the years after graduation,” Pharris said, “but I’m sure they won’t forget Charlie Babbs.”