Continuing lecturer Marcel Pinheiro wins 2019 Excellence in Science Teaching Award

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Marcel Pinheiro headshotBiology continuing lecturer Marcel Pinheiro has been awarded the Faculty of Science's 2019 Excellence in Science Teaching Award for his innovative and engaging teaching methods.

He's dedicated to using the best and most innovative pedagogical techniques. He is an active and regular participant in the Centre for Teaching Excellence courses and workshops, Teaching and Learning conferences and an active member and contributor to the Ontario Consortium of Undergraduate Biology Educators.

Pinheiro's expertise is in parasitology and zoology. He teaches several Biology courses including: Biology in the Modern World (Biol 101), Introductory Zoology (Biol 110), Diversity of Life (Biol 165), Applied Microbiology (Biol 241), Invertebrate Zoology (Biol 310) and Parasitology (Biol 414). He also co-teaches a field course held in Costa Rica during the spring semester. 

Over the past three years, Pinheiro has taught at least 6 difference courses and developed three courses from scratch (Biol 101, 310 and 414). He consistently scores in the top 5 for his teaching evaluations. His students consistently comment that he presents content in a clear and fun way and deeply cares about them and their success.

"His holistic approach to teaching helps me appreciate biology and that it's very multi-faceted," said Cici, a student. "It definitely fosters my love and motivation for learning."

He uses fun facts to make his classes more engaging and also takes the opportunity to highlight the societial impacts associated with what they are learning in class. For example, when studying malaria Pinheiro taught the cultural impacts and history of malaria in Canada and the world. The additional information helped students comprehend the biology of malaria and its impact on society.

Pinheiro cares about his students and encourages them to speak up in class. He asks for feedback throughout the course so that if something isn't working he can change it immediately. In one course he took his student's questions and made a podcast to answer their misconceptions and concerns. The effort he puts into these videos and his persistance in verifying they understand the material is proof he cares about their learning.

"From his teaching enthusiasm to his innovative learning tools, Dr. Pinheiro has made the Department of Biology a richer place for students."

Pinheiro will also drop by labs to help out. He makes time for his students by staying after class to answer questions or seeing them during his office hours. He's always willing to work with students to help them reach their full potential. 

He uses the latest educational software packages, teaching techniques and technology to enable a positive learning environment that works for students with different learning styles. His teaching style takes a student-centred learning approach that encourages inquiry-based learning rather than memorization. 

"Marcel's style of teaching encourages future generations of field biologists and ignites enthusiasm for living organisms," said Kirsten Müller, a biology professor.

Pinheiro is also a great team player and positively contributes to the Department of Biology. His committee work involves overseeing the inventory and re-vitalization of their museum collection to be used in displays and courses. As part of the ad hoc curriculum task force, he participated in a broad curriculum reivew that provided recommendations to maximize available resources and increase experiential learning opportunities. He was also part of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee which assists in implementing and monitoring curriculum changes in Biology. Finally, Pinheiro is the academic advisor for the Biomedical Science program, the largest in the department.

"The Department of Biology is very proud to have Marcel as a colleague and our students are lucky to have him as their instructor," said Hugh Broders, department chair. "This recognition is very well deserved. Congratulations Marcel!"

He also won the Department of Biology's 2016 Jack Carlson Teaching Award. The recipient must demonstrate excellence in teaching and is selected by the Department of Biology's Annual Performance Review Committee.

Pinheiro's passion for teaching goes beyond his classes at UWaterloo. He's also committed to sharing his enthusiasm and love of biology with elementary school students and the local community. He's been a guest speaker on insects and pollinators, invertebrates and evolution for kindergarten, grade 4 and grade 6 students. He's also spoken to the media about mosquitos and West Nile disease and appeared on an episode of Leafs Nation TV Secrets & Science.

Prof. Natalie Hutchings from the School of Optometry and Vision Science also received the 2019 Excellence in Science Teaching Award.

Congratulations, Marcel!