Thammaiah Viswanatha, recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award, 1979


Professor Viswanatha is a biochemist who has been in the Department of Chemistry at Waterloo since 1964, and has held the rank of professor since 1966. "Nat” as his colleagues call him, is a senior scientist, with scores of research publications to his credit, and a splendid international reputation. Professor Viswanatha is being honoured with the Distinguished Teacher Award for his remarkable achievements in teaching biochemistry to upper year undergraduates and to graduate students. These achievements are best illustrated by quotations from the many letters written in support of the nomination by the students he now teaches, by his former students, and by his colleagues. The chairman of chemistry writes: “The common theme [in the letters about his teaching] is [his] total commitment to his students at all levels” and “His greatest talent is the ability to instill in his students a love of learning, motivation, and curiosity. This has endeared him to his classes and resulted in a large number of students requesting to study under his supervision for graduate degrees.” Professor Viswanatha's students and colleagues are awed by his lecture style, described by one of them in these words: “He never used any lecture notes, which was a source of wonder for some time; subsequently it became clear that his apparent “off the cuff” delivery was the result of careful and detailed preparation involving the expenditure of considerable time and energy.” But there is more to Nat's teaching than encyclopaedic knowledge and effective presentation. In the words of a former student: “Dr. Viswanatha has a sense of responsibility to his position and he truly regards it as his duty. His sense of duty encompasses a great deal more than presenting lectures, supervising research, conducting seminars, and attending staff meetings. He takes a genuine interest in the overall academic and personal growth of the individual student.” The closing lines of this tribute are taken from the letter of yet another former student: “Due to my association with Dr. Viswanatha, I have not only developed a love for science but I have also become very interested in a teaching career. If I develop even a fraction of the teaching ability of Dr. Viswanatha, I shall be well satisfied.”

[Professor Viswanatha died in 2009]