Dr. Rajibul Islam awarded Excellence in Science Teaching Award

Monday, May 13, 2024

Congratulations to Dr. Rajibul Islam, a faculty member at the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) and a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, who has been awarded the 2024 Excellence in Science Teaching Award.

This annual award, selected by the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Science, recognizes instructors who have demonstrated sustained, high-quality teaching in their undergraduate or graduate courses.

“This award recognizes the time and effort that Rajibul is putting into quality teaching,” says Dr. Norbert Lütkenhaus, Executive Director of IQC. “His energy showcases the care and commitment of IQC faculty members as they engage with our campus community beyond their own research.”

Islam has taught courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels on topics he is passionate about, including quantum mechanics and optics. While teaching, he believes that it is important to draw from his own personal experiences and research to make the content relatable to his students.

“Quantum mechanics is inherently counterintuitive. At an introductory level, there needs to be a balance between mastering its mathematical tools and developing a physical intuition,” says Islam. “While we might not directly observe quantum phenomena in our daily lives, we regularly use technology that depends on quantum physics.”

By presenting students with questions such as ‘which apps on your phone utilize an atomic clock?’, Islam encourages classroom discussions and deeper comprehension for his students’ learning. He enjoys linking basic concepts to more advanced topics like quantum computing and is passionate about taking the time to explore topics in depth with students during office hours.

Islam has also participated in an IQC pilot program that provides an additional graduate student teaching assistant as a course manager, which allowed him the resources to develop learning modules for his courses which would have been otherwise unfeasible.

With high praise from former students, Islam’s passion for teaching is transferred to the students in his classes. One student from his third year Physical Optics class this past term posted online that “out of all the instructors I've had, he is probably the best at explaining physics concepts intuitively.”

Research and teaching are intertwined. By taking the time to teach students and assist them in their learning journey, IQC’s faculty members are inspiring the next generation of quantum professionals.

“It is incredibly rewarding to know that my teaching has inspired some students enough to motivate them to write recommendation letters for me,” says Islam. “Receiving an award that has been previously bestowed upon many dedicated educators serves as a gratifying affirmation of the teaching methods and efforts I invest in my own instruction.”