Cecilia Cotton from the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Sciences and Martin Pei from the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization have been named winners of this year’s Awards for Distinction in Teaching from the Faculty of Mathematics.
The annual teaching award goes to faculty members who have consistently demonstrated outstanding pedagogical skills and a deep commitment to students. The winners are honoured by a public citation along with a cash prize.
The award announcement was made by Brian Forrest, the Faculty of Mathematics teaching fellow.
“The Faculty of Mathematics is very interested in enhancing student success in the classroom,” said Forrest. “In particular, we want to improve teaching across the faculty. One aspect of this process is to recognize those individuals who are highly effective in the classroom and who put forth extra effort into their teaching on behalf of their students.”
One of this year’s two award winners, Cecilia Cotton is an associate professor in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Sciences. Her research focuses on biostatistics and on data in public health. Cotton regularly participates in teaching and learning initiatives and supports new faculty members in their pedagogy.
Asked about Cotton’s candidacy for the teaching award, Forrest said that she is “an outstanding educator who has had great success teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Her students see her as an inspiring teacher who delivers highly engaging lectures, and as someone who is always available to help her students succeed. Cecilia has also established herself as a true leader in matters concerning teaching in both her department and at the faculty level.”
Another of this year’s two award winners, Martin Pei is a lecturer in the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization. His research focuses on hypergraphs and quantum computing. Pei is known among his students as an accessible and amiable teacher who effectively uses humour in the classroom.
Forrest noted that Pei “is one of the faculty’s most popular instructors, who is capable of drawing an overflow crowd to an 8:30 AM lecture on the coldest winter day. Martin establishes tremendous rapport with his students and is always available to help them should they run into any difficulties with the course content. His dedication to providing his students with the best possible learning environment inspired them to start a ‘Martin Pei Appreciation Thread’ on Reddit.”
The annual Awards for Distinction in Teaching are part of the Faculty of Mathematics’ ongoing focus on pedagogy and “one of the core missions as outlined in the 2018 Strategic Plan,” said Forrest. “Outstanding teachers help their students to reach their full potential, and so we recognize that with our Awards for Distinction in Teaching.”