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John Watrous

In 2016, the Faculty of Mathematics awarded two individuals with distinctions in teaching. One of those awards went to Professor Ruxandra Moraru. The other award was given to Professor John Watrous.

Watrous teaches courses related to quantum theory and quantum computing. The students he works with have an advanced understanding of computing and look to him to provide them with an opportunity to learn about special topics they may not otherwise be exposed to.

“My topics and seminar courses are a chance to learn. The number of students and topics vary. For the first half of the term, I teach them. During the second half of the term, they teach each other.”

Watrous explained that he was surprised to be nominated for a distinction in teaching award, saying that it came out of nowhere.

A traditionalist when it comes to teaching, Watrous likes to use chalk and a blackboard when he’s teaching. “The tools I use could’ve been used 50 years ago. I don’t mind using old fashioned things.”

It would seem his students don’t mind either.

When it comes to teaching, Watrous says his favourite part is when students have a chance to collaborate and learn from one another. “It’s great to see them really into it. It’s when they sit and put the material together, work through problems, and have that light bulb moment that is really rewarding.”

He explains that the ah-ha moment comes with a lot of planning. “Students need to get to work early and be organized. Doing a bit of work each day is one way to be successful. It isn’t more work if you do it earlier.”

Watrous and Moraru join 18 past recipients of the Faculty of Mathematics Award for Distinction in Teaching since its inception:

  • 2015 – Steve Drekic and David Harmsworth
  • 2014 - Penny Haxell and Javid Ali
  • 2013 - Dan Wolczuk and Yu-Ru Liu
  • 2012 – Stephen New and Levent Tuncel
  • 2011 – J.P. Pretti and Jeffrey Shallit
  • 2010 – Serge D’Alessio and Alfred Menezes
  • 2009 – Ian Goulden and Troy Vasiga
  • 2008 – Robin Cohen and David McKinnon
  • 2007 – Beverly Marshman and Ian VanderBurgh

Nominate your outstanding Faculty of Mathematics teacher for this award!