Physics lecturer Brenda Lee a 2024 Distinguished Teaching Award winner

Friday, April 19, 2024

by Katie McQuaid

Brenda Lee

Along with three other colleagues from across the University, Brenda Lee, continuing lecturer in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, has been awarded the 2024 Distinguished Teaching Award (DTA) from the Centre for Teaching Excellence on campus.

After graduating from UW, Lee began her career as a sessional lecturer in both the Faculty of Science and Faculty of Math in 2015 until she became a full-time Lecturer (2019) then Continuing Lecturer (2022) for the Department of Physics & Astronomy. Along with this award, Lee has also been awarded the Amit & Meena Chakma Award in 2014, the WUSA/OUSA Teaching Excellence Award in 2019, and the Excellence in Science Teaching Award in 2021. She was also named Associate Chair, Undergraduate Studies, in 2023 because of her deep care for the students.

Nominations for the DTA come from students who can submit letters of nomination for their favourite teachers in February every year. This year, many students wrote letters sharing their appreciation for Lee and her teaching methods. She was lauded for her inclusive and diverse teaching style, and for making her classroom a safe space for everyone who walks in the door. 

“Dr. Lee is passionate about changing the way students approach learning physics, it is evident that she is dedicated to helping all her students understand the material she teaches. She structured her courses so students would have time to think about assignment problems, and then have opportunities to learn more about the material through tutorials, office hours, or supervised peer discussion before the assignment was due.”

Her dedication to her students and creating a successful learning journey was apparent in all the letters from current and former students who supported her nomination. That passion also led her to collaborate with her students to open the new Physics Tutorial Centre in the fall of 2023. The Centre is a dedicated safe space to provide enhanced academic support to students from peers, teaching assistants and instructors. 

It’s clear when talking to Dr. Lee that she cares deeply about her students and wants them to do well in all their courses, not just hers. “My lifelong passion has been to teach and mentor students at the university level and to make a difference in student lives by encouraging everyone to be the best they can be,” says Lee. “To be able to do this in my hometown of Waterloo and at my alma mater is a dream come true.”

Congratulations to Dr. Lee!