Chemistry Prof. Mónica Barra and graduate student Lay Ling Tan honoured for excellence in teaching

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Mónica BarraMónica Barra's lasting influence on students and faculty alike has been recognized today with a 2017 Distinguished Teaching Award. She will receive the award at the spring convocation.

The Distinguished Teaching Award recognizes teaching excellence and is the University’s most prestigious teaching honour.

Barra, an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry, is highly recognized by past and present students for her enthusiasm, patience, and passion for the course material.

One alumnus noted that her lectures were interactive and stimulating, and that the course notes were written in such a way that it was easy and even fun to follow along.

This, coupled with her expansive knowledge of the course content, is said to have made students “enamoured with her.”

Colleagues wrote, “Mónica is a highly dedicated and caring teacher who goes way beyond the call of duty to help students learn and succeed.”

This is evident in her work as Chair of Chemistry's curriculum committee. One lecturer highlighted that her leadership has reduced the excessive workload that students faced in the third year of the program, which will benefit students for generations to come.

Barra has been a recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including the ChemClub Periodic Table of Teaching Excellence Award, an award presented annually by undergraduate students. Barra also received the Excellence in Science Teaching Award last year.

The other recipients of the Distinguished Teaching Award were: Sanjeev Bedi (Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering), Dan Davison (Electrical and Computer Engineering) and David McKinnon (Pure Mathematics).

Lay Ling TanLay Ling Tan, a Chemistry doctoral student in Sonny Lee's lab, will receive a 2017 Amit and Meena Chakma Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Student. The award was established through a generous gift by Dr. and Mrs. Chakma to recognize and promote teaching excellence of our next generation of educators.

Tan has taught a number of courses including CHEM 120, CHEM 123, CHEM 212, CHEM 310 (course and lab components). This award recognizes her diligence, patience, and dedication as an educator.

Students find her teaching comparable to a seasoned professor in that it is very practical, insightful and memorable.

One undergraduate student added that “Lay Ling has a phenomenal knowledge and understanding of inorganic chemistry, but, more importantly, is exceptional at communicating and teaching complex chemical concepts and problems.”

"In my dozen years at Waterloo, I have not had as qualified and dedicated a teaching assistant as Lay Ling," said Prof. Lee. "I think Lay Ling’s greatest teaching strength is her expectation of excellence -- Lay Ling encourages students to wrestle with difficult topics, and this attitude has translated to better learning opportunities and performance in her students."

In addition to being named a recipient of the Amit and Meena Chakma Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Student, Tan has also received the Department of Chemistry Teaching Assistant Excellence Award on three separate occasions.