Congratulations to the Excellence in Science Teaching Award winners!

Monday, May 13, 2024

By Sarah Fullerton 

Digital Communications Specialist 

Congratulations to Shamroze Khan and Kazi Rajibul Islam on receiving the 2024 Excellence in Science Teaching Award (ESTA) from the Faculty of Science. This award is granted annually to two instructors who have demonstrated excellence in teaching in their undergraduate or graduate courses, as nominated by students, faculty, and staff.  

At the Faculty of Science, we are inspired daily by our remarkable educators who go the extra mile to further student learning. Continue reading to learn more about the award winners, their teaching philosophy, and what they love about being a professor.  

A headshot of Dr. Shamroze Khan. She is wearing a black blazer and top and is leaning against a glass door.

Dr. Khan received her Honours Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Optometry degrees from the University of Waterloo in 2007. Following this, she pursued a residency in Low Vision Rehabilitation and Ocular Disease with the Illinois College of Optometry, graduating in 2008. Dr. Khan returned to Canada and served intensively in private practice while maintaining a Clinical supervisory role at Waterloo’s School of Optometry & Vision Science. She joined the faculty full-time as Assistant Clinical Professor in November 2016. Dr. Khan's primary interests are low-vision rehabilitation education and increasing access to low-vision care for those with visual impairment. 

What is your teaching philosophy?  

My teaching style emphasizes striking a balance between holding students to high standards of clinical proficiency and creating a supportive and engaging learning environment where they feel valued and included.  Students will develop essential skills, empathy and compassion towards their future patients by fostering a patient-centred approach. It is crucial that students feel safe to ask questions and make mistakes, as it is an essential part of the learning process. In my classroom, we work collaboratively to create a foundation of knowledge and skills that benefit the students and their future patients. 

What do you love about teaching? 

Knowing the impact it has on students who will provide high-quality, accessible, specialty eye care to patients. As a faculty member, I am surrounded by some of the brightest minds in my profession, which expands my learning and skills each term. 

It is humbling and fulfilling to have a front-row seat to the student's transition from learning the basics to growing into compassionate, patient-centred, and highly knowledgeable healthcare providers. It is a gift to see them through from the first day they join us to the day they graduate. 


A headshot of Dr. Rajibul Islam. He is wearing a blue striped collared shirt and has glasses on.

Dr. Rajibul Islam joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo in November 2016. He is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Science and the Principal Investigator at the Laboratory for Quantum Information with Trapped Ions at IQC. 

Dr. Islam completed his BSc and MSc in Physics in India and his PhD in Physics at the University of Maryland. After earning his PhD, Dr. Islam was a postdoctoral researcher at the MIT-Harvard Center for Ultracold Atoms (CUA). Subsequently, he established his research group at the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC), focusing on quantum information. His laboratory utilizes laser-cooling and ion-trapping techniques to manipulate individual atoms for quantum information research. His team has been developing quantum simulators based on these trapped atomic ions, which could advance the fields of new materials and drug discovery. Learn more about Dr. Islam's work at IQC. 

What is your teaching philosophy? 

I have been fortunate to have many outstanding teachers who have played a role in shaping my teaching. The teachers who inspired me had different teaching philosophies and styles, but it was clear that they were devoted and deeply cared for helping students, which has influenced how I teach.  

I am fortunate my requests to teach subjects I am most passionate about have been honoured, like Quantum mechanics and Optics. I draw from my experience and insights from my research and try to convey my lessons through engaging teaching tools such as clicker questions, live optics demonstrations, and numerical simulations.  

Classroom lectures are just one component of learning. It takes time and sustained effort for human brains to understand new concepts. The take-home assignments I give students guide them through new material rather than test them on it.  

Beyond my regularly scheduled classes, I am passionate about assisting students committed to their studies. If students come to my office hours or reach out, I support them as much as possible.  

What do you love about teaching? 

I am passionate about teaching quantum mechanics because it is my area of research. Research and teaching are interconnected, and the subjects I teach are growing and evolving, so staying up-to-date on new research is crucial.  

I enjoy sparking discussions in the classroom by exploring whether there are more atoms or photons in the room, how tightly we must confine electrons in a semiconductor diode junction to emit visible light, or which apps on your phone utilize an atomic clock. Additionally, I enjoy linking basic concepts to more advanced research topics, such as those in quantum computing.