Two Science grad students receive Amit and Meena Chakma Awards for Exceptional Teaching

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The recipients of the 2019 Amit and Meena Chakma Awards for Exceptional Teaching by a Student were announced today by Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs Jeff Casello. Two Science graduate students were among the four winners.

The Amit & Meena Chakma Awards for Exceptional Teaching by a Student were established through a generous gift by Dr. & Mrs. Chakma to recognize and promote teaching excellence of our next generation of educators. 

The recipients of the 2019 Amit & Meena Chakma Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Student were: Marcus Abramovitch (Science), Apratim Chakraborty (Engineering), Heidi Fernandes (Science) and Caelan Wang (Mathematics). 

Recipients are chosen by the selection committee which assesses the candidates intellectual rigor and communication skills in the interpretation and presentation of subject matter. Concern for and sensitivity to the academic need of the student is an important criterion. The value of the award is $1,000.

The awards will be presented at the Spring Convocation this June. Learn more about the two Science recipients.

Marcus Abramovitch - Department of Chemistry

Marcus Abramovitch.Marcus Abramovitch, a PhD candidate in Prof. Linda Nazar's lab in the Department of Chemistry, is recognized by students and faculty members for his leadership, patience and dedication in teaching. 

A student described Abramovitch’s teaching as exceptional because of “his passion towards the subject and his passion towards his students.”

Abramovitch is characterized by his students as “very open and approachable” who often went out of his way to be available and present in his students’ learning. He would “question, probe, and attempt to get the student to explain his/her reasoning for their thoughts instead of simply giving the answer”.

Many students reflected that Abramovitch had made a significant impact on their learning personally and made working with him very engaging and beneficial. 

A faculty member who supervised Abramovitch in his teaching commented that he “put himself 300 per cent into the course material, not just in time, but in effort that was well appreciated by the students”.

Additionally, he filled in for six lectures “with aplomb and excellence.” A student highlighted that Abramovitch “went above and beyond the expectations for his role as a TA and even took on teaching the course.”  

Abramovitch has been a teaching assistant for CHEM 310. He also received the 2018 Waterloo Institute of Nanotechnology (WIN) Fellowship.

Heidi Fernandes - School of Pharmacy

Heidi Fernandes.Heidi Fernandes, a Masters student in Dr. Feng Chang's lab in the School of Pharmacy, is recognized by her students, peers and faculty members for her leadership, teaching methods, adaptability and passion in teaching.

A faculty member remarked that Fernandes “has already become [the] ‘go-to’ person when [instructors] need someone to lead a teaching activity.” Fernandes “thrived” in her role as a tutor for PHARM 422; a challenging course where she guided students in their learning, provided constructive feedback and facilitated class dynamics with excellence.

In this course, Fernandes implemented an active teaching strategy of pairing up students to learn and teach from each other, which made a profound difference in her students’ learning.

A student remarked that Fernandes had the “ability to take complex topics and explain them in a very clear, structured and simple manner.” Fernandes is consistently making “it a priority to provide [her students] with all the support needed to succeed.”

Fernandes served as an assessor for the Objective Structured Clinical Exam series and is a member of the Society of Pharmacy Students. She also completed the Fundamentals of University Teaching certificate offered by the Centre for Teaching Excellence.

Fernandes was a teaching assistant for PHARM 222, PHARM 223, PHARM 422, and lab facilitator for PHARM 229, PHARM 329. She also guest lectured for PHARM 378, PHARM 472, SWK 601R and was a supervisor for PHARM 401.

Two years ago, Fernandes was part of group of healthcare professionals and students, who travelled to Peru to establish three medical clinics and provide free healthcare services to residents in the community of Pamplona Alta, located near Peru's capital.

Congratulations to Marcus and Heidi!