Excellence in Science Teaching Award (ESTA)

The Excellence in Science Teaching Award (ESTA) is awarded annually to a maximum of two instructors who have demonstrated sustained, high quality teaching in their undergraduate or graduate courses.

The ESTA award was established to recognize and reward excellence in teaching and outstanding instructors within the Faculty of Science. Winners of the ESTA receive a certificate and a monetary award ($2500), which is to be used in support of any teaching activities. Also, the winners’ names are listed with previous ESTA winners on a plaque in the Dean of Science area.

Winners are chosen by a committee, the ESTA Selection Committee, which has representation from each Department/School in the Faculty of Science.

Who can be no​minated?

Instructors eligible for nomination include full or part-time faculty or instructional staff, lecturers, clinical teachers and demonstrators in Science. Undergraduate or graduate TAs cannot be nominated.

Eligible instructors must have been employed at University of Waterloo for at least 3 years.

Previous ESTA winners are ineligible for re-nomination for a 5-year period in order to provide opportunities for other deserving instructors to be recognized. Former University of Waterloo Distinguished Teacher Award (DTA) winners are also ineligible.


Who ca​n nominate?

Any student, faculty or staff member currently at the University of Waterloo can make a nomination.


How does the process work?

Nominations for the ESTA can be submitted using our online form, or directly to one of the ESTA Selection Committee members.

After the nomination deadline, each Department/School will select a candidate from their pool of nominees to put forward to the ESTA committee for consideration for the award.

A dossier should be prepared for the ESTA candidate and should include:

  1. A letter of support from the Chair/Director, which contains a clear statement addressing the quality of the candidate's teaching.                                                        
  1. Two to five separate letters of support from undergraduate or graduate students. Students should be encouraged to provide specific examples to illustrate the candidate's teaching quality. The nomination form, when submitted by a student, can also be considered as one of the letters of student support.
  1. A maximum of three letters of support from teaching colleagues (cannot be a sitting ESTA Selection Committee member).
  1. A list of courses and a summary table of teaching evaluation results for all courses taught by the candidate over, as a minimum, the previous 3 years.
  1. A summary of any other supporting material regarding teaching related activities such as, but not limited to:
  • Other teaching awards
  • Teaching related publications or presentations
  • Curriculum committees or other Department/School or University activities related to teaching and learning
  • Undergraduate advising
  • Graduate advising
  • Teaching related courses taken or presented
  • Other activities in support of students


Evaluation criteria

When evaluating the dossier, the committee will consider if the candidate:

  • Demonstrates sustained and high quality teaching in their courses.
  • Utilizes current and best practice teaching techniques.
  • Presents high quality subject matter with intellectual rigor and integrity.
  • Uses and/or has developed innovative and state-of-the-art teaching techniques.
  • Contributes to the improvement of teaching and learning within the Department/School or University.
  • Has, as an instructor, had a favourable and lasting influence on students or colleagues.
  • Demonstrates a sensitivity to the needs of students and a sincere concern for their overall learning, and academic and personal growth.

It is anticipated that candidates will excel in some, but not necessarily all, of the aspects listed above.


Who selects the ESTA winners?

The ESTA Selection Committee is comprised of the Science Teaching Fellows, an appointed teaching representative from each of the six Departments and Schools. The Faculty of Science Senior Teaching Fellow heads the ESTA Selection Committee. 


How does ESTA relate to University of Waterloo's Distinguished Teacher Awards? 

There is no attempt to coordinate activity related to the ESTA competition and University of Waterloo's Distinguished Teaching Award (DTA). However, Chairs/Directors (or their delegates) are encouraged to develop the dossiers of ESTA award winners so that they are fully competitive at the University level for future DTA competitions.



Nominations should be submitted no later than 4:30 PM on the second Friday in February.

The names of the nominees will be forwarded to the Department/School and a completed dossier for the selected candidate should be submitted to the candidate’s Department/School ESTA Selection Committee member no later than 4:30 PM on the first Friday in March.

The winner will normally be announced by the third Friday in March.

For more information

Please contact the chair of the ESTA Selection Committee.