Great teachers help create the minds of tomorrow. Undergraduate and Graduate education is a strategic priority for the Faculty of Science and we are committed to preparing Science students for rewarding and successful careers.
Using their research experience and expertise, our Faculty inspire students to challenge themselves and surpass their goals. These profiles provide a glimpse into the superb teaching caliber Waterloo Science has to offer.
A previous Waterloo undergraduate Science student, Distinguished Teacher Award recipient Dr. Vivian Dayeh has been on both ends of the student–teacher partnership. It’s not uncommon to walk into one of her physiology courses and see the class doing a wave in order to simulate an action potential. With her enthusiasm for teaching, Dayeh is a catalyst, sparking a passion of lifelong learning in her students.
As the Biology Department’s very first lecturer, Dr. Christine Dupont’s Socratic teaching style and fluid voice carries through in her lectures as she mixes traditional teaching techniques with modern podcasting technology. Often playing the devil’s advocate, Dupont uses erroneous diagrams as a tool to reinforce accurate biological processes in her students.
Charismatic and inspirational, Undergraduate Officer Richard Epp can explain complicated concepts in simple ways. With a background in outreach and an unparalleled passion for physics, it’s not rocket science that he stands out in a department so rich in teaching talent. A dedicated and patient mentor, Epp aims to empower his students by teaching them to think like physicists and approach problems in new ways.
Organic chemistry is a language, but Professor Steven Forsey and Instructor Julie Goll make it their personal mission to provide students with the resources they need to succeed. Bringing the classroom into the 21st century, they use the interactive learning platform TopHat, to give students access to online question banks, demo videos and even complete against one another in a real-time tournaments to test their skills.
In the field of optometry, teamwork and critical thinking skills go hand in hand. An optometrist for more than thirty years, Clinical Professor Patricia Hrynchak understands the merits of the team-based learning approach when training the next generation of health practitioners. Incorporating a flipped classroom in her lectures, Hrynchak teaches students to take responsibility and be engaged in their own learning.
Launching Nerf darts into the air; firing film canisters and even propelling himself down a corridor using a fire extinguisher, are just some of the creative and fun demos Professor and Associate Dean Stefan Idziak uses to teach his students. He recognizes physics can be difficult and dry for some students so he uses demos to pique their curiosity and ignite their desire to learn. Even with large classes of 200 students, Idziak isn’t fazed by the challenge of maintaining student engagement.
First-year physics can lead to an exciting change from student to scientist according to Professor Robert Mann, who has taught Physics 121 for more than ten years. Mann uses a mix of live demonstrations and clever examples to help students reconceptualize their understanding from a deeply-embedded Aristotelian view to a scientific Newtonian view.
Professor Josh Neufeld likes to surprise his students in the classroom, guided by three principles that form the core of his self-styled teaching philosophy: empathy, experience, clarity. Known for his use of interactive social media tools, legendary costumes and re-enactments, and an accessible story-like lecture style, Neufeld strives to make sure every one of his students walks away from his course feeling knowledgeable, challenged, and engaged.
Social media is on the rise and Bill Power knows just how important the tool can be in a classroom. Power uses Twitter to connect with his class. This platform allows for more than just announcements; students are encouraged to post and discuss problems, allowing for real-time help from both peers and Power himself. Power’s motivation is simple: students are using technology, and it’s up to educators to get them to use it for ‘good’.
Joseph Sanderson’s lectures aren’t like of a traditional classroom. Moving away from the standard lecture format of students taking notes while an expert talks, Sanderson focuses on student engagement through group work and peer instruction. He believes that by helping students find the correct answer on their own, instead of just dictating solutions, they take responsibility for their learning and encourages them to self-achieve.
All students learn in different ways, and 2011 Distinguished Teacher Jonathan Witt can teach them all. Witt is able to explain information clearly and effectively in a variety of ways by taking a multi-pronged approach to teaching. Combined with his sonorous voice, he rarely sees his fourth-year class attendance less than 95 per cent. Witt even goes as far as coming to student study sessions to ensure all questions can be answered prior to exams.