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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

  • 2015's Distinguished Teachers named
  • Students awarded for exceptional teaching
  • Library to extend hours during exam period
  • Research Talks event this week; other notes

2015's Distinguished Teachers named

Distinguished Teacher Awards for 2015 will be presented to four faculty members at convocation, associate vice-president, academic Mario Coniglio announced at last night's meeting of the university senate. The winners are:

  • Greta Kroeker;
  • Michael MacDonald;
  • Mary Louise McAllister; and
  • Jeff West.


Professor Greta Kroeker.Greta Kroeker, an associate professor in the Department of History, joined the University of Waterloo in July 2007. Kroeker goes beyond the expected levels of an instructor by creating a “learning environment all its own,” as one alumnus describes it. Teaching courses that require students to complete readings can be difficult. However, Kroeker compels students to complete such assignments with an interest in the material and enthusiasm as well. She uses her own enthusiasm, humour, and deep understanding of the content to encourage students to work at what they are learning. As one graduate student shares, “Dr. Kroeker encouraged me to continue to pursue my studies in history, thereby greatly impacting and influencing my own learning”.  By acting as a mentor and a motivator, Kroeker allows students to “feel safe and secure in their learning environment”, and dedicates many hours to supporting them. Innovating courses that students with an outside perspective may view as content-heavy is another way Kroeker goes beyond the realms of teaching. By structuring tutorials and assigning group projects that encourage creativity, students are able to develop “‘out of the box’ thinking when presenting research information”, which is an aspect an alumnus appreciated. As her fellow colleague explains, “Dr. Kroeker personally builds a compelling case for higher education, linking practical skills with intellectual achievement”.


Professor Michael MacDonald.Michael MacDonald, an associate professor in the Department of English Language and Literature joined the University of Waterloo in 2001. MacDonald surpasses student expectations as a result of his remarkable ability to “communicate content seamlessly through his ability with speech”. Teaching material that can be viewed as ancient is a challenge that MacDonald breaks down and assists students in grasping. He ensures students have an understanding of what is expected, and structures his courses such that students are able to remain focused and on-track. MacDonald does more than just ensuring that his students complete academic requirements. He encourages students to “develop new ways of thinking about language and rhetoric”, which is one way a former graduate felt inspired by MacDonald’s teaching. Outside of the classroom, MacDonald is dedicated to remaining connected and fostering constant interaction with his students. He responds “promptly to students queries on the LEARN discussion boards” and “makes himself available to students” if they ever have questions. MacDonald is always happy to make time to explain concepts further, which provides a highly positive impact on student learning. As an undergraduate describes, “his easy-going but professional demeanor ensured that he commanded respect from the class, while also creating a non-intimidating atmosphere that made the classroom feel like a safe place to speak and promote ideas”.


Professor Mary Louise McAllister.Mary Louise McAllister, an associate professor in Environment and Resources Studies and Teaching Fellow for the Faculty of Environment joined the University of Waterloo in September 1996. McAllister transcends the expectations of an educator, dedicating innumerable hours to improving the student learning experience. Her compassion and “contagious enthusiasm” creates an encouraging classroom atmosphere that is conducive to student learning and engagement. McAllister is always searching for innovative, experiential learning techniques, and frequently employs alternative teaching methods to maximize student understanding and create an inclusive learning environment. As one of her undergraduate students states, McAllister is “always willing to change the curriculum to best suit the needs of a specific class, providing personalized environments that create unmatched learning experiences”. A mentor in her field, McAllister continues to share her wealth of knowledge and passion for teaching within her peer group. Her GreenTEA blog is one of the many outlets in which McAllister explores new teaching technologies and promotes deeper pedagogical reflection. An alumnus states, she is “influencing the next generation of environmental leaders”.


Professor Jeff West.Jeff West is a Professional Engineer, Fellow of American Concrete Institute, Associate Professor and Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Since joining the University of Waterloo in January 2008, West has supervised a dozen Master’s students, as well as supervised six PhD students. West is recognized as one of the top instructors in his department by excelling in leadership and mentoring, course design and delivery, as well as leadership in curriculum renewal. Student teaching evaluations have always been outstanding, conveying students’ appreciation for his effective teaching methods and learning environment. As one of his students notes, “His unique delivery method and organized presentation made each and every lecture a sheer joy to attend”.  West is widely known for his ability to convey material to the class in a clear and concise manner by infusing lectures with step-by-step procedures and well-designed course notes that allow for the clarification of even the most abstract topics. Many nominators noted the continuous care and dedication that West provides to his students in and out of the classroom.


"The Distinguished Teacher Award is given in recognition of a record of teaching excellence," said Coniglio as he introduced the winners to the Senate. "These are all role models who set the bar high."


The award was established in 1975 and was expanded in 1988 to include non-regular faculty members. The award consists of a citation and presentation at June convocation, a designation (Recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award) in he University of Waterloo's calendar after the recipient's listing, and an amount of $1,500 placed in a discretionary account under the recipient's control to be used in support of any teaching activities.


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Students awarded for exceptional teaching

The recipients of the 2015 Amit & Meena Chakma Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Student (AETS) were presented at Monday's meeting of the university's senate. The winners are as follows:

  • Mostafa Farrokhabadi;
  • Tommy Mayberry; and
  • Nathaniel Stevens.


Mostafa Farrokhabadi.Mostafa Farrokhabadi is a PhD student in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Students acknowledge his guidance, adaptability, and teaching methods as a TA for ECE 390 and ECE 467. Through the use of thought provoking questions, he encourages students to think critically and form a solid foundation about topics. He is known to take “great pains to explain lecture material” by turning complicated problems and examples into simple ones to which students can relate.


The course instructor complimented him by writing, “Having Mostafa as a TA in a course is a big boon to the course instructor and a great help” as he develops strategies for the students and thoughtfully plans out his work.   A student explains, “Mostafa’s enthusiasm and passion for teaching created an engaging environment whereby we were inspired to learn beyond core concepts, to expand and reflect on our knowledge of the impact that engineering design and economics could have in society”. It is evident that Mostafa went above and beyond the expectations of a teaching assistant.


Tommy Mayberry.Tommy Mayberry, a PhD student in English Language and Literature, is recognized by his students as being a positive, supportive, and “desirable marker, teacher and mentor”. Tommy’s passion for teaching and learning has a great influence on many who cross his path. As one of his students states, “Tommy has a certain spark or passion about him – an energy in his aura that inspires students”.  Students also remarked on his ability to foster a “fun, friendly, encouraging, and safe environment”.  The overflow of students in his classrooms is a testament to his effective and well-designed lectures. His gift for connecting classic literature to popular culture supports his reputation as a great lecturer. According to a faculty member, Tommy’s “ability to impress students, and lead them, willingly and enjoyably, into learning they recognize as valuable”, is a mark of excellence in teaching. Students and faculty describe him as thoughtful, passionate, and fair in his teaching in addition to being sensitive to students’ needs.


Nathaniel Stevens.Nathaniel Stevens, a PhD student in Statistics and Actuarial Science, is recognized for being “consistently enthusiastic in teaching the material” and “attentive to explaining difficult concepts”. Nathaniel, as a teaching assistant and an instructor for STAT 101 and STAT 202, consistently taught his courses with in an effective and engaging manner. A student writes, “his excitement about the subject radiated every class and truly inspired me to do well in the course”. His students note that his care for teaching combined with his proficiency in the subject allows him to present and teach the material well. His exceptional ability to make the classes relatable and interesting comes from being able to “relate course material to relevant topics to students’ lives and their program”.  Many of his students note that his influence extends beyond the classroom as he displays exceptional teaching during his office hours as well. Nathaniel’s deep understanding of the material and dedication to teaching is highly regarded by his students and makes him a deserving recipient.


Associate Provost, Graduate Studies Jim Frank, who chaired the nomination committee, introduced the award winners to members of Senate yesterday. "These are student-driven awards," he said. "We review nominations that come in from students and their interactions with our students performing in a teaching role."


All three winners will be recognized at their respective convocation ceremonies. The award, first established in 1998, was renamed in 2006 and recognizes "excellence in teaching by students who have a formal teaching role (e.g. teaching assistant, laboratory demonstrator, adjunct lecturer) at the University of Waterloo or its federated and affiliated university/colleges."


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Library to extend hours during exam period

The Library will be extending its hours from Sunday, March 29 to April 25 to accommodate students preparing for exams. The Davis Centre will be open for 24 hours except on Sundays, when it is closed from 2:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., with Dana Porter being open from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. every day.

During this time, service desks and related services will be closed at regular times (Porter at 11:00 p.m. and Davis at midnight).

On the last day of extended hours, April 25, the Davis Centre will close at midnight and Porter will close at 11:00 p.m.

At the Davis Centre, there will be attendants present for security purposes. Staff will monitor for noise, cell phone use, and hot foods that are not permitted in the library.


The examination period begins Friday, April 10.


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Research Talks event this week; other notes

Research Talks logo.How did the global financial crisis of 2008 and the recession that followed change global governance? For answers to that question, join Eric Helleiner, Faculty of Arts Chair in International Political Economy, for a discussion of the crisis and whether significant change occurred as a result at the next Research Talks event on Friday, March 27.


“It’s easy to assume that after experiencing something as severe as the 2008 financial crisis, major transformations in global financial governance would occur,” says Helleiner. “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to be part of Research Talks and discuss the realities of what has changed so far with the Waterloo community.”


To join Eric on March 27, please register for Research Talks as seating is limited. Feel free to bring your lunch – light refreshments will be provided.


Here's today's Nutrition Month "myth vs. fact" supplied by Health Services Dietician Sandra Ace:


Myth: Vegetables or fruits that will be peeled don’t need to be washed first.


Fact: All vegetables and fruits, including organic produce, should be washed before being eaten. This includes even foods that you intend to peel like melons, citrus fruit and bananas. Surface bacteria that are invisible to the eye can be transferred to the interior flesh when produce is cut, increasing your risk of foodborne illness. When preparing any food, including fresh produce, start by using warm water and soap to wash your hands, all utensils, countertops and cutting boards. Clean vegetables and fruits by thoroughly rinsing under running water before you peel, cut, cook or eat them. Use a vegetable scrub brush on produce with a firm skin, like potatoes and melons.


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Link of the day

World Tuberculosis Day

When and where

Systems Design Engineering Capstone design symposium (part 2), Tuesday, March 24, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., E5-6111.


Human Resources Pension Lunch and Learn session, "Planning to Retire: Where do I start?" Tuesday, March 24, 12:00 p.m., DC 1302.


Environment and Resource Studies Research Seminar featuring Steven Alexander, “The Ties that Bind: Connections, patterns, and possibilities for Marine Protected Areas,” Tuesday, March 24, 12:00 p.m., EV1-221.


Management Consulting as a Career Option, Tuesday, March 24, 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Tatham Centre room 2218.


Book launch and art show event featuring Bruce Lumsden, “River-Places” and photographs by David Hunsberger, Tuesday, March 24, 7:30 p.m., Dunker Family Lounge, Renison University College.


Electrical and Computer Engineering Capstone design symposium, Wednesday, March 25, 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m., Davis Centre Great Hall.


Innovations in Stormwater Management featuring Cheryl Evans from REEP Green Solutions, Wednesday, March 25, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., EV1 221.  Details.


Waterloo Staff/Faculty/Alumni Dragon Boat Team Information Session, Wednesday, March 25, 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m., EV3 Room 3412. Contact Mary Power or the Waterloo Paddling Club for more information.


Success on the Job, Thursday, March 26, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., TC 1208.


The Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Centre for Computational Mathematics in Industry and Commerce present Professor Anthony Peirce, Department of Mathematics, University of British Columbia, “Modeling Multi-Scale Processes in Hydraulic Fracture Propagation Using the Implicit Level set Algorithm (ILSA)”, Thursday, March 26, 2:30 p.m., CPH 4333. Details.


Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (I.B.M.B.) Seminar Series featuring Dr. Attiq Rehman, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), Guelph, “High Resolution Subtyping of Salmonella Enteritidis Based on Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms” Thursday, March 26, 3:30 p.m., RCH 103. Details.


Practice Your Presentation Skills, Friday, March 27, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tatham Centre room 2218.


Pension & Benefits Committee meeting, Friday, March 27, 9:30 a.m., NH 3001.

Research Talks featuring Eric Helleiner, "Legacies of the 2008 global financial crisis," Friday, March 27, 12:00 p.m., DC 1302. Please register – seating is limited.


Mechatronics Engineering Capstone design symposium, Friday, March 27, 1:00 p.m. to 5 p.m., Davis Centre Great Hall.


David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science Lecture Series featuring Laurie Hendren, McGill University, "Compiler Tools and Techniques for MATLAB," Friday, March 27, 3:30 p.m., DC 1302. Details.


Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology (CBB) Guest Seminar featuring Donald Gerson, CEO, PnuVax, "A Wide-Angle View of Vaccine R&D and Manufacturing," Friday, March 27, 2:30 p.m., E6 2024. Registration required. Details.


Knowledge Integration Senior Research Project Symposium, Friday, March 27, 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Minto Atrium, EV3. Details.

Getting a U.S. Work Permit, Monday, March 30, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., Tatham Centre room 1208.


Ignite Waterloo, Monday, March 30, 5:00 p.m., Modern Languages. Details.


Department of History presents Professor Ian Taylor, University of St. Andrews, “Why Africa is not rising: History reproducing?” Tuesday, March 31, 10:00 a.m., EV3 3412. Refreshments provided.


Mechanical Engineering Capstone design symposium, Tuesday, March 31, 2:00 p.m. to 6 p.m., Sedra Student Design Centre, Engineering 5.


Chemical Engineering Capstone design symposium, Tuesday, March 31, 3:00 p.m. to 5 p.m., Engineering 6.


The Widow; a portrait of love and upheaval in Iraq, Tuesday, March 31, 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Theatre of the Arts. Details.

Noon Hour Concert, The Western Collective, Penderecki, Sextet, Wednesday, April 1, 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College Chapel. Free admission.


Philosophy Colloquium featuring Heidi Grasswick, Middlebury University, “Scientists as Experts: Understanding Trustworthiness Across Communities,” Wednesday, April 1, 3:30 p.m., HH 373. Details.


Gustav Bakos Observatory Tour, Wednesday, April 1, 8:00 p.m., PHY 308. Details.


Norman Esch Capstone Design Awards, Thursday, April 2, 2:00 p.m., Sedra Student Design Centre, Engineering 5.


Biomedical Discussion Group Lecture featuring Dr. Dirk Duncker, “Exercise Training in Adverse Cardiac Remodeling,” Thursday, April 2, 2:30 p.m., DC 1304. Details.


Department of History presents Professor Eric Jennings, University of Toronto, “Global, Colonial, and Transnational Paths: Thinking through Francophone Spaces in World War II and Beyond,” Tuesday, April 7, 10:30 a.m., Ev3 4408. Refreshments provided.


Examination period begins, Friday, April 10. Details.


Online examination days, Friday, April 10 and Saturday, April 11.


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