Teachers who inspire: Meet this year's recipients of Dal's University‑Wide Teaching Awards

- June 19, 2019

Pictured are five the recipients of Dal's university-wide teaching awards. Clockwise from upper-left: Matthew Schnurr, Sarah Wells, Susan Howlett, Sue Zinck and Scott Comber.
Pictured are five the recipients of Dal's university-wide teaching awards. Clockwise from upper-left: Matthew Schnurr, Sarah Wells, Susan Howlett, Sue Zinck and Scott Comber.

The Dalhousie student experience is brought to life by outstanding teachers from across the university: faculty members, TAs, instructors, grad students, supervisors and more.

And each year, Dalhousie celebrates some of its most outstanding teachers with its university-wide teaching awards. The awards recognize teaching excellence and innovation, and the contributions teachers make to Dal’s leadership in higher education.

The awards will be presented at the Dalhousie Legacy Awards on Wednesday, June 19. Look for detailed stories on some of the recipients on Dal News this fall.

Dalhousie Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Teaching

Matthew Schnurr, International Development Studies

Dr. Schnurr, associate professor in the Department of International Development studies, is this year’s recipient of Dal’s top institutional award for teaching. The honour recognizes the interdisciplinary reach of Dr. Schnurr’s educational leadership in simulation-based learning. Through the establishment of an Atlantic Canada community of practice, facilitated by the frequently accessed Simulations and Student Learning Website, he has created an online hub for faculty, educational developers and graduate students. He also improved teaching through spearheading the creation of Dalhousie’s guidelines on research related to the scholarship of teaching and learning, an initiative aligned with his own evidence-based assessment of the impact of his teaching and learning initiatives.

Academic Innovation Award

Sarah Wells, Medical Sciences Program

Dr. Wells, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science and the School of Biomedical Engineering, is being recognized for her unique case-based capstone course, SCIE 4005, in Medical Sciences. The course successfully extends, integrates and authenticates learning from the undergraduate program by bringing together divergent perspectives and broad areas of knowledge, with students analyzing topical medical issues from a variety of angles and directions through lectures and small group presentations. Students also gain exposure to real-world scenarios and clinical experts through collaboration with the Faculty of Medicine, affording them a unique and unprecedented experience in an undergraduate Science program.

Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision

Susan Howlett, Department of Pharmacology

A strong advocate and role model for all, but especially for women in science, Dr. Howlett, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, is well-respected for her ability to provide a supportive, creative and fulfilling research environment for her students while at the same time coaching and mentoring them to excel in a highly competitive research environment. A former graduate student described it this way: “She consistency exhibits genuine care for individual students’ careers and their growth as scientists,” while another described her as “the epitome of excellence in trainee supervision and mentorship.” Dr. Howlett’s support for others extends beyond her own lab. When a close colleague became critically ill, she stepped in to successfully support his students to complete their studies, and then created the Greg Ferrier Award to recognize and honour his work. This devotion and recognition touched students and colleagues alike, making a strong impact on their own views of student supervision.

Early Career Faculty Award of Excellence for Teaching

Scott Comber, Rowe School of Business

This award is presented to early career faculty with between three and ten years of teaching experience in their current role. Dr. Comber, a University Teaching Fellow and faculty member in the Rowe School of Business, is being recognized for his ongoing effort in offering students a meaningful learning experience. His deep commitment to teaching and learning is inspiring, as is his passion to share his experience with others — not just with students but also colleagues and the wider community. His enthusiasm is contagious and has made a difference in the lives of so many people at Dalhousie.

Award for Excellence in Education for Diversity

Sue Zinck, Department of Psychiatry

The care of trans and gender-diverse youth is a priority area in health care. Yet, because most physicians and primary care providers consider this a specialty area, few have the required knowledge to care for this historically underserved population. Dr. Zinck, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry, has been educating physicians from across the province to understand the incredible resilience of these youth and families despite the institutional stigma, discrimination and waitlists they currently face. The impact of Dr. Zinck’s work is profound: through student mentorship and physician education, she has passionately contributed to the overall health and well-being of trans and gender-diverse youth and their families from across the province and beyond.

Contract and Limited-Term Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching

Roderick Chisholm, Chemistry

Dr. Chisholm, an instructor in the Department of Chemistry, emphasizes the importance of group cohesiveness where students learn how to work synergistically to achieve a common goal while making sure that individual accountability is inescapable. He considers students’ failure as an opportunity to learn about how to turn trying times into teaching moments — an approach that is paramount to ensure confidence and character are being fostered in future scientists and lab technicians. He challenges his students to venture into the unknown.

Sessional and Part-Time Instructor Award for Excellence in Teaching

Samantha Cukier, Health Sciences
Mark Wall, Chemistry

Dr. Cukier’s lengthy connection with Dalhousie is through part-time teaching that has been exclusively online. She developed several online courses for the School of Health Sciences and demonstrates strong student engagement in each course. Her assignments are designed to spark interest in students, often grounding them in the real world. Her use of online tools, such as rubrics, multimedia and discussion boards, was noted as being particularly helpful to her students.

Dr. Wall’s deep commitment to student learning shines through in his role as a first-year Chemistry lab instructor. He attends all the related lectures of his colleagues to align his work in the lab with theirs, resulting in significant improvements in the quality of teaching. He seeks self-improvement through Continuing Education courses, and has made effective use of technology to tackle challenges of class size and complexity in first-year Chemistry.

President’s Graduate Teaching Assistant Award

Asmita Sodhi, Mathematics and Statistics
Landon Getz, Microbiology and Immunology
Michael Beh, Chemistry, Faculty of Science

Asmita Sodhi has demonstrated all-around engagement in her teaching and has taken an active role in building her teaching credentials. She has been heavily involved in outreach activities with her department through her work with NS Math Circles and the Math Challenge Club. Her students think highly of her organization and the impact she has had on their learning.

Landon Getz has engaged in innovative and inclusive teaching practices while pursuing his PhD. Having served as a TA in both Microbiology and Chemistry, he has also supervised honours students, helped to develop learning materials, made contributions to professional development training for Resource Centre Assistants and served as a mentor to other graduate and undergraduate students.

Michael Beh has served as a lab instructor for several years, not only engaging in the Certificate for University Teaching and Learning but also contributing to Centre for Learning and Teaching workshops. His contributions include teaching activities that have had an impact on undergraduate and graduate students, fellow TAs, high school students, and the general public. He also contributed to community teaching in an innovative way through a Dal 200 event, presenting a chemistry lecture as it would have been 150 years ago.


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