Chemistry Scores Teaching Hat Trick

posted 13 May 2010

The Science Students Association (SSA) announced the winners of the SSA Teacher Recognition awards at this year's Grand Finale, and for 2009/10 all three awards went to faculty members in the Department of Chemistry.

The SSA created the annual awards to honour Science faculty members for exemplary teaching. The award is a student-nominated award and one faculty member is selected for each of the 1000 and 2000 level courses and another for the 3000/4000 level courses. The faculty member from each category with the most nominations will be the award recipient. The winners for this year are: 1000 level - Elena Smirnova, 2000 level, Horace Luong and 3000/4000 level - Sean McKenna.

We asked each of the faculty members what it is they enjoy about teaching, and this is what they said:

"You asked why I love teaching. Teaching is my passion. When I was little, other children wanted to become firefighters or ballerinas when they grew up while I actually wanted to be an educator. Teaching is also in my genes: both my mother and grandmother were French-language professors. My answer to your question is: I have a natural chemistry with teaching chemistry."

Elena Smirnova teaches CHEM 1300 and CHEM 2470 and is the winner of the 1000 level SSA Teacher Recognition Award.  Smirnova also won the same award in 2004/05.

"I frequently reflect on an ancient Chinese proverb by Lao-Tzu that my teachers shared with me for teaching motivation, 'the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.'  Being a student not that long ago, I remember what it is like feeling confused and frustrated when learning material.  As an instructor, I enjoy the immediate gratification of knowing that I can help students overcome their learning barriers and begin that single step in their educational journey."

Horace Luong teaches CHEM 1320 a component of CHEM 4600 and manages the laboratories for CHEM 1320 CHEM 2210 CHEM 2220 and is the winner of the 2000 level SSA Teacher Recognition Award.


"The aspect of teaching that I enjoy most is the direct interactions with students during lectures. Students bring varied backgrounds and novel perspectives to the material that we are investigating, and this challenge forces me to be constantly re-evaluating my teaching approaches and viewpoint on the material."

Sean McKenna teaches CHEM 2360/MBIO 2360 and CHEM 4620 and is the winner of the 3000/4000 SSA Teacher Recognition Award.