President’s awards celebrate excellence in teaching and learning

Headshots of 3 smiling people

The 2024 President’s Awards for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning have been awarded to (left to right), Bruce Wainman, Nikol Piskuric and Sean Park.

Three exceptional faculty members are the recipients of the 2024 President’s Awards for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning, the highest distinction for teaching excellence a faculty member can receive at McMaster.

“This is a critically important award as it demonstrates the tremendous value, we as an institution, place on excellence in teaching and learning,” says McMaster President David Farrar.

“This year’s recipients are among our university’s most innovative and committed educators and I congratulate them on this outstanding achievement.”

Award recipients are nominated by peers, campus leaders or partners within the campus community, and nominations are evaluated by a selection committee appointed by the president. The accomplishments of the award recipients are highlighted during convocation celebrations.

Meet this year’s recipients through excerpts from their citations:

Sean Park | Assistant Professor in the Division of Education and Innovation, Department of Medicine

circular headshot of Sean ParkAlso an instructor in the Integrated Biomedical Engineering and Health Sciences program, the Co-Director of the Health Improvement and Faculty Innovation Leadership Program within the Health Leadership Academy, Park has created a host of new experiential, project-based courses in the field of design thinking.

He has poured a remarkable amount of creative effort into activities, games, tools, course mentors, assignments, and projects that wake-up students’ fullest range of human capabilities for reimagining and redesigning themselves and the world.

He takes a community-centered approach that helps students build trusting, safe teams and to develop the respectful, creative confidence needed to work with community members in exploring wicked challenges.

“Without a doubt, Dr. Park ignited my curiosity and passion for human-centric design,” writes one former student. “He approaches teaching with a remarkable ability to connect with each of us, showing empathy and presence in every interaction.”

Nikol Piskuric | Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour (PNB)

circular headshot of Nikol PiskuricAs her colleagues attest, Piskuric is “an exceptional teacher, utterly devoted to her students, their learning, and their university experience. She is also a generous mentor to countless junior teaching faculty members, providing feedback on their teaching and sharing opportunities to grow and connect with communities of practice.”

Piskuric has championed experiential and community-engaged teaching methods, inspiring her peers to follow suit using her courses and assignments as a model. She has also demonstrated her commitment to continuously improving in her teaching practice, soliciting and applying feedback from students and her peers, engaging in professional development activities, and conducting research on teaching and learning.

Her teaching excellence has also been recognized by the McMaster Student Union and the Ontario University Student Alliance.

A former student writes: “Her commitment to transdisciplinary teaching methods, compassion towards her students, and ability to weave engrossing narratives throughout her course materials make her an exceptional educator and leader in the PNB community. I am immensely grateful for the impact she has had on my education and personal growth.”

Bruce Wainman | Professor, Department of Pathology and an Associate Member and Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Surgery and Obstetrics and Gynecology

circular headshot of Bruce WainmanAlso the director of the Education Program in Anatomy and the director of the Surgical Skills Laboratory, Wainman has displayed an exceptional ability to engage students, fostering a dynamic and inclusive learning environment.

Through innovative teaching methods, including incorporating AI and virtual reality learning into curriculum at all levels, he has imparted knowledge and inspired a genuine passion for learning anatomy among students. He has played a pivotal role in advancing education through innovations in evaluation and assessment using technology, and he has been invited to speak about these methodologies.

Wainman’s dedication to advancing education through research has also provided valuable insights that elevate our institution’s teaching practices. His research outputs have garnered recognition within the academic community and beyond. Through these scholarly contributions, he has demonstrated unwavering commitment to not only excelling in the classroom but also pushing the boundaries of educational knowledge.

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