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National teaching honour for Grenfell prof

By Pamela Gill | March 23, 2007

A chemistry professor at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College has been honoured with a major national award. Dr. Geoffrey Rayner-Canham, professor of chemistry in Grenfell's environmental science program, has been named as one the 2007 honorees of the 3M National Teaching Fellowships.

Over the past 30 years, Dr. Rayner-Canham has promoted science to countless students in Newfoundland and Labrador. He has become one of the most sought-after experts at Grenfell.

Through his Chemistry is Everywhere! show, he has reached thousands of students and teachers, including those in isolated communities in Labrador that can be reached only by plane or coastal boat.

Most recently, he received a federal government grant of $54,000 for his Chemistry is Everywhere! Show. The grant is from the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) as part of their PromoScience Program.  The funds will enable Dr. Rayner-Canham to continue with and expand his outreach activities to schools in remote communities for the next three years.

“Part of the new grant,” said Dr. Rayner-Canham, “is to enable me to charter a small plane for my student assistant and myself to do the shows at schools we have been unable to visit before. This way, we can do the show at one school in the morning and then fly to another community and do a show there in the afternoon, and so on. It was impossible to do that sort of scheduling using the regular airlines.”

Dr. Rayner-Canham has also worked extensively on communicating chemistry through high school curriculum development, school textbooks and courses for non-scientists.

The 3M National Teaching Fellowships are co-ordinated by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

They’re considered Canada’s most prestigious teaching award. The fellowships are open to Canadian university teachers from all disciplines and have been awarded since 1986.

Up to 10 fellowships are presented each year to recognize both teaching excellence and educational leadership. Dr. Rayner-Canham is the second Grenfell recipient of the prestigious award. Dr. Georg Gunther, professor of mathematics, also received the 3M award in 2005.

This is the seventh time that faculty of Memorial University have been honoured with this award; the other recipients were Dr. Georg Gunther in 2005, Dr. Andrea Rose in 2004, Dr. Alex Faseruk in 2003, Professor Shane O’Dea in 2002, Dr. Michael Collins in 1998 and Dr. Penny Hansen in 1990.


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