OTTAWA, Ontario - The winner of the Canadian Mathematical Society's second Excellence in Teaching Award is Dr. Philip Loewen, Professor of Mathematics at the University of British Columbia (UBC). The award will be presented at the Society's 2005 Summer Meeting in Waterloo (June 4 - 6).
Philip Loewen has an incredible record in teaching over many years, resulting in an enormous positive influence on his faculty colleagues, his postdoctoral fellows and graduate students and, most of all, on his undergraduate students.
Loewen's students paint a portrait of a teacher who gives exceedingly clear lectures, motivates students to think deeply and is intensely dedicated to encouraging students to work hard and appreciate the value of Mathematics. Philip Loewen is consistently precise, rigorous, well-organized and richly motivated in his lectures. At the same time he is a magician with words, concepts, ideas and specific topics. His students acknowledge that he is very demanding, requiring that they understand the mathematical concepts and learn how to apply them to practical problems. His lectures are as highly appreciated by the students of the Honours program in Mathematics as by the engineering students. The students' comments include: "his ability to weave additional layers of knowledge into his mathematical tapestry", "He showed us the beauty of maths", "He teaches with vivid descriptions... which come from his enthusiasm for and love of math."
Loewen won UBC's prestigious Killam Teaching Prize in Science for 1999-2000. In autumn 2004, the first year he became eligible again for the competition, his students spontaneously nominated him. The students also report that "Dr. Loewen makes himself readily available to help any who will come to his door. "He has the ability to make a student feel important and empowered in an environment where many undergraduates begin to doubt themselves." Philip Loewen has extensive online resources for his students, including detailed full lecture notes in PDF format. His web notes often contain extra enriching material not covered in the lectures.
Philip Loewen is very involved in promoting high-quality instruction at the largest possible scale: late each summer, he runs an orientation session for mathematics instructors new to UBC. The session brings the newcomers together with senior faculty to describe and discuss some of the mechanics and expectations of teaching at UBC.
Philip Loewen has been active in mathematics education at all levels, from consultation on the secondary school curriculum in British Columbia to supervision of postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows. He is an active member of the BC Association of Mathematics Teachers (BCAMT) and, until July 2004, he served as a PostSecondary Representative on the Executive of the BCAMT. In 1999-2001 he was involved with the Pacific Institute for Mathematical Sciences Elementary Grades Mathematics Contest. He often volunteers to help grade papers for the Euclid Mathematics Contest and is involved in issues of Mathematics curriculum development for Grades 11 and 12 with the BC Ministry of Education. He co-chaired a working group on the preparation for university engineering and science courses at the 2003 Canada School Mathematics Forum. He has chaired the Department's Curriculum Committee since 1999 and was the Department Co-op Program Co-ordinator from 1996 to 2002.
Philip Loewen obtained his B.Sc. in Mathematics (Honours) in 1981 from the University of Alberta and then his M.Sc. and Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in 1983 and 1986, respectively. After completing a NSERC-sponsored postdoctoral fellowship at Centre de Recherches Mathématiques in Montreal and Imperial College of Science and Technology in London, UK, he joined the University of British Columbia in 1987. Throughout his career Philip Loewen has been an active researcher. In addition to his many research publications, he has written an outstanding advanced textbook on Optimal Control.
Founded in 1945, the Canadian Mathematical Society is the main national organization whose goal is to promote and advance the discovery, learning, and application of mathematics. The Society's activities cover the whole spectrum of mathematics: scientific meetings and publishing of research material, education at all levels, popularization of mathematics. The education activities include competitions, mathematics camps in all provinces, posters for students, meetings, etc. The CMS organizes national Fora in mathematical education. For more details: (www.cms.math.ca).
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