September 7, 2005
Source: Queen's University:
Tufts nets Alumni teaching award
Students praise prof for making learning fun
By MEGAN GRITTANI-LIVINGSTON
Bruce Tufts has a gift for bringing learning to life.
In recognition of his teaching skills, the popular professor in the Department of Biology has been named the 2005 recipient of the Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching. According to his nominators, graduate and undergraduate students alike praise Prof. Tufts for his accessibility, his abundant knowledge and experience and his effectiveness as a teacher.
Those qualities stem in large part from Prof. Tufts’s ability to draw from his own student experiences, first as an undergraduate and a master’s student in biology at Acadia University and later as a PhD candidate at UBC.
He remembers how several of his professors sped through lectures, leaving students with little time to think in the mad rush to write everything down. So he posts his class notes on the Internet ahead of time for students to bring to lectures.
“That makes classes more fun, and it’s something students really appreciate,” Prof. Tufts says.
Students are also grateful for his lectures on career and research opportunities that stem from the class material. He does this to show them how the subject matter of his lectures pertains to real life.
“Students talk to me [about those classes] and they say I influenced what they wanted to do [after school]. That’s the most rewarding thing about teaching –you’re not just teaching a lecture but you’re also changing someone’s life,” he says.
This year, Prof. Tufts succeeds colleague Raleigh Robertson as director of the Queen’s University Biological Station, a renowned research post and educational facility located 50 kilometres north of Kingston that attracts biology researchers from universities in Ontario, New York state and further afield.
The self-described “die-hard fish guy” is also active in fish and fisheries research, and he makes an effort to teach the world at large about the ecological issues stemming from his work – that is, when he’s not teaching undergrad lectures and seminars or supervising graduate student research or contributing to conferences and journals.
“It’s really important today for scientists to play a role in educating the public about science in general,” Prof. Tufts says. “There are a lot of issues people need to know about that influence our lives.”
The Alumni Award is presented annually to a Queen’s teacher who shows “outstanding knowledge, teaching ability, and accessibility to students,” and the recipients are given a $5,000 cash award and a commemorative statue. Prof. Tufts received his prizes at a June Convocation ceremony.