By Meranda M. Masse
Department Communications & Graduate Student (Cavagnero)
The Department of Chemistry has chosen two recipients for the James W. Taylor Excellence Teaching Award – Professor Timothy Bertram and senior instructional technology specialist Dr. Rachel Bain. Like many events in the past year, the departmental gathering to present the award looked quite different. Rather than holding a large gathering on campus, the award ceremony was held over Zoom.
Bertram began teaching at The University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015, and states that his teaching philosophy entails teaching at a pace that students can learn from and using examples that they care about. Bertram said that some of his favorite memories teaching are in small group discussions during office hours, commenting on seeing concepts crystalize for his students as they make connections between topics.
When asked about how the pandemic has altered his teaching approach, he mainly commented on how bringing the classroom to a virtual setting is critical.
“I have attempted to recreate the classroom environment using a tablet to hand write my lecture notes,” he said, explaining that this allows for the students to be more engaged in the material, but also allows them to look back on notes from previous lectures.
While Bain is not a teacher in the typical sense, she plays a vital role in making teaching possible for her colleagues by serving in instructional technology.
When instruction switched to a mostly remote setting in March of 2019, Bain commented on how inspiring it was to see, “such a great team effort toward making teaching and learning chemistry better.”
Bain doesn’t have a teaching philosophy, but instead she called it a “helping philosophy,” where she commented on how important it is for her to meet everyone where they are and come up with the best technological solution for their needs. She went on to say that she is happiest working behind the scenes, but this award truly means a lot to her.
Also recognized at this event were the recipients of the Outstanding Chemistry Teaching Assistant Awards- Ray Czerwinski, Meghan Campbell, Kimberly DeGlopper, Madison Fellows, Matt Genzink, Matt Hautzinger, Amber Lim, Jericha Mill, Houston Smith and Natalia Spitha.