OUSA's 2019 Teaching Excellence Award Recipients

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance Teaching Excellence Award recognizes educators who excel at unlocking the potential of Ontario’s young people. Successfully engaging individuals in the learning experience depend on an instructor's ability to spark students' curiosity and desire to learn. It is our pleasure to give these remarkable professionals the recognition they deserve. A good textbook and a high-tech classroom are not enough to provide quality education. An excellent instructor will be able to engage their students in the process of learning and discovery and help them develop the critical skills that form the foundation of a robust education. With this in mind, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance annually presents its teaching awards to professors from each of our member campuses who have taken this role to heart, and who have been selected by their students as examples of teaching excellence.

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019 OUSA Teaching Excellence Awards! 


Dr. Laura Cousens - Brock University

Dr. Laura Cousens is an associate professor in the Department of Sports Management at Brock University. Dr. Cousens research has evolved from a focus on network forms of organization in the areas of community sport, sport councils and sport development to enhance our understanding of the role of sport development in communities in Canada and abroad, and inter-organizational relationships. Her passion for academia extends well beyond the classroom as she is widely known to be dedicated to providing all of her students with the resources and support needed to succeed within her courses. Dr. Cousens genuine interest in the excellence of her students continues to be highly regarded across Brock University and in the same way she continues to inspire her students, we hope that the sentiments of tonight’s recognition has a positive influence among her colleagues. The Brock University Students’ Union is exceedingly delighted to distinguish Dr. Laura Cousens with this year’s OUSA’s Teaching Excellence Award.

Dr. Sara Burke - Laurentian University

Sara Burke is an associate professor in the Department of History, and Vice-Dean for the Faculty of Arts at Laurentian University. She served as Department Chair of History from 2005 to 2012, and was President of the Canadian History of Education Association from 2006 to 2008. Her research focuses on gender in higher education, and her current project explores the history of women at coeducational universities in Canada. Sara’s students have expressed that her teaching style goes above and beyond what is expected in terms of leadership, engagement, and accommodation. Sara adds interactive elements to course content with hands-on exercises, guest speakers, and field trips. The SGA would like to thank Sara for her contribution to our academic community, and for the welcoming environment she creates that allows students to thrive.

Dr. Nikol Piskuric - McMaster University

Dr. Piskuric is an assistant professor in the school of interdisciplinary science and the department of psychology, neuroscience, and behaviour. She has provided a valuable experiential learning opportunity to students while bringing the gap between the Hamilton and McMaster communities by embedded a local community engagement project into her course LIFESCI 3BB3: Neurobiology of Disease. By working with students, the McMaster Student Union’s Student Health Education Centre, the Student Wellness Centre, and Hamilton Opioid Prevention to run a harm-reduction campaign and needs assessment at McMaster, Dr. Piskuric has demonstrated a commitment to building safer and healthier campuses. Finally, Dr. Piskuric has also developed modules on Descriptive and Inferential Statistics as part of an Online course through the eCampus Ontario Online Initiative, creating accessible and affordable learning materials for students.

Dr. Ronald Easteal - Queen's University

Ronald Easteal is an Associate Professor in Anatomy & Cell Biology has been teaching anatomy at Queen's since 1975. He has introduced many innovative methods in educating students in the field of Anatomical Sciences and has received wonderful praise from his students. Easteal recently received the Alma Mater Society Frank Knox Award for the Winter of 2019 for his excellence in teaching. Ronald Easteal constantly receives incredibly strong feedback from his students, and deserves to be recognized for his contributions to the teaching and learning community at Queen's University.

Daniel Travers - Trent University Durham

Daniel Travers, a history professor at Trent University, can only be described as passionate, dedicated and accessible for his students. Daniel connects with his students inside and outside the classroom, nerd-ing-out about history on class topics and beyond. Although Daniel marks a little more difficult than others, his feedback is honest and abundant. Daniel makes use of technology in the classroom, enabling all students to access course material equally. His students are excited and proud to be apart of his courses, claiming his course readings to be dynamic, something you don’t hear too often in a history class. Daniel respects and treats his students equally, structuring his class time as a large seminar instead of a lecture. You can see Daniel wants to mutually learn and grow his knowledge and his students. It is our honor to recognize Daniel Travers for the OUSA teaching award for his dedication and hard work within the history department and the community of Trent University.

Dr. Brenda Yasie Lee - University of Waterloo

Dr. Brenda Yasie Lee is a research associate in the Nanoscale Biophysics Group run by Prof. Zoya Leonenko at the University of Waterloo. Dr. Lee’s field of study is in membrane biophysics, and she uses nanotechnology tools to study lipid-protein interactions related to diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease and pneumonia. She is an expert in atomic force microscopy and her graduate work involved the investigation of antimicrobial peptide daptomycin on different model membranes. Dr. Lee’s teaching experience ranges from teaching courses in biophysics and special topics in medical biophysics, as well as serving as an in-demand instructor for calculus courses in both architectural, mechanical and chemical engineering, teaching over 700 students in 2018. Dr. Lee excels in a traditional lecture style setting, always going the extra mile for student success, creating a question-friendly atmosphere, putting together study sessions and in-depth notes for students. Dr. Lee also goes the extra mile to be available for students, organizing not only traditional office hours, but also having availability for office hours through Skype and driving into campus for specially booked appointments if necessary. Finally, Dr. Lee is the founder, president, and CEO of Tutoring Beyond Borders, a registered Canadian charity providing free tutoring to over 1000 high school students in Waterloo Region, and engaging over 500 post-secondary students as tutors, promoting the importance of quality teaching and dedication to the community not just at the University of Waterloo but beyond. Dr. Lee's student nominators said "Dr. Lee has gone above and beyond to help her students succeed" and "She needs to be recognized for how amazing she is."

Mark Robert Baker - Western University

Mark Robert Baker was born and raised in Peterborough, Ontario. He came to Western as an undergraduate, pursuing a dual degree in Physics and Applied Mathematics. After which, he decided to continue at Western for his graduate studies in Physics. It was here his career as a teacher began, instructing first year physics and engineering tutorials to undergraduates. Experience from these tutorials helped him secure mathematics teaching positions at Seneca College, and back at Western shortly after, where he has taught various courses in physics and calculus ever since. Inspiring students to care for and believe in what they are learning is something Baker cherishes and hopes to continue doing for years to come. This award, as with all awards, is a product of the support of many people. Baker cannot say enough positive things about the support from his family, department and research group in allowing him to pursue his dream over the past several years. He will never stop doing what he can to keep improving and be the best teacher he can be.

Dr. Deanna Yerichuk - Wilfrid Laurier University

Dr. Deanna Yerichuk is part of Wilfrid Laurier University’s Faculty of Music. She has been instrumental in the creation of Canada’s first and only Bachelor of Community Music Program at Laurier. Dr. Yerichuk completed her Bachelor degree at the University of Alberta and went on to complete her Masters and PhD at the University of Toronto, focussing on music education. Much of Dr. Yerichuk’s work and research focuses on the intersection of music, community engagement, and social change while focussing on questions of equity and inclusion in music. Dr. Yerichuk provides her students with clear course outcomes, while giving her students the flexibility to engage with course material in ways that suit their unique learning styles and skill sets. Dr. Yerichuk’s students praise her for her ability to create an engaging and inclusive learning environment, while fostering a sense of community in the classroom. Dr. Yerichuk makes students feel heard, while offering the support to help her students reach their full potential at Laurier.

To view photos from the evening, please visit our Facebook album here.