OUSA's 2020 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 depends 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.


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. 


In light of COVID-19, OUSA has decided to postpone our annual Partners in Higher Education Dinner on April 9th, 2020.
Although we are saddened to postpone this event, we want to prioritize the health of our event attendees and encourage social distancing as recommended by public health officials. To read more how our member institutions are handling the circumstances, visit ousa.ca/covid19. Historically, we invite recipients to honour them at OUSA's Partners in Higher Education Dinner. That being said we are still hoping to highlight our recipients. 

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2020 OUSA Teaching Excellence Awards!



Queen's University - Dr. Ryan Martin

Professor Martin is a fellow Queen's alumni and did his own studies at Queen's. (BScH-2003, MSc-2006, PhD-2009). Being a Queen's student himself for 10 years, it has motivated him to be a strong educator with careful attention to the needs of his students. After becoming a professor at Queen's in September of 2015, Professor Martin has done extensive research in 
particle astrophysics, involving the development of detectors and machine learning technologies to better understand neutrinos and dark matter.

In addition to this, Professor Martin is a strong advocate of open access to education and has developed several projects along those lines. Notably, he has worked with students to develop a free introductory textbook in physics. He has also worked with students to develop Qlicker, and an in-class response system that is free and available to every student at Queen's. Finally, he has also worked with students to develop QExpy, a python module to facilitate data analysis in undergraduate physics labs. 

The students of Queen's are greatly appreciative of Professor Martin's dedication to the student experience, and are honoured to have him as an educator at our institution.

Brock University - Dr. Hevina Dashwood

Dr. Hevina Dashwood is adored by her students for being engaging, caring and a an immensely knowledgeable professor. Dr. Dashwood’s teaching interests include private global governance, international political economy, international development, and Canadian foreign policy, with a focus on Canada’s relations with the Global South. Dr. Dashwood’s current research program encompasses natural resource governance in the extractive sector, with a focus on Canadian and global corporate social responsibility initiatives involving multiple stakeholders Dr. Dashwood’s recent research focused on multi-stakeholder partnerships in mining-affected communities in West Africa, and her new collaborative research project looks at the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and its implementation at the local community level in Ghana and Nigeria.

A two time OUSA Excellence in Teaching Award Winner, Dr. Dashwood’s genuine interest in the excellence of her students continues to be highly regarded across Brock University and in the way she continues to inspire her students. The Brock University Students’ Union is exceedingly delighted to distinguish Dr. Hevina Dashwood with this year’s OUSA Teaching Excellence Award.

Laurentian University - Dr. Diana luele-Colilli

Dr. Iuele-Colilli is a full-professor and researcher at Laurentian University specializing in Italian-Canadian studies. She is also the current chairperson of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. Her dedication to her students, the university, and the local community makes her beloved by many. Dr. luele-Colilli is a kind, compassionate, and dedicated teacher who always dedicates her time to help her students and consistently goes out of her way to ensure their success. Not only is she dedicated but Dr. luele-Colilli also makes learning an interactive and exciting experience for her students. Leaving each one of her students feeling important, comfortable, and excited to learn. Dr. Iuele-Colilli has been involved in the Laurentian University community for over 30 years and has dedicated decades of commitment to her field of research. In addition to her work within the university community, Dr. Iuele-Colilli was also the first female president of the Società Caruso Club, and to date, the only elected female President of the Caruso Club. Dr. Iuele-Colilli is also the Honourary Vice Consul of Italy, covering the area of Sudbury. In this role, Dr. Iuele-Colilli represents the Government of Italy in aiding Italian citizens with their consular needs, such as passports, travel documents, and citizenship reclamation. For all that Dr. Iuele-Colilli dedicates to her work, community, and above all, her students, it is fitting that Dr. Iuele-Colilli receives the 2020 Teaching Award of Excellence. 


McMaster University - Dr. Matt Savelli

Dr. Matt Savelli is the chair of the Department of Health, Aging & Society and an assistant teaching professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences as well as the Arts and Science program at McMaster. His areas of interest include mental health, globalization and transnationalism, and history of health and illness. Described as "an amazing professor" and a "super interesting lecturer," Dr. Savelli exemplifies a special dedication to student learning.One of his students states that “Dr. Savelli is the best at facilitating productive conversations within his lectures. He listens very well to all his students – you can tell he deeply cares and prioritizes students learning over their grades”. On behalf of OUSA and the MSU Education team, we are proud to recognize Dr. Savelli as the winner of the OUSA Teaching Award for his unending dedication to teaching excellence.

McMaster University - Dr. Behrouz Bakhtiari

Dr. Behrouz Bakhtiari is an assistant professor in the Operations Management area at DeGroote, School of Business, McMaster University. His areas of interest are data analysis, statistics, business analytics and operations management. He is a strong believer in learning by doing and greatly values learning by doing. 

Described as a "caring professor", Dr. Bakhtiari places a strong emphasis on student mental health and is an advocate for accessible learning.

Trent Durham GTA - Karin Schmidlechner

Throughout Karin's 35 years in education, teacher, principal and now faculty advisor, Karin has come to appreciate that their learning path is never-ending.  They are so excited to share their curiosity and passion for the teaching and learning process with my Student Teachers as they begin their own teaching journey, and that means preparing them to be the best teachers they can be in an ever-changing world.  Each and every student in every classroom deserves to have the best teacher. Karin's classroom will reflect the 21st C classroom promoting professional and innovative learning, reflective practice, collaboration, a growth mindset, differentiated instruction/assessment, inquiry and technology-infused learning.  

The submission from Trent Durham GTA reads, 'When Karin teaches, she speaks wisely and from the heart. Her speeches always inspire me. The way she speaks in lecture, and the way she speaks to her students one-on-one, makes her radiate kindness and patience. She always supports our ideas and always voices how proud she is of our successes. She also gently expands on our ideas when we’re wrong, and she guides us to success by explaining a new perspective we could consider.' In summary, Karin is thoughtful, understanding, sweet, and so loving. She respects others and she goes out of her way to make people feel appreciated. She is also a wise, well-spoken leader. We are very lucky to have Karin lead our EDUC classes, and to be a part of Trent University


Western University - Dr. Nicole Campbell

Dr. Nicole Campbell received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Guelph in Biomedical Sciences, which is where she discovered her passion for teaching. In 2015, Dr. Campbell was hired as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology & Pharmacology at Western University. Currently, she is responsible for educating students in the Interdisciplinary Medical Sciences program, which prides itself on innovative and integrative teaching approaches. In 2017, Dr. Campbell prioritized student mental health in her courses and has since focused on designing curriculum in ways that will support a student’s personal and professional development. She believes wholeheartedly that humanity should be the focus of our education system; therefore, she invests in her students and creates a professional community within her courses. Together with her students, Dr. Campbell strives to provide individualized education that will equip students with the knowledge and compassion to be leaders in our communities.


Waterloo University - Dr. Mohammed Nassar

Dr. Mohammad Nassar is this year’s award recipient of the WUSA Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, and the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance Award for Teaching Excellence. Dr. Nassar received overwhelming support from his students endorsing his candidacy for these awards. Described as an “open and engaging lecturer,” Dr. Nassar brings the world of electrical engineering to life in his classes by using hands-on examples from around his home, preparing students for their job placements and “real-world” challenges. He is “patient, compassionate, and volunteers his free time to help his students, especially those who are struggling.” It is clear that Nassar is extremely passionate about both his subject matter and his students. He prioritizes student learning and understanding to ensure the authentic success of each individual. Dr. Nassar provides extensive notes and study packages, hosts extra review sessions with snacks, holds extended office hours, and maintains a 24/7 help line for students during the exam season. He constantly engages with his students to receive feedback on what works for them, adjusting his lectures and evaluation accordingly. Students were overwhelmed by Nassar’s ability to apply theoretical course concepts to practical, everyday problems. Dr. Nassar is an innovative teacher, a creative thinker, a passionate mentor, and fair evaluator of his students. Nassar’s clear commitment to student success and well-being, both inside and outside the classroom make him a deserving winner of this year’s awards.



Wilfrid Laurier University - Dr. Ehaab D. Abdou

Dr. Ehaab Abdou has only joined us at Wilfrid Laurier University last year, but in that brief time, he has already made a profound impact on students. Dr. Abdou’s work centres on promoting the inclusion and active participation of marginalized groups. Prior to the launching his academic career, he was active in social entrepreneurship and international development, working with organizations such as the International Development Research Centre of Canada in Cairo, and the World Bank Institute in Washington, D.C. He co-founded two Egyptian NGOs: Fat’het Kheir and Nahdet El Mahrousa, dedicated to empowering young Egyptians through social enterprises. Dr. Abdou’s work resulted in his election to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.Whether it’s engaging young people through entrepreneurship or uplifting traditionally marginalized groups and perspectives, Dr. Abdou is a changemaker, and is inspiring future generations of changemakers. Dr. Abdou prioritizes student mental health, equity, inclusion, and critical self-reflection in his classes. His students commend him for his application of theory to case-based learning, as well as the integration of field trips, guest speakers, and mentoring to enhance the academic experience. Dr. Abdou’s commitment to student success and personal growth is a tremendous benefit to the Laurier community.