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Clare Hasenkampf named one of Canada's prestigious 3M National Teaching Fellows

3M NATIONAL TEACHING FELLOWSHIP: Biology professor Clare Hasenkampf (pictured far right) is one of 10 Canadian educators to win a national fellowship. (Photo by Ken Jones.)

by Eleni Kanavas

Biology professor Clare Hasenkampf of the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) is one of 10 educators from across Canada to win a 3M National Teaching Fellowship this year.

Hasenkampf is the director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning at UTSC and has been recognized for excellence in teaching by 3M Canada and the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Now in its 25th year, the fellowship celebrates exceptional achievements and contributions by teacher-scholars and is considered one of the most prestigious teaching and leadership awards in Canada. The fellowship was established in 1986 through the generosity of 3M Canada and the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE), a national association of academics interested in the improvement of teaching and learning at post-secondary institutions.

“I’m thrilled and humbled to receive this very prestigious award,” Hasenkampf said. “I’m truly honoured to have been nominated and selected among so many excellent educators in the country.”

Each recipient receives an STLHE lifetime membership and the winners are announced and featured in a special university undergraduate student issue of Maclean’s magazine on March 11. The fellowship is open to all individuals currently teaching at a Canadian university and recipients are nominated by colleagues and/or students. Click here for details.

“Professor Hasenkampf is one of this university’s outstanding educators,” said Professor Rick Halpern, dean and vice-principal (academic) at the University of Toronto Scarborough. “Throughout her career she has brought energy and dedication to her role as a teacher, and has inspired countless young students to make scientific discovery their life passion. Her 3M National Teaching Fellowship is well deserved and demonstrates the high value our faculty place on teaching here at UTSC. “

Hasenkampf is no stranger to teaching awards. Last year she was named a top ten finalist for TVO’s Best Lecturer competition and in 2008, she was named the recipient of a University of Toronto President’s Teaching Award. As well, she received a Leadership in Faculty Teaching (LIFT) award in 2007 from the province of Ontario in recognition of her teaching excellence.

Since joining the faculty of biological sciences at U of T Scarborough in 1990, Hasenkampf has earned high praise from students in her first-year introductory biology lectures and third-year genetics course.

“I want students to think of themselves as scientists in training,” she says. “Even though they are not all going to pursue science as a profession, I want our students to be science-literate citizens capable of evaluating science and aware of the issues in the news.”

In 2003, she helped to launch a co-op program in cell and molecular biology to give talented science students work experience that provides a head start on their careers before graduation. She was also one of the founding creators of the Science Engagement Centre, which helps students enrich their science education via team research projects or what is called service learning. Service learning enables students to integrate their discipline-based knowledge and skills with service to their community and to reflect critically on their learning.

“I’m glad to be part of the academic community at U of T Scarborough because one of our strategic priorities is experiential learning which fits well with my philosophy and helps provide motivation for both faculty and students to succeed,” Hasenkampf said.

Her philosophy to teaching, she explains, is to have a clear sense of discovery, wonderment and amazement about science and to make course material fun. “As a teacher, you have to motivate students about what they are learning and you have to make sure they see the relevance of the material and how it relates to the world around them,” Hasenkampf said.

As the Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning since 2008, Hasenkampf has observed increased interest and attention to teaching techniques with more instructors and teaching assistants seeking formal training. She feels grateful that she has the opportunity to improve her own teaching as she develops programming to help other instructors.

Asked what makes a good teacher, “I’m a good listener,” she replies. “I’m always listening for what the students are having trouble with in class and the questions they are asking.”

As a biologist specializing in genetics, Hasenkampf examines the structure and function of plant chromosomes. Subjects of her research are: meiosis (part of the process of sexual reproduction), chromosome structure and function, DNA replication, and genome evolution. She probes gene function and uses DNA and protein purification techniques combined with immuno-cytochemistry, light and electron microscopy and mutant analysis on plants. She is a full member of the graduate program in Cell and Systems Biology. As well, her lab is an active member of the Plant Cellular and Molecular Processes (PCMP) group at U of T Scarborough, which holds regular discussions on topics related to plant growth, development, reproduction and response to stress.

For more information about Professor Clare Hasenkampf and the Centre for Teaching and Learning at UTSC, visit: and

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