- Award for Educational Leadership and Innovation (2010-11)
Trent University is pleased to announce that Dr. Andrew Vreugdenhil, an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry, has been named the 2011 recipient of the Award for Educational Leadership and Innovation.
Prof. Vreugdenhil joined the Department of Chemistry in September 2001 as a tenure-stream Assistant Professor, and upon receiving tenure in 2005 was promoted to Associate Professor. He currently holds the position of Director of the Materials Science Graduate program, a position he has held since the program began in 2007. Additionally, Prof. Vreugdenhil has been responsible for Outreach and Recruitment in the department and has been the faculty liaison to the Chemistry Undergraduate Society since 2001.
Prof. Vreugdenhil teaches in both the undergraduate Chemistry program and the graduate Materials Science graduate program. His courses include “Introductory chemistry” (a first year course), “Main group chemistry” (a third year course), “Inorganic materials chemistry” (a fourth year course), “Organometallic chemistry” (a fourth year course) and “Advanced topics in materials science” (a graduate level course).
As an inorganic materials chemist, Professor Vreugdenhil’s laboratory conducts research into hybrid polymer materials made of carbon, silicon, oxygen and nitrogen. The primary application for these materials is in the area of environmentally friendly corrosion prevention for metal surfaces although they also have interesting uses as sensors and optical materials.
“In receiving this award, Prof. Vreugdenhil is recognized for the leadership role that he has played in promoting effective pedagogy not only through value-added technology innovations, but also, and more importantly, through the various ways he has tried to provide students with the best undergraduate chemistry experience possible whether it be in is own courses, through the curriculum committee, or through sharing his experiences with faculty colleagues both within his department and within the broader instructional community,” commented Dr. Gary Boire, Trent’s Provost and Vice-President Academic.
In speaking to of Prof. Vreugdenhil’s pedagogical approach, a nominator commented: “His use of a variety of teaching styles, different course delivery methods and thought-provoking research-skill based assignments go a long way in helping students to master difficult concepts, and further cement into his courses an environment filled with active learning.”
“Further, it was apparent that his approach to pedagogy is informed by a scholarly approach to teaching,” explained Professor Richard Hurley, the Chair of the Teaching Awards Sub-committee. “His participation in national chemistry conferences, and more specifically, chemical education symposia, has further fuelled his goal of having students finish their degree balanced, well-developed scientists.”
In reference to the award’s criterion for educational leadership, one nominator explained that Prof. Vreugdenhil “has taken any opportunity to help other faculty members introduce new technology, just by having a simple conversation with them … [his] most effective way of communicating effective teaching has been by word of mouth.”
“I am extremely pleased to have been nominated and to be receiving this award. In all of my courses but especially first year chemistry, I have really enjoyed exploring new ways to engage students and share with them my enthusiasm for science in general and chemistry in particular. My own area of specialization in materials chemistry is very applications oriented and so I love seeing students make connections between what they experience in the classroom and the world around them,” said Prof. Vreugdenhil. “Being recognized in this way is very rewarding but I think it is important to point out that no innovation happens in a vacuum. Certainly in my own experience, none of the new technologies or other innovations that we've adopted here at Trent would be possible without the support of people such as Mary Jane Pilgrim from Information Technology and the dedicated people in the Instructional Development Centre and the Disabilities Services Office.”
Prof. Vreugdenhil earned a B.Sc. Honours from Queen's University and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from McGill University.