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Mathieu Blanchette wins Leo Yaffe Teaching Award

At the May 29th convocation ceremony, Mathieu Blanchette was awarded the Faculty of Science's Leo Yaffe Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching.

Mathieu Blanchette

Martin Grant, dean of the faculty, gave the following speech describing Blanchette's remarkable accomplishments as a teacher and researcher:

Madame Principal and Vice-Chancellor, the Leo Yaffe Award for excellence in teaching honours professors who have an outstanding impact on undergraduate education in the Faculty of Science. Mathieu Blanchette is such a professor.

Professor Blanchette joined the School of Computer Science in 2003 after a post doctoral fellowship at the University of California. He was immediately thrown into the “deep end”, being asked to fill the shoes of a former Leo Yaffe Awardee and teach the main introductory computer science course, COMP 250. Mathieu was more than up to the challenge, obtaining a remarkable evaluation of 4.7 on 5. Since then he has never received a rating of less than 4.6 on 5 for COMP 250 or any other course that he has taught, and on two occasions has received a perfect score of 5 on 5. The reasons for these extraordinary performances are evident from the comments of his students and I quote “Professor Blanchette should serve as a model to other instructors." “Thanks to his inspiration, I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in bioinformatics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology” and finally, “His passion for the subject is contagious... we could feel the incredible energy radiating from him."

In addition to being an outstanding teacher, Professor Blanchette is also an outstanding scientist. In 2006 he received international recognition for his research, winning the Overton prize of the Society of Computational Biology, and followed this up last year with a prestigious Alfred P. Sloan research fellowship. Mathieu is an example of what we aspire to in the Faculty of Science: our top teachers are top researchers, our top researchers are top teachers. He is clearly a teacher-scholar of the very highest calibre and a most worthy recipient of the honour that you are about to bestow on him. Madame Principal and Vice-Chancellor, on behalf of the Faculty of Science, I am very proud to present Professor Mathieu Blanchette, the winner of the Leo Yaffe Award for 2008.