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Peter Hollmann

SFU Excellence in Teaching Award, 2014

Department of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Science

This post is reprinted from the SFU News blog. Read the original post here.

It was 2001 and Peter Hollmann had just completed his Master of Science at Simon Fraser University.

He was all set for a career as a secondary school biology teacher. It was the natural progression for Hollmann, who often found himself teaching others and had spent multiple semesters as a teaching assistant.

But an unsuccessful application to SFU’s teaching program caused him to briefly tap on the brakes and then change direction.

Hollmann instead found a job as a laboratory technician and instructional assistant at a local college. The hands-on experience he had gained as a student made him an ideal candidate.   

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, Hollmann is a lecturer in SFU’s Biological Sciences department and is being recognized with a 2014 SFU Excellence in Teaching Award.

“I am elated to be recognized by my students and colleagues for my teaching abilities,” he says. “I knew I had a great job when I was commuting over three hours a day from Hope to go to work.”

One nominator says the award is a testament to Hollmann’s patience, understanding and helpfulness, as well as his ability to simplify complex concepts and procedures.

“He really has a talent for engaging students in activities and lessons that require the same problem-solving and critical-thinking skills that researchers use every day, and he thereby generates genuine interest and learning from all of his students,” the nominator says.

Hollmann says that sums up his teaching philosophy—an emphasis on hands-on experience over passive observations because of what it did for him.

“I want the students to be able to say they have this skill and here’s where I used it,” he says.  

In the end, says Hollmann, teaching is all about having fun and a great experience with the students.

“Getting them excited and transferring that excitement and passion is fun for me.”