Terry Heaps Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

Good teaching is vital to the mission of a good university. Knowledge produced by countless researchers would be of little use if it were not communicated effectively to each new generation of students. Every year, the Department of Economics brings on a brilliant group of teaching assistants who are vital to supporting our students and faculty. The Terry Heaps Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award recognizes those who have distinguished themselves.

2024: Samuel Basoah

After completing his studies at the University of Ghana as the Best Economics Student for two consecutive years, Samuel Basoah joined the master's program in Economics at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in 2019. He completed his MA program with distinction within a year and is currently pursuing his doctoral degree. 

Over the past three years, Samuel has served as a Teaching Assistant for various courses, including international finance, money and banking, development economics, international trade, public economics, and both macroeconomics and microeconomics. Samuel plays a pivotal role in the department’s study nights and mentorship programs. As a Mentor/Head TA, he has successfully mentored five new Teaching Assistants in the department.

Research Interests:

Samuel’s research interests span a broad range of fields, including macroeconomics, international finance, money and banking and applied econometrics. He is also passionate about labor and economics of education. His current research focuses on understanding central banks' reserve management in the context of sovereign default risk.

Teaching Philosophy:

Samuel’s teaching philosophy is centered on creating an inclusive, interactive, and student-centered learning environment. He believes that students learn most effectively when they are actively engaged and feel respected, regardless of their gender, race, or ethnicity. To foster this environment, he employs interactive teaching methods such as group discussions, real-world data analysis, and experiential learning activities. These methods not only enhance student engagement but also help develop essential skills in communication, teamwork, analysis, and critical thinking.

What's Next:

Moving forward, Samuel is excited to continue advancing his research and teaching practices. He plans to delve deeper into the economic analysis of central banks' reserve management in sovereign default settings. Additionally, he aims to further develop his interactive teaching methods and mentorship programs, ensuring that both his students and mentees have the resources and support they need to succeed.

Past winners

2023: Finn (Zhifeng) Sun

Finn (Zhifeng) Sun joined the SFU Department of Economics as a PhD student in 2018. His field of interests are development and cultural economics. He has taught ECON 325: Industrial Organization as an instructor and has worked as a TA in a variety of courses. He strives to create a sense of community in the classroom and an environment where students feel comfortable, engaged, and supported.

Finn believes that this sense of connection and belonging is just as essential to the learning experience as the course material itself. When students feel connected, they feel more enthusiastic about sharing their unique thoughts, perspectives and experiences which creates a diverse and inclusive environment for everyone to learn from. This approach to teaching has earned him great reviews from his students. 

2022: Matheus Thompson Bandeira

Matheus Thompson Bandeira is a PhD candidate in economics at SFU, joining the department in the fall of 2018 after receiving his MA degree also from SFU. Since 2017, he has worked as a teaching assistant on several undergraduate courses such as ECON 103, ECON 201, ECON 302 and ECON 325. In his work as a teaching assistant at SFU, Matheus always tries to deemphasize memorization by encouraging creative and analytical problem solving in his students. To him, engaging and motivating students is the greatest reward he gets from teaching. Working on his research in the area of political economy, Matheus has been studying the potential drivers of state failure by analyzing applied theory models and historical evidence.

2021: Wenqian Sun

Since joining the Department of Economics in 2015, Wenqian Sun has been actively working as a teaching assistant (TA) for the past five years. To her, interacting with students is what she loves most about teaching. She believes the key to building a healthy relationship with students is to be the person they can go to when they have questions. Wenqian’s research interest lies mostly in econometrics. She loves skiing and snowboarding in the winter.

2021: Xiaolin Sun

Xiaolin Sun is a PhD candidate in economics at SFU. In 2016 Fall, she joined the PhD program after completing the MA program at SFU. She has worked as a teaching assistant for many courses at SFU since 2015 including some core courses at the undergraduate level and graduate level. When she is not teaching, Xiaolin conducts research in theoretical econometrics and applied econometrics. Her recent work tries to construct new ways combining methods in econometrics and machine learning to estimate the treatment effect of social programs.

2020: Boxi Yang

A PhD candidate in economics at SFU, Boxi Yang joined the university after obtaining her master's degree in economics from New York University. Since 2016, she has been working as a teaching assistant primarily in core courses such as ECON 201, ECON 302, and ECON 305. Despite the challenging course content, she has successfully engaged and motivated her students as reflected in the many positive reviews received from students and faculty alike. When she is not teaching, Boxi works on her research focused on applied microeconomics, labour economics, and development economics. 

2019: Farouk Abdul-Salam

Farouk Abdul-Salam is PhD candidate in economics at Simon Fraser University, and a job market candidate for 2020-2021 academic year. He completed his B.A. degree (Statistics and Economics) at the University of Ghana and M.A. degree (Economics) at University of Manitoba. His research focuses on computational economics, learning and adaptation, experimental economics, time series, financial economics and applied econometrics as applied to monetary policies. In addition to the Terry Heaps Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, he has received the SFU Presidents PhD Scholarship. He has assisted with teaching a total of 34 courses in the fields of economics and statistics. Farouk enjoys research as well as teaching and engaging students on economic ideas and policies.

2018: Thomas Vigié

Thomas Vigié is a PhD student in economics at SFU, having in the fall term of 2014. He is originally from France—in particular, from the Basque country. He did his masters in economic theory, and came to SFU to keep learning about economic science, but he is also interested in statistics used in economics as well. Thomas's research focuses on the statistical tools that are used to quantify impacts of economic policies. He is trying to build tools that deliver more accurate and reliable results in different contexts. Aside from that, his job consists in being a Teacher Assistant, which he thoroughly enjoys.

2018: Yasser Sattari

Yaser Sattari is a PhD student in economics at SFU. He joined the PhD program in fall 2013 after completing a one-year economics MA program at SFU. He is interested in various sub-disciplines of macroeconomics. In his thesis, Yaser has been studying roots of economic growth and development with a focus on firm dynamics in developing countries. In particular, his recent work tries to quantify the effects of policies that misallocate resources across firms in developing countries. In his academic career, Yaser enjoys teaching as much as conducting research and tries to teach students how to think like an economist.

In Memoriam

Terry Heaps was a memorable professor who changed the lives of many SFU graduates. His research in natural resources economics added to the foundation of knowledge that many researchers use today.  

In 1967, he completed his first PhD in mathematics at the University of California, Berkley and he later taught as a lecturer at the University of Manchester. Soon after, he flew down to Tanzania and taught at the University College Dar es Salaam. Almost ten years later, Terry completed a Master of Arts in Economics at SFU and then pursued a second PhD at the University of British Columbia, this time in economics. In 1979, Terry joined the SFU's Department of Economics as a faculty member.