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Discover one of Canada’s top 10 undergraduate mathematics programs.
With award-winning instructors, a broad range of undergraduate research opportunities, and a track record of alumni stepping into coveted jobs and graduate programs—it’s no wonder SFU’s Mathematics Department is considered one of the nation’s best.
Meet some of our Faculty
Brenda Davison, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Science Excellence in Teaching Award Recipient
Senior Lecturer and PhD candidate Brenda Davison received the 2016/2017 Faculty of Science Excellence in Teaching Award for her outstanding work in the Department of Mathematics. “I think students pick up on whether you’re passionate and excited about the topic yourself,” she says. “In my opinion, there isn’t anything better than mathematics. If you feel this way, then it’s completely obvious why you would study and teach mathematics.”
Davison began her career as an engineer before returning to academia. “I’d always really loved math and regretted not doing more of it,” she says. “There’s no typical work day: I teach, do lecture preparation, set assignments, supervise and organize TAs, mark, hold office hours, and learn new mathematics.”
In addition to teaching, Davison also does outreach, sitting on committees and participating in events for the public. “We have seminars on improving teaching, where we talk about undergraduate education issues. High school students and elementary school students come here for workshops, as do teachers for professional development,” she explains.
Davison has recently been teaching a course in downtown Vancouver at Harbour Centre in SFU’s liberal arts 55+ program. “There has been a really positive response from the people in that course—most of whom gain a new appreciation for math and its beauty. They’re all really keen and interested, so that’s been really fun,” she says.
When she’s not working, Davison enjoys reading and spending time in the mountains, rock climbing, hiking and trail running.
Dr. Natalia Kouzniak, Senior Lecturer, Excellence in Teaching Award Winner
Dr. Natalia Kouzniak is a Senior Lecturer at SFU’s Surrey Campus. Her outstanding work in the department has earned her three awards for excellence in teaching. “I love that I can make a difference in people’s lives, helping students believe in themselves, and start liking mathematics,” she says. “After high school, students often have a very low esteem of math. They are scared of it and they don’t understand it. I’m happy when I can shift their perspective from math being awful, terrible, and horrible to doable, interesting, and something they can really master.”
In addition to teaching, coordinating workshops, and meeting with students and faculty, Kouzniak mentors postdocs, sessional instructors, and grad students. She also devotes her time to outreach. “I work with students to bridge the gap between two educational systems. I do a lot of outreach activities including summer math camps where I interact with high school math teachers and students that will possibly become our students one day,” she explains.
Kouzniak has also been instrumental in shaping workshops at Surrey since the campus opened. “I’ve helped develop new courses, writing supplements for the courses, and pioneering some online assignments,” she says. Her research in applied mathematics has applications in various industries from aircrafts to mining.
When she’s not working in the department, Kouzniak spends her time skiing, hiking, biking and making fashion jewelry.
Dr. Veselin Jungic, Professor, 3M National Teaching Fellow
Dr. Veselin Jungic is the recipient of the prestigious 3M National Teaching Fellowship for his outstanding contributions to math education. As a Professor, he spends his time teaching, meeting with students, and leading initiatives in math education. “I am quite proud that I’m a part of the teaching faculty here,” he says. “There is so much talent and positive energy in this group and new ideas that we’re using on a daily basis.”
For Jungic, one of his proudest achievements is the work he’s spearheaded with Math Catcher, an aboriginal math education outreach program. “This is an initiative that started in 2010. The idea was to promote mathematics for aboriginal youth both in urban settings and on reserves, but the program has grown since then,” he explains. “We’ve been promoting mathematics across British Columbia for the last seven years. We visited more than 200 schools and 400 classrooms from Cranbrook to Port Alberni, and from Mission all the way to Kitimat.”
As part of the program, Jungic visits schools, talks to teachers, and presents at their professional days. “We have resources in nine different First Nations languages. We were privileged to record some of the last fluent speakers in some of those languages. We are really making a resource that is going to stay as a testimonial, not just about our program, but a testimonial of our time.”
For Jungic, the highlight of his work is the opportunity to work with youth. “The biggest privilege of this job is to be around young people. Being a university professor, you have the privilege to teach young, smart, hard-working, ambitious people and to be part of their lives.”
When he’s not working in the math department, Jungic finds the time to train for marathons, running 18 to date.