Teaching awards

2023 Awards for Excellence in Teaching

March 06, 2024

SFU's 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award winners are creating inclusive, collaborative and empowering learning spaces for their students.

2023 Excellence in Teaching Award

Tara Holland, Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography and School of Environmental Science , Faculty of Environment

Tara Holland is a senior lecturer cross-appointed in the Department of Geography and School of Environmental Science who currently researches teaching methods for improving student learning and engagement. Holland is known for being an evidence-driven, compassionate and reflective educator who constantly seeks ways to develop her teaching toolkit to enhance student experience and outcomes.

From implementing two-stage collaborative exams to designing a community partnership capstone course, Holland’s assignments emphasize collaboration and experiential learning, and encourage self-directed learning. Often teaching complex and ever-developing topics like climate change and environmental science, Holland makes a point to update her courses with the most current information and respond to shifting student needs as they navigate the climate crisis.

Holland is also the Faculty of Environment’s Teaching Fellow, working to foster a collaborative community of teaching practice across units in the Faculty.

To learn more, read the full story here.

2023 Excellence in Teaching Award

Mauve Pagé, Senior Lecturer, Publishing Program, Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology

Mauve Pagé is a publication design senior lecturer dedicated to student-led pedagogy, experimentation and challenging colonial ways of knowing in design education. In her teaching, Pagé delivers non-traditional evaluation approaches designed to foster students’ professional and personal growth. She also fosters inclusive learning spaces through anti-oppressive pedagogy and culturally-inclusive student assessments.

Pagé has worked as an in-house and freelance designer for large commercial presses, small local publishers, university presses, and for journals and magazines. Her work has been recognized by the Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada, PubWest Book Design Awards, and Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. She holds a Master of Publishing degree from SFU, a Bachelor in Communication Design from NSCAD University in Halifax, and a Bachelor in Women’s Studies from Queen’s University.

To learn more, read the full story here.

2023 Excellence in Teaching Award

Marianne Ignace, Distinguished Professor, Departments of Indigenous Studies and Linguistics, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

As an SFU faculty member for three decades, Marianne Ignace has gained respect and admiration among her students for teaching Indigenous languages within Indigenous communities. Dedicated to preserving and restoring Indigenous languages, Secwepemctsín and North Haida in particular, Ignace teaches in person and online, at SFU and within communities. She truly brings the classroom to the community. By empowering students to maintain cultural and social connection to kin and community, Ignace plays an important part in SFU’s reconciliation and decolonization.

Beyond language instruction, Ignace engages her students to reclaim their Indigenous languages by encouraging reflection on their experiences, decolonizing from the harms wrought by a traumatic past, and finding joy in discovering the traditional knowledges of their elders.

Ignace is a Distinguished Professor in SFU’s Departments of Indigenous Studies and Linguistics. She is Director of SFU’s Indigenous Languages Program as well as SFU’s First Nations Language Centre.

To learn more, read the full story here.

2023 Early Career Award for Excellence in Teaching

Tammara Soma, assistant professor, School of Resource and Environmental Management, Faculty of Environment

Tammara Soma implements a systems approach to understanding environmental issues and cultivates planning education that is based on relationship building, collaboration and humility. Soma draws on a diverse range of scholars, worldviews and community expertise to help students in her classroom develop a rich understanding of planning solutions. Passionate about creating an engaging learning environment, she is known to incorporate creative assignments and involve her classes in community research and projects. These hands-on experiences help students gain applied skills, better understand different worldviews and learn to communicate complex ideas to diverse audiences.

Soma inspires her students and community with her vision for sustainable and just food systems for all. As the co-founder and director of the Food Systems Lab, her community-engaged research is focused on the field of food system planning, covering food loss and waste reduction, food sovereignty and the circular economy.  

To learn more, read the full story here.

2023 Early Career Award for Excellence in Teaching

Daria Ahrensmeier, lecturer, Department of Physics, Faculty of Science

Daria Ahrensmeier creates dynamic learning experiences for students, encouraging them to learn about learning, to assess their own progress, and transfer what they have learned to new contexts. Beyond her own classroom, she builds teaching and learning communities including instructors and teaching assistants, and involves students as partners in course development inviting their feedback and new ideas for inspiration.

Ahrensmeier started specializing in physics education and educational development while doing postdoctoral work in non-equilibrium quantum field theory and adiabatic quantum computing. She has co-created and taught lecture courses, labs, studio physics materials and labatorials for students in physics, engineering, mathematics and other programs at universities in Canada and Germany. As collaborator or co-PI on several Teaching and Learning Development Grants, she has studied the effectiveness of those instructional designs and shared the findings in publications and at conferences.  

2023 Early Career Award for Excellence in Teaching


Molly McVey is an expert in engineering education who applies evidence-based practices in her teaching to empower students to succeed academically and develop their sense of engineering identity.

Before joining SFU in 2021, McVey was a postdoctoral teaching fellow at the University of Kansas where she investigated the impact of course design on academic performance and the retention of students from diverse backgrounds. Bringing this knowledge to SFU’s School of Sustainable Energy Engineering, McVey takes great care in designing her courses and creates an inclusive learning environment that maximizes student success. She uses active and cooperative learning, transparency, and structure to promote learning. After experiencing her own struggles with belonging in engineering, McVey is personally passionate about helping her students find their sense of belonging and engineering identity as they embark on a career in this rigorous and challenging field.

To learn more, read the full story here.