Fujimoto receives 2017 Killam Graduate TA Award

May 25, 2017
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Derek Fujimoto at the Killam Award Reception

May is the month for graduation – celebrating another generation of physicists and astronomers wrapping up their studies at the University of British Columbia. Many PHAS students graduating this year would have been Derek Fujimoto's students when they first started at UBC. Derek has been TA’ing first year courses - PHYS 107/109/119 for 4 years now. In addition, he acted as head TA in PHYS 107 and 119 for the past 3 years. This year, Derek received the UBC Killam Graduate Teaching Assistant Award. The award recognizes the valuable role that teaching assistants play in our programs - the prize includes both a certificate and $1,000.00.

"I think my favourite part about teaching is seeing students get excited and interested in physics and science," Derek said.

Derek TA’ed the labs for General Science Majors, Honours Physics, as well as Science One - a small and integrated science program. "Science One students had an end of term project, unrelated to our course. Despite this, in the last few weeks of the semester, some would inevitably stay behind to ask about finding uncertainties in the measurements they had done for their project."

"It was really exciting to see them taking what we had taught them and applying it in their other courses."

Physics as a subject is sometimes considered difficult to approach; this makes having good teaching assistants even more important - not only for the students, but also for the Department. Derek hopes that this award helps motivate other TAs to encourage curiosity in their students, and to try to make their classrooms a more interesting place. “As TAs we often forget how visible we are to the students and how a good TA can really influence how the student views a given topic. "

While the award is a recognition of Derek’s contributions to teaching from his students and colleagues, Derek would actually like to thank them. “I would really like to thank my students, as well as my co-TAs, and the instructors I've had a pleasure working with. Your support and enthusiasm are what makes teaching so much fun.”

Congratulations Derek!