Celebrating excellence in teaching and applied research

Saskatchewan Polytechnic recognizes and celebrates faculty

Through the Faculty Award for Excellence: Teaching and Applied Research Award of Excellence Saskatchewan Polytechnic acknowledges outstanding faculty members who go above and beyond. With convocation postponed this year due to COVID-19, we have been unable to celebrate these achievements in person.

“Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s faculty are instrumental in ensuring that our graduates have the skills companies need to remain innovative and competitive,” says Dr. Larry Rosia, president and CEO. “This is especially important in this period of unprecedented change, driven by new technologies and other disruptive factors. My heartfelt congratulations to our faculty award recipients.”

Faculty Award for Excellence: Teaching

This year, Sask Polytech recognizes five faculty members for outstanding teaching. Recipients of the award provided supportive learning environments, inspired success in skills development and utilized the latest technologies to enhance learning and embody Sask Polytech’s core values. The Faculty Award for Excellence: Teaching recipients are:

Bagher Emadi, instructor, Industrial Mechanics (Saskatoon Campus)

According to his students, who speak very highly of him, Bagher exemplifies what it means to be a great teacher. His knowledge and passion for drafting enhances the student learning experience. He provides a supportive learning environment through hands-on learning methods, encouragement and inclusion. Each of Bagher’s nominators highlighted his willingness to help students during his personal time and provide assistance to any student in need. In addition to his commitment to teaching, Bagher is also involved in developing and revising course content and exploring research possibilities.

Kim Thiessen, community clinical coordinator, Saskatchewan Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Saskatoon Campus)

Having been involved in nursing education for over 20 years, Kim joined the Saskatchewan Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing (SCBScN) program six years ago. In her role as the community clinical coordinator, she supports both students and instructors by sharing her experiences and expertise. Her dedication to promoting student success is evident through the time she takes to mentor new faculty and colleagues in order to support their ongoing learning. Kim worked tirelessly to set up an international practicum experience and has twice taken students to India to complete their community health course. She has also been instrumental in developing provincial preceptor workshops to provide registered nurses with the confidence and tools to support students as they transition into practice. She brings course theory alive to engage students and fosters an inclusive learning environment. Kim has a way with people and a genuine interest in them; she knows how to challenge and bring out the best in each of her students.

Nicola Salter, instructor, Cytotechnology (Saskatoon Campus)

Nicola is approachable and encouraging, and has a very student-centered approach to teaching. She adapts her teaching styles to the needs of students and is always open to hearing student concerns and new ways that instruction could be delivered to meet their needs. Her students say that her passion for Cytology makes learning fun and interesting. Nicola pursues professional development opportunities to ensure she can provide the best possible learning experience for her students. She has a love for engaging with students and colleagues and is always willing to assist others. Nicola regularly contributes to department projects and is actively involved in curriculum revision. Students inspire Nicola. Each student brings their own skill set and knowledge to the program, which provides opportunities to learn from each other.

Tina Uchacz, instructor, BioScience Technology (Saskatoon Campus)

Tina’s students and colleagues speak highly of her knowledge and ability to communicate complex information in an exciting and engaging way. She often incorporates interactive activities and encourages students to take pride in their work. She gives students responsibilities for ongoing projects and maintaining plants that the class uses in the plant physiology Lab. Her colleagues cite her as a great resource for ideas and advice. Tina’s openness to new ideas was exemplified as she incorporated Indigenization into the botany curriculum by arranging a native plant walk and guided tour at Wanuskewin Heritage Park. Tina is known for pushing students to improve and do their best; she always makes time for students who need assistance or clarification. She makes sure to emphasize how material, concepts and specific skills are pertinent to the students’ future careers.

Wilma Groenen, instructor, Arts and Sciences (Saskatoon Campus)

Wilma has been instructing in the Arts and Sciences department for over 20 years. She currently teaches Communications and is constantly engaging with instructors and program heads of different programs to ensure her instruction is relevant to student needs. Wilma places the needs of her students above all else. She is welcoming and supportive, offers class tutorials and meetings outside of class when students need help. Through the use of online discussions, she has been able to foster critical thinking in her students. Each year, Wilma assembles a panel to discuss industry trends in the field of Bioscience. She uses the opportunity to better align her instructional practices with industry trends to allow her students to be successful after graduation.

Applied Research Award of Excellence

At Sask Polytech, we solve real-world problems and come up with solutions to everyday challenges. Sask Polytech owes our strong reputation for success in applied research to the commitment and expertise of our faculty and researchers. This year, Sask Polytech recognized two faculty members who made significant contributions in the areas of applied research and innovation. The Applied Research Award of Excellence recipients are:

Dr. Cyril Coupal, senior research associate, Computer Systems Technology (Saskatoon Campus)

Dr. Coupal has been both an instructor and researcher at Sask Polytech. Since 2016, he has taken a more focused role in applied research and has worked on over a dozen projects. His dedication to applied research has been demonstrated through his work ethic and drive to see student researchers succeed. He provides a strong sense of direction and is always thinking to the future. Dr. Coupal has an out-of-the box problem solving style that he applies to his work with industry clients. He played a significant role in developing a first-of-its-kind data capturing system supported by a graph database for the Restorative Action Program (RAP). The system enables RAP to understand the outcome of activities and identify the impact of their efforts. He also played a significant role in the development of the Ag In Motion mobile app, Refresh wellness platform and mobile app and working with Keyleaf (formally POS Biosciences) to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to streamline data. Through his dedication and collaborative approach to applied research, Dr. Coupal has become a significant and important part of research and education at Sask Polytech.

Leila Benmerrouche, research technologist, Natural Resources and Built Environment (Prince Albert Campus)

Leila is a forward thinking research technologist who has played a significant role in many projects. She was a driving force in the development of drone technology, and the development and delivery of remote sensing solutions for agriculture and natural resources. She has also developed innovative solutions for imaging and analyzing prescribed burns in Saskatchewan’s grassland region. Much of this work involves drone and satellite technology and new adaptations of virtual and augmented reality. Leila has also helped develop a workflow protocol for resource-related crime scene investigations using drone technology. The technology was used in a high-profile moose poaching investigation that helped lead to a successful conviction. Leila is also a great role model for student researchers and helps them reach their applied research project goals. With an aptitude for computers, technology and drones along with her curiosity and work ethic, Leila’s research promises to revolutionize reclamation science and provide exciting new opportunities for Sask Polytech and its partners.

Congratulations to this year's Faculty Award for Excellence: Teaching and Applied Research Award for Excellence recipients. We are extremely fortunate to have faculty that are not only experts in their fields, but also leaders in education. Thank you for all you do for our students and institution.