Campus Life

University recognizes Findlay with 2021 Excellence in Teaching Award

Committed to providing her students with a positive, supportive learning environment, Dr. Susan Findlay of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry has been named the recipient of the University of Lethbridge’s 2021 Excellence in Teaching Award.

Findlay is noted as a strong lecturer and inspiring leader within the department and was instrumental in getting course content online during the pandemic, becoming somewhat of a technical resource person for her colleagues in the process. She will be honoured at the uLethbridge Awards Night virtual celebration on Thursday, May 27, 2021.

Susan Findlay

Susan Findlay quickly became an integral part of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry after she was hired as an instructor in 2004. She is the lecture coordinator for both the first-year general chemistry and introductory organic chemistry courses, a role focused on providing an equitable and enjoyable experience for students in all sections.

She likens learning chemistry to learning a new language. Findlay first gives her students a basic vocabulary of concepts to help them avoid being overwhelmed by information. She helps them practice using these concepts so that, when new concepts and reactions are introduced, students see how they’re related to the basics they’ve already learned. Students then begin to see patterns and once they realize that most chemistry can be explained and predicted by a few simple rules, they gain confidence in their ability to deal with new problems on their own.

One of Findlay’s goals is to make learning chemistry fun and she accomplishes this through innovative teaching strategies. She designed a course in medicinal chemistry with two separate components connected by a central theme of pharmaceuticals. Part of the class time is devoted to lectures and discussions, and part is devoted to active problem solving where the class works as a group to predict reaction paths in drug design, taking turns in leadership roles.

Before joining the U of L, Findlay completed undergraduate work at the University of Guelph and obtained her doctoral degree in organic chemistry at the University of Calgary.