photo provided by Ian VanderBurgh
University of Waterloo Lecturer Ian VanderBurgh's teaching has addressed diverse audiences, from struggling calculus students to Putnam students. His work has had a significant influence on the mathematical community among both students and teachers at large.
Within the University of Waterloo's Faculty of Mathematics, VanderBurgh has earned enormous respect from faculty and students alike. His reputation and popularity are legendary and the influence he has had on students and teachers will endure. VanderBurgh understands students’ needs and knows where and when they will have difficulties with the material. He carefully prepares and presents material in a way that is easy to understand, with motivating examples and insightful observations.
Presenting problem-solving workshops in countless elementary and secondary schools across Canada and abroad, VanderBurgh’s deep commitment and dedication to teaching and to students extends well beyond the classroom. He has assisted with the coaching of the Waterloo Putnam team and participated in developing and administering three University of Waterloo undergraduate math contests. As the Director of the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing (CEMC) since 2005, VanderBurgh has led numerous initiatives to promote mathematics including contests, high school visits, student and teacher workshops, and online resources. Under VanderBurgh’s leadership, the CEMC received the 2014 NSERC Award for Science Promotion.
One of the members of the CMS Teaching Award Selection Committee wrote about VanderBurgh:
“For me, the most impressive part of Ian's nomination was the wide range of his contributions to the mathematical education at the University of Waterloo, but also nationally and internationally. It seems to me that with math contests, articles in Crux, and his involvement in the master’s program for teachers, Ian has reached out to learners in all corners of Canada and the world.”
VanderBurgh’s innovative techniques, energy and dedication have earned him a great deal of admiration and the respect of his students, as reflected in their comments about him:
"I struggled through my first year of university, and by the time I found myself in Mr. VanderBurgh’s course, I had accepted that university mathematics was going to be difficult for me. All of that changed in Mr. VanderBurgh’s lecture hall. His enthusiasm for the subject matter was contagious and he was always able to explain concepts in another way if I was having difficulty. …I finished his course with a confidence I hadn’t yet felt in university, and I was enjoying the mathematics again!”
“His passion for the abstract beauty of mathematics made me fall in love with it too, and his clarity and intuition for the subject made me see past the formulas and notation to the real core of the subject.”
VanderBurgh earned his Bachelor of Mathematics at University of Waterloo in 1999 and his Master of Sciences at University of Toronto in 2000. He joined the Faculty of Mathematics at University of Waterloo as a lecturer in 2000. During his tenure as the CEMC Director, VanderBurgh won several teaching awards including Faculty of Mathematics Award for Distinction in Teaching (2007), and University of Waterloo Distinguished Teacher Award (2008).
About the Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS)
Founded in 1945, the Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS) promotes the advancement, discovery, learning and application of mathematics. The CMS promotes mathematics through a rich array of activities including: scientific meetings; publications; awards; prizes; grants; camps and competitions. As the national math association, the CMS represents Canada internationally to other societies as well as organizations such as the International Mathematical Union (IMU).