Cape Breton University is pleased to announce that Dr. Matthias Bierenstiel, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry, is the recipient of the 2016 Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU) Anne Marie MacKinnon Educational Leadership Award. The award acknowledges individuals who exemplify excellence in teaching and the improvement of the quality of university teaching.
“I am very honoured to receive such recognition,” says Dr. Matthias Bierenstiel. “Ultimately, it’s all about the students’ learning. I believe students need to be critical and think logically for themselves in their field of discipline and beyond, and a university is the right place to provide and support that.”
The Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU) annually sponsors the AAU Distinguished Teaching Award and the Anne Marie MacKinnon Educational Leadership Award to encourage excellence in teaching and educational leadership in the universities of the Atlantic region.
Dr. Bierenstiel started his academic career at Cape Breton University in 2006 and established a successful inorganic research program. Beyond the day-to-day teaching and research activities, he has been very dedicated to teaching and prides himself on the development of an upper level advanced organometallic chemistry course. He was a member of, and chaired, the CBU Senate Committee on Teaching, Learning and Evaluation, and was the Faculty Liaison of Teaching and Learning from 2011-2013. Since 2015, he has been a member of the President’s Council for Teaching and Learning that advises CBU President, Dr. David Wheeler, on broad, long-term directions of university teaching. Dr. Bierenstiel received the 2015 CBU Instructional Leadership Award for his impressive work on teaching and learning.
“Cape Breton University is extremely proud that Dr. Bierenstiel has received this recognition,” says Dr. David Wheeler, President. “Dr. Bierenstiel embodies what education is all about at Cape Breton University. His dedication to his students, his research and his colleagues makes him an ideal recipient of this award.”
Dr. Bierenstiel connects hands-on research to undergraduate students in his courses and research group. He inaugurated the Research Awareness in Chemistry Education program in the Department of Chemistry that allows first year undergraduate students to experience chemistry research. CBU Bachelor of Science students regularly present their research projects at regional Atlantic Science conferences.
Dr. Bierenstiel is currently the chair of the chemistry committee of Atlantic Science. Dr. Bierenstiel also provides science outreach into the public school system. He developed a new teaching method for teaching the periodic table of the elements and has presented seminars to Nova Scotian high-school teachers. He also joined an interdisciplinary team of colleagues, Dr. Katherine Jones from Department of Biology and Dr. Kathy Snow from the Department of Education, and received a multi-year grant from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada to provide science education for elementary school children and their teachers.
Born in Germany, Dr. Bierenstiel has called Canada home for more than 15 years. He received his MSc and PhD degrees from the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, Germany. His PhD study in the field of organometallic chemistry was in collaboration with the University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario. He conducted a postdoctoral research project at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta. Throughout his academic career, Dr. Bierenstiel has balanced teaching and research at the various stages of undergraduate studies, graduate studies, postdoctoral studies, and as an academic faculty member, adding, “I love chemistry and I love the excitement of discovering new things – which is balanced by my passion for teaching others, not only on a discipline level, but teaching them to be teachers and leaders.”