Anthony Lau (2006)

LauAffiliation at the time of the award: University of Alberta, Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.

Citation: “Looking back, most of us can point to a decisive moment in the past, when a special teacher changed our life for the better. For me, that teacher was Dr. Tony Lau.” So begins one of the many nomination letters for this extraordinary researcher and teacher from the University of Alberta.

In over 30 years as a mathematics teacher, Tony has transformed the lives of hundreds of students who have enrolled in his jumbo mathematics classes, sat in on his upper year courses, or had the privilege of being in his graduate seminars. Math for many of us is an incomprehensible language, but this is the language Tony’s students learn. He is the model of a teacher who, by his respect for students’ thoughts and feelings creates a personal experience of mathematics. It is not surprising that Tony has won five major awards for teaching and research at his university.

Being a mentor is at the heart of Tony’s work. He gives his students advice, encouragement, and inspiration. As one of his students says, “Tony’s teaching is great, not because of mathematical details, but because of his ability to awaken young minds to their own potential.” He offers an open door policy, and students are always welcome in his office. There, he patiently explains difficult concepts and encourages them to explore the subject more deeply.

Great teachers can be fountains, or guides, or parents. Tony, as mentor, fosters vigorous growth in his students.