Geoff Rayner-Canham (2007)

raynercanhamAffiliation at the time of the award: Memorial University, Chemistry.

Citation: The four-seat charter plane lands on a gravel strip in northern Labrador. It’s May or October, and Geoff, along with a senior student, is bringing his passion for science to yet another isolated, sometimes aboriginal, community. With a tireless enthusiasm, Geoff dons his psychedelic lab coat to introduce chemistry to students whose school has limited science offerings, but whose wonder is boundless.

“It is teaching in the service of the larger community,” says Geoff; “teaching that brings the excitement and relevance of chemistry to those who may never otherwise experience it.”

Back in his university classroom, he enthralls with his teaching innovations: uncovering the role of women in science, and encouraging his students to think like a chemist, experiment like a scientist, and write like an author.

Realizing that some students are not “scientist types,” Geoff ensures that everyone leaves class “turned on” to chemistry in some way: “My challenge is to make my classes engaging and relevant to my students’ lives.”

Author of chemistry text books, pioneer in the study of women in science, award-winning teacher, recipient of the Atlantic Provinces Science Communication Award for his enduring and inspirational work, Geoff is an exceptional teacher, who—as one colleague remembers—has so much excitement that he rejoiced when mandatory retirement was eliminated.

A “chemist without borders,” Geoff transforms the face of science and its students: encouraging reluctant learners to become enthusiastic and children in remote communities to seek higher learning.