Dr. Geoff Rayner-Canham, professor of chemistry and environmental science at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, is the 2008 recipient of the Chemical Institute of Canada Award for Chemical Education. One award is given each year by the institute to the individual judged to be the most outstanding educator in chemistry or chemical education at a post-secondary institution in Canada.
The primary focus of the award is on contributions to teaching and influence on students. Over the years, Dr. Rayner-Canham has received outstanding teaching evaluations and many students have affirmed that he fired their enthusiasm in chemistry. Some students even entered Grenfell College without having taken any chemistry courses in high school and, having become “infected with the chemistry bug” in his classes, have continued into careers in chemistry.
Dr. Rayner-Canham has authored more than 50 articles based on his studies on chemical education, including several on his unique method for solving chemistry calculations and others on new approaches to the centre-piece of chemistry, the periodic table. He is the author of the world’s best-selling university-level book on descriptive inorganic chemistry and he has also co-authored texts at the high school level. For some of his publications he has involved college laboratory staff members or undergraduate chemistry students.
In addition, Dr. Rayner-Canham has been active for years in outreach work. Regionally, his large on-campus chemistry show brings hundreds of high school chemistry students each year from all over western and central Newfoundland to his presentation “Chemistry’s Everywhere!” held in the theatre at Grenfell College. More recently, he has been taking a version of the presentation to schools in communities across Labrador, the north shore of Quebec, and the south shore of Newfoundland. His travels have involved charter plane, charter boat, snowmobile and even helicopter.