Minac wins top mathematical honour

Mathematics professor Jan Minac has been awarded the 2013 Excellence in Teaching Award by the Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS). The award recognizes sustained and distinguished contributions in mathematics teaching at the undergraduate level at a Canadian postsecondary education institution.

“Jan is a gifted mathematician who with unabashed enthusiasm shares his knowledge and his love of the subject with his students,” said Keith Taylor, CMS president. “Having Jan as a teacher is an experience no student forgets. They have the experience of working with him, and from time to time a research paper even emerges from this.”

Minac makes his courses interesting by adding stories to the ideas and even dramatizing the action, occasionally borrowing creatively from the works of Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes. In Jan’s classes, you learn more than mathematics, or more to the point, you learn mathematics as it is embedded in life.

“What particularly impressed the selection committee about Jan is he offers his students the very best that mathematics has to offer – math at its most beautiful and most powerful,” added Peter Taylor, chair of the CMS Education Committee. “And, I have to say, we were a bit envious of the extraordinary amount of fun he has doing it.”

Minac earned his PhD in mathematics from Queen’s University in 1986. After postdoctoral work as a member of MSRI and the University of California at Berkeley, he came to Western in 1989.