Archived Voice Articles

Peter Mahaffy earns top teaching award

King’s University College chemistry professor, Dr. Peter Mahaffy (’74), has been awarded the prestigious 3M Canada Teaching Fellowship, Canada’s top teaching award.

Peter Mahaffy

Peter Mahaffy

“It is gratifying to see Dr. Mahaffy’s teaching excellence recognized with such a celebrated award,” said King’s President, Dr. Harry Fernhout (’70). “His contributions at both the national and international level are a reflection of the amazing work he does right here at King’s. His approach to teaching both inspires our students and serves as a model for university professors far and wide. We are privileged to have him as part of our team.”

Mahaffy works with chemistry majors and has developed innovative approaches to teaching chemistry to arts and science students. As one of the early adaptors of molecular modeling for teaching purposes, he collaborates with colleagues at the King’s Centre for Visualization in Science to develop eye-catching visualizations and other teaching aids used around the world.

One of Mahaffy’s significant contributions is a new metaphor for chemistry education. His tetrahedral model incorporates the existing triangle metaphor that learners encounter in their chemistry textbooks, but extends the triangle in a third dimension, representing the human contexts for chemistry. Chemical educators and organizers of major international conferences have invited Dr. Mahaffy to describe this new approach to chemistry education.

Mahaffy is chair of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry’s Committee on Chemistry Education and a member on the International Council on Science’s Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the Conduct of Science.