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Professor Jennifer Farmer (ChemE) has completely redesigned CHE204F & CHE205S: Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry Laboratory I & II. (photo by Michael Martino)

Professor Jennifer Farmer (ChemE) has received the 2024 Wighton Fellowship. Awarded by the Sandford Fleming Foundation to one recipient nationwide each year, the fellowship recognizes excellence in the development and teaching of laboratory-based courses in undergraduate engineering programs.  

Since joining U of T Engineering in 2016, Farmer has taught two second-year lab courses, CHE204F & CHE205S: Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry Laboratory I & II. She has completely redesigned these courses to include new chemistry content and engineering concepts, and to create better linkages between the two. She also improved the alignment between lectures and labs to provide students with more opportunities to transfer and apply what they’ve learned. 

In 2019, Farmer designed and introduced a biweekly dry-wet lab model to address student concerns about workload. Lectures, called dry labs, were introduced to support the wet, or experimental labs. Farmer developed all the content and activities for the dry labs in collaboration with summer research students. She also shifted the wet labs from a recipe-driven model to a student-centred approach, using inquiry-based learning and problem-based learning experiments.   

Farmer is leading modernization projects for the Wallberg Process Intensification Laboratory and the Waisberg Laboratory for Sustainable Chemical Engineering. The result of these projects will be cutting-edge labs allowing for a wider variety of processes to be studied, better linkages between course and laboratory material, expansion of the lab curriculum, and more cross-department and cross-faculty teaching collaborations.   

Through her research program, Farmer creates projects that allow students to be active partners in the design of the lab curriculum. She has supervised 17 undergraduates and six graduate students in various projects related to lab curriculum development. This work has led to presentations at the annual conferences for the Canadian Engineering Education Association and the American Society for Engineering Education, as well as two papers in the Journal of Chemical Education.  

Farmer has twice received ChemE’s Diran Basmadjian Teacher of the Year Award for Small Classes — in 2018 and 2023. In 2022, she was appointed the inaugural Associate Chair, Undergraduate Student Experience for ChemE, in recognition of her contributions to improving students’ learning experience.  

Professor Farmer’s work in modernizing ChemE’s laboratory curriculum and facilities, as well as her efforts to ensure that her students are active participants in this work, have provided students with inspiring new learning opportunities,” says U of T Engineering Dean Christopher Yip. 

“On behalf of the faculty, congratulations to Professor Farmer on this well-deserved honour.” 

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