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Published: 04 December 2013

SSC academic receives ultimate honour for teaching excellence

The Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award goes to Deputy Head of STAR lab

Dr Chakravarthini Saaj, Senior Lecturer in Robotics and Deputy Head of Surrey Technology for Autonomous Systems and Robotics (STAR) lab – part of the Surrey Space Centre (SSC) – has been awarded the University’s highest honour for teaching excellence.

Named overall winner across all the faculties, she was presented with the prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award 2012-2013 by Professor Sir Christopher Snowden (President and Vice-Chancellor of the University) and Professor Gill Nicholls (Vice-President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor) at an awards ceremony on 25 November.

The award recognises Dr Saaj’s innovative and successful teaching practices, which are highly rated by both undergraduate and postgraduate students. As Deputy Head of STAR lab, she draws on world-leading research to extend her students’ knowledge, and uses a combination of research-led teaching, enquiry-based learning and problem-based learning.

Dr Saaj received her much-deserved award at a special awards presentation evening held at the University’s Lakeside restaurant. After the presentation of the Vice-Chancellor’s awards, winners and finalists enjoyed dinner followed by an after-dinner speech by Jim Glover, Chairman of the University Council.

Dr Saaj was shortlisted for the honour, along with winners from Surrey’s other three faculties, when she won the Learning and Teaching Award for the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences (FEPS) earlier in the year.

On receiving the university-wide award, Dr Saaj said: “This award is very special to me as it’s the highest recognition for my commitments to excellence in learning and teaching. Thanks to my colleagues for their valuable support and advice. Above all, thanks to my students for their excellent feedback. I dedicate this award to my family for their encouragement and support.” 

Dr Saaj was one of three Vice-Chancellor’s Award winners from FEPS: Judy Peters of the Department of Chemistry won the Award for Health and Safety, and Zahida Batool of the Department of Physics was honoured with the Award for Postgraduate Research.