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Betting on excellence: Mike Marin wins UBC Killam Teaching prize

May 01, 2017 |

School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) senior instructor Mike Marin has been recognized for excellence in teaching with a 2017 UBC Killam Teaching Prize. The Killam prizes are the only university-wide teaching awards.

Mr Marin was awarded the prize for demonstrating sustained teaching excellence over a period of 10 years or more – he is in his eleventh year of teaching statistics, and his sixth at SPPH, where he teaches eight courses in total.

He was originally drawn to study statistics at an undergraduate level thanks to an early love of games of chance and gaming. On his eighteenth birthday, he even got his croupier license.

Studying the subject, however, taught him that players follow a set of statistical rules in games of chance, removing the need to make decisions, and that the probability of winning was set at about 48% or less in most games.

“I realized Vegas was big for a reason.”
2017 UBC Killam Teaching Prize winner Mike Marin

Mike Marin

Senior instructor Mike Marin

Having always wanted to be a teacher, Mr Marin pursued a Masters in Statistics, and began teaching at university-level, and eventually at SPPH, where he says he likes teaching the application of statistics and knowing that his work has an impact on the world, including helping those who work to stop the spread of deadly diseases such as Ebola.

“I think it’s nice that I get to teach the next generation of researchers. Indirectly, I can impact the world and have a positive effect through them.”
2017 UBC Killam Teaching Prize winner Mike Marin

Society in Science Branco Weiss Postdoctoral Fellow and doctoral alumna Jacquelyn Cragg supported Mr Marin’s nomination, saying there had been a waitlist for several of his courses. Students who were not enrolled in his classes frequently asked her for his course text to prepare for SPPH comprehensive exams.

“As a research fellow and industry consultant, I often find myself explaining statistical concepts in ways that I remember Mike explaining them to his classroom.”
Society in Science Branco Weiss Postdoctoral Fellow and doctoral alumna Jacquelyn Cragg

Doctoral student Ellen Randall took Mr Marin’s SPPH 400 and 500 class, and said he was one of the best teachers she had ever had, with a true passion for his field, the ability to work from a student’s level of comprehension, and a very evident desire to create a supportive and stimulating learning experience.

“I think that SPPH students are lucky to have access to someone who can take a content area such as statistics and render it comprehensible, attainable, and even enjoyable!”

This is the sixth Killam Teaching Prize for SPPH since 2010, and one of four the Faculty of Medicine received this year. Mr Marin’s award will be presented in October.

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