Office of the Dean

Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning)

John Nychka

Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning)


Title & Department:

  • Associate Professor, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering

Education & Career Highlights:

  • PhD, Materials, University of California Santa Barbara
  • MEng, Materials Science and Engineering, McMaster University
  • BSc, Metallurgical Engineering (Co-op), University of Alberta
  • Vargo Teaching Chair, University of Alberta 
  • Associate Chair (Undergraduate Programs), Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Alberta
  • Medal for Distinction in Engineering Education, Engineers Canada
  • Silver Medal Award, ASM International

Awards & Recognitions:

  • TMS Young Leader Professional Development Award, The Mining, Metals, and Materials Society
  • Honorary Geoscientists Canada Fellow, Geoscientists Canada
  • Rutherford Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, University of Alberta
  • Fellow, Engineers Canada
  • The Excellence in Education Award, The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA)
  • The Provost's Award for Early Achievement of Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, University of Alberta
  • Faculty of Engineering Undergraduate Teaching Award, University of Alberta
  • Teaching Excellence Appreciation Award, Delta Chi Fraternity

Teaching & Research Interests:

  • Use of the 'materials paradigm' in research (e.g., ceramics, metals and alloys, glasses, bioactive materials for bone re-growth, dental materials, biodegradable agrifiber-based composites, surface coatings, and wettability of materials)

Responsibilities as Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning):

  • Supporting students in pursuit of their dreams
  • Innovating new ways to support learning on campus
  • Serving on committees across campus to serve as a voice for graduate student education
  • Providing contextual assessment of people's situations against the policies, protocols, and rules of the University system in an effort to achieve compliance and win-win outcomes wherever possible

Personal Interests & Hobbies:

  • Music (listening and playing), photography (film and digital), art (drawing, painting, and sculpting), graphic design, videography, reading, yoga, and cycling

Fondest graduate school memory:

  • The people!

Favourite thing about the University of Alberta:

  • Collegiality and the dedication to learning by, and of, our student body.

If you could tell graduate students to read one book, what would it be:

  • Only one? That's tough! Essentialism by Greg McKeown - changed my life whilst on sabbatical from 2015-2016.

Advice to graduate students:

  • Graduate school is not just more school - you will change through the process. Take the time to get to know yourself and how you want to grow during your studies. Find the people who will help support your growth. Expect that your growth will not always feel amazingly awesome...change can be challenging and it will feel like a roller coaster. You cannot wait until everything is perfect before you start; start soon, do, learn, and iterate - in research, nothing works the first time.

Click here to go to Associate Dean Nychka's faculty page at the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering.

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