Lorne Russwurm Award for Outstanding TA Performance – Awarded to Collin Branton

brantonThe Lorne Russwurm Award for outstanding performance by a teaching assistant (TA) is awarded by the Department of Geography and Environmental Management annually to a TA that has performed beyond the ‘call of duty’ and exemplified outstanding performance. The contributions of Collin Branton exceeded instructor expectations and all formal course requirements. Through a competitive process Collin received the Lorne Russwurm award for providing assistance to students and the instructor well beyond the call of duty by assisting with course content creation, delivery, and support.

Collin Branton was the teaching assistant for Geography 318 (Planning 353) – Spatial Analysis. The course provides an introduction to point pattern analysis, measuring spatial autocorrelation, interpolation,  and local indicators of spatial association among other methods for analyzing spatial data. The course enrollment was double previous levels over the past four years and the content was modified to align with the Geographical Information Analysis  by O’Sullivan and Unwin. Collin could not have provided better support for my first full delivery of the course. He assisted with the revision of newly created assignments , which included one using UAV data my team collected from Laurel Creek. This assignment and the use of those data were particularly exciting for the students in the course. He also graded assignments without question and developed appropriate rubrics. A very large number of technical and conceptual questions were fielded by Collin both online via LEARN and email as well as in person during regularly scheduled office hours and appointments with students. He also attended each class and facilitated questions during class and breaks in the lecture.

Collin received fantastic evaluations from students taking the course and some example comments include:

“Fast replies to emails. Took the time to explain grading scheme and reason for marks assigned”

“Very approachable and easy to speak with both during office hours and via email”

“The TA is available to help at any time”

“Collin is very helpful with providing clarification about concepts taught in class and for point people in the right direction to finding helpful and accurate information.”

“He gives a lot of good feedback of [on] assignments.”


As an undergraduate Collin was a TA for GEOG 281, he volunteered his efforts to assist project teams of students in GEOG 481 this summer and has been highly involved in knowledge dissemination and training outreach initiatives with Geographers Without Borders. Collin, like many of our students, including another recipient from our lab Andrei Balulescu, help to make the Department of Geography and Environmental Management a great place to work, study, and socialize. It is the energy and efforts of our students that combine with our research and teaching goals that bring out the best of Geography at Waterloo and Andrei has worked hard to be recognized.

Congratulations Collin!