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Pharmacy lecturer's passion for teaching

Tuesday, 7 February 2017 2:55pm

Dr Shayamal Das (26)_418px
"We need to teach our students well with the school curriculum for the betterment of the community" says Senior Lecture, Dr Shyamal Das.

A good curriculum is essential for educating our future pharmacists, and Dr Shyamal Das works hard to ensure that the curriculum is understood. His passion for teaching was established at a young age and is still very important to the Otago School of Pharmacy lecturer.

“We need to teach our students well with the school curriculum for the betterment of the community,” says Dr Das.

Growing up in Bangladesh, Dr Das was influenced largely by his father who is soon to celebrate 50 years of primary school teaching. His father taught him the value of honesty and hard work, encouraging Dr Das to pursue a career in Pharmacy.

“I learned honesty from my parents. I wanted a career where I could be honest but lead a decent life.”

Dr Das began his Pharmaceutical study at Jahangirnagar University in 1990. Within the first 6 months of his degree, Dr Das knew that he wanted to be a Pharmacy lecturer in the future. However, teaching Pharmacy was not a popular choice for graduates who were guaranteed a pharmaceutical industry position that would pay a lot more. But it was what Dr Das was most passionate about.

“I loved it, my passion was teaching”.

As a top student at the University, Dr Das was employed to coach students wanting to undertake admission tests for tertiary education. In his first year of study Dr Das helped to educate over 2700 students in 54 different classes.

Dr Das graduated with his BPharm (Honours) and MPharm degrees from Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh, in 1997 and 1999 respectively. After completing his Master’s degree in Pharmaceutics, Dr Das was appointed as a Lecturer in Bangladesh. In 2003, Dr Das received a scholarship to complete his PhD at Monash University (Australia) staying on as Research Fellow until 2013.

In 2013, Dr Das took on the challenging position as Senior Lecturer at the University of Otago. Now, not only did Dr Das have to teach in English, but he had to learn a curriculum that was vastly different to the Pharmaceutical education he had received himself.

Dr Das sought help from a speech therapist almost immediately after arriving to New Zealand. He also joined Dunedin’s Toastmasters club to help with his public speaking. Hours outside of work where spent improving his communication skills so his students could understand his lecturers.

Students evaluate lectures at the end of each semester as a requirement of the University of Otago. Dr Das runs an additional evaluation earlier in the semester in order to make changes during the teaching period and transform his lectures if required. “Every student is different. I want to know how I can accommodate for all abilities and styles of learning”, says Dr Das.

Dr Das’s students notice the effort he has made in his lecturers and rate him very highly “Dr Das persisted on adapting his teaching to make sure that we understood the content as a whole” quotes one of our fourth year students, “It is such an honour to have a lecturer who is so devoted and genuinely wants to teach us.”

After a lot of hard work and dedication Dr Das was delighted to be among the Top 5 Teachers at the Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) Teaching awards (September, 2016) from a pool of almost 370 nominations. “When I heard the news that I was a finalist for the Top 5 Teachers, I was so excited”.

Dr Das’s research interests revolve around drug delivery, in particular, respiratory drug delivery of powder formulations and vaccines for treating chronic lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, lung cancer, tuberculosis, and other lung infections and was recently announced one of the five finalists for ‘The Australasian Pharmaceutical Science Association (APSA) New Investigator Award 2016’.