Feb. 20, 2020

Prof’s passion for teaching anatomy garners prominent national award

Heather Jamniczky is one of 10 Canadians to receive 3M National Teaching Fellowship
Heather Jamniczky

Heather Jamniczky is one of 10 Canadians to receive a 2020 3M National Teaching Fellowship.

Courtesy Heather Jamniczky

Heather Jamniczky teaches anatomy to students in the Cumming School of Medicine. She also does research in the area of teaching and learning, specifically on how electrical activity in the brain relates to learning. If that isn’t enough, she also does community outreach with a high school biology class in Cochrane, to improve their understanding of human anatomical systems.

Her dedication to teaching and learning is being recognized on a national level. This week, Jamniczky was selected as one of only 10 people across Canada to receive a 2020 3M National Teaching Fellowship. 

I’ve always been interested in how I can be the best teacher I can be.

“I try to show students why they need to know a piece of information. What’s the clinical application? For example, if someone has pain in their wrist, what do you need to know about anatomy to determine a possible diagnosis?” she says.

Teaching and learning

Jamniczky, a UCalgary alumna (BSc’01 and PhD‘06) is dedicated to creating deep learning experiences for her students and is always trying something new in the classroom.

“Last term I created opportunities for students to engage with anatomy through drawing,” she says. “My own practice is to be very reflective, check in with students. Throughout the term, I checked in with the students to ask what they thought of the experience, and how it could be improved, or if it was effective.”

Her enthusiasm for teaching and skill in the classroom has been acknowledged by students with numerous nominations (and wins) for teaching awards that are adjudicated entirely by students and recognize teachers who make outstanding contributions. In addition she has earned many other awards along the way, including Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 under 40.


Jamniczky likes to incorporate digital technologies in the classroom, where it makes sense. “Technology plays a part in what I do, but not every technology is going to benefit my classroom, so I’m always looking for that specific tool that will help.”

She is also a leader in this space, and was the educational lead, as part of the UCalgary team that developed the Lindsay Atlas — a virtual human used by medical students to learn about anatomy and physiology. The app lets students bring anatomy to life — examining the human body in 3D and dissecting over 3,000 body parts.

Jamniczky has been teaching for over 10 years and she enjoys the interactive journey it is.

“It’s so rewarding when you help to change a student’s perspective and they realize ‘I can do this,’” she says. “Being part of someone’s self realization is pretty special.”

Heather Jamniczky is an associate professor and teaches students in both the Bachelor of Health Sciences and Undergraduate Medical Education programs at the Cumming School of Medicine.