Picking The Mind of Bernardo Brando Albino Galvao de Sousa

One of the best known professors of mathematics for engineering students is Professor Galvao de Sousa. Despite only lecturing for a short time, he already coordinates classes for every discipline, and teaches students from almost every year. Almost every student knows his courses to be particularly challenging, especially with calculus II. It’s not uncommon for first years to hear words like bell-curve and jellyfish when the topic of calculus II is brought up. However, let’s step outside of the Calculus zone for now and discover the passions, stories and loved ones that completes the intriguing Bernardo Galvao de Sousa. So without further ado…

What’s your full name?

Bernardo Brando Albino Galvao de Sousa

How long have you been at UofT?

I have been here for 4 years and this is my 5th.

How did you get into teaching at UofT?

I did my undergrad in Pure Mathematics and my masters in Lisbon, Portugal. Afterwards I moved to the US. Then I came to Canada and was doing my post doctorate at UofT and got a lecture position.

On ratemyprofessor.com, you have an overall grade average of A+ and a chilli pepper for hotness. Do you agree with these ratings?

I usually have high ratings, but there is only a small amount of students that have rated me there, while I teach thousands of other students.

What are somethings you enjoyed when you were 18 and still do?

To be honest, I enjoy more things now than I did when I was 18 because I discovered more things as I grew older, and I still enjoy everything that I enjoyed when I was 18. I really like sports- tennis, squash, cycling. I also just like to spend time with friends. I like to travel and go to beaches where the weather is warm- not this Toronto weather!

Tell me about your artistic passions.

I was always interested in drawing. When classes got boring, I used to draw on the front and back covers of my notebooks. Sometimes it became a drawing competition if I was sitting with my friends. I also have an artistic background from my family. My Aunt is a painter and my grandmother did some beautiful ceramic works.

Have you ever written any books?

Yes- but they are not published. I do web drawings and I compiled them into a book. I have sent it to publishers once or twice but it is really hard to get it published unless you have some inside connections. One day I hope to self-publish it on an app.

Is there anything interesting that people generally wouldn’t know about you?

(Pauses for a bit) It is a language mess at my home! My wife is Russian and I am Portuguese. Our two kids speak all three languages- Russian, Portuguese and English. They speak Portuguese to me, Russian to my wife and they switch between the two when speaking to each other. I learnt how to speak Russian and my wife learnt Portuguese. Therefore we all understand each other but it is really a mess!

What are your kids like?

I have 2 girls- Tova and Emma. Tova is 7 and Emma is 3. They are completely different! The only things they share is that they are both girls with curly hair! Tova is very smart and incredibly artistic. When she is drawing, nothing can distract her!

Emma comes up with the craziest stories. For example when tucking her in once, I told her “sleep tight and dream with happy birds” as my mother used to say to me. But then she replied that she wanted to dream with crazy birds who had elephant trunks and made pig noises. Tova joined her too. So now every night, it’s our ritual to describe the crazy birds we are going to dream with that night!

Did you ever had a life changing moment?

Having kids changes your life.

I have also been in some scary situations. I was once almost in a terrible car accident with my girlfriend at the time and her brother. There was oil on the road and the car in front of us crashed and was sliding back towards us. I was trying to turn my car. I don’t know how but the next thing I know, I was back on the road and we were safe. I was very lucky but was terribly shaken. It’s moments like these that make you realize that you are powerless in some situations. You can try to prepare for them but you cannot do anything while they are happening.

What song describes you the best?

Well, I know a song that my wife would say that describes me the best. Its called 59th Street Bridge by Simon and Garfunkel. The song basically says “slow down, you move too fast” It relates with my attitude on life. I am the type of person who prefers to relax and enjoy things rather than trying to do everything.

Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, do you have any relationship advice for the lonely engineers out there?

We don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day on the 14th, maybe like a week after. It is really hard to get reservations and everything is expensive on that day. I find it to be a very commercial holiday. My friend who worked as a florist explained to me how Valentine’s Day flowers are prepared. They get the flowers in the summer, when they are cheaper and more accessible and freeze them in liquid nitrogen. Then they defrost them during this holiday to last for a day or two.

Why are your Calculus tests so difficult?

I know it is pretty hard and my tests do not have a predictable pattern. It’s just that I want students to truly understand the math rather than just plugging in memorized formulas that they will forget after the final.

My tests are also not just written by me, they are collaborations with the other instructors. I set the initial tone for the test but my questions gets re-written sometimes by them because it’s too easy or too hard. I don’t fail more students than any other coordinators. I am very happy when students do extremely well and I am disappointed when no one gets 100% on any of my tests.

What do you expect the 1T9 class average will be at the end of this semester?

Honestly, I am not sure. It really depends on the students. I expect about a 70% but will be upset if it is below 65%.  

Would you like to see more about Prof. Sousa?

Visit http://uoft.me/beni to check out some cARTOONS and fUNNY Stuff created by Professor Sousa!

image: http://www.joeraffe.com/plasticski/cartoon/03_strange.html

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