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New faculty

Introducing Memorial’s new teachers and researchers

Dr. Suzanne Mills
Environmental Studies

Suzanne Mills has found the perfect place to conduct her research – Grenfell College.

“I have an affinity for people living and working in rural communities in Canada,” said Dr. Mills, a faculty member in Grenfell’s environmental studies program. “This was fostered by working as a field assistant throughout my first two degrees in many communities across Canada and the U.S.”

Dr. Mills’ research focuses on employment in natural resource sectors. She has examined the impact of gender, class and Aboriginal identity on individuals’ experiences of workplace change as well as how institutions can create more inclusive work spaces. For instance, her recent research has examined how unions are striving to better represent Aboriginal workers and engage with Aboriginal communities.

Dr. Mills completed a B.Sc. in wildlife biology at McGill University in 1998, a M.Sc. in conservation biology from the University of Alberta in 2001, and a PhD in human geography from the University of Saskatchewan in 2007. Most recently, she was a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at Queen’s University (2007-08).

In addition to research and teaching, Dr. Mills is assisting in the development of an Environmental Policy Institute and a graduate degree program in environmental policy for Grenfell College.

Dr. Robert Ormsby
English Language and Literature
Dr. Robert Ormsby is the latest addition to the Faculty of Arts’ English Department. He was hired to teach Renaissance drama, and specializes in Shakespeare in performance. Dr. Ormsby is currently teaching Shakespeare 3200 and English 1102 (a critical reading and writing course with a focus on drama).

Dr. Ormsby completed his PhD at the University of Toronto and worked as a sessional instructor there, teaching Shakespeare, Modern Drama and Theatre History for three years. He has edited Julius Caesar for Source Book Publications, and has published in Shakespeare Bulletin, Canadian Theatre Review, and In 2009, his article on a Canadian adaptation of Richard II will appear in Modern Drama. “Several years down the line, I hope to have completed and published a history of Shakespeare’s play Coriolanus on stage and on screen for Manchester University Press,” said Dr. Ormsby.

Dr. Ormsby said he is particularly impressed by the QE II Library.

“Because of the size of the faculty in the department (about 30 full-time members) and because everyone seems to be friendly in Newfoundland, the sense of collegiality is exceptional,” said Dr. Ormsby. “People in the department are remarkably kind and welcoming, and the faculty gets together regularly outside of class. There is a really positive sense of community here.”

Dr. Sharon Penney
Faculty of Education
Memorial’s Faculty of Education welcomes back Dr. Sharon Penney, who taught in the faculty during the 2005-06 academic year.

Since completing her PhD in 1997, Dr. Penney has worked as a counsellor in the school system in Alberta, a clinical psychologist with the Alberta Mental Health Board, and with the Kawartha Pine Ridge District school board as a school psychologist.

“I was working with students with a variety of learning issues,” she explained. “My main focus was children with autism spectrum disorders.” Dr. Penney is also a registered psychologist (Alberta) and is in the final stages of completing the registration process for the Newfoundland and Labrador Psychology Board.
With a Social Work degree from Memorial, master’s in education (guidance and counselling) from the University of New Brunswick, and a PhD (educational psychology-special education) from the University of Alberta, Dr. Penney is currently teaching a course called The Nature and Characteristics of Emotional and Behavioural Disorders.

Her main research interest is autism – specifically in the co-morbid mental health issues that many adolescents and young adults with autism experience.
“Depression and anxiety disorders are common,” she explained.

Dr. Andrei Igamberdiev
Department of Biology
Dr. Andrei Igamberdiev has joined the Faculty of Science as an associate professor with the Department of Biology. He obtained his Dr.Sci. from the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow), and his PhD from Voronezh State University in Russia. He has previously worked in universities in Russia, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and western Canada.

Dr. Igamberdiev’s primary research areas are photosynthesis, plant respiration, hypoxic metabolism and theoretical biology. He is currently teaching courses in plant physiology and applied ecology where he focuses on anthropogenic aspects and how these events in the modern biosphere can predict future changes.

“I’m interested in plants at different levels – molecular, whole plant and even the biospherical level,” he said. “At the moment I’m researching how plants adapt to environmental stresses such as low oxygen conditions caused by flooding.”

Dr. Igamberdiev also delves into theoretical biology. He said now is the time to develop biology not only as an experimental science, but also as a theoretical discipline.

“We need to understand relationships between theoretical biology, physics and foundations of mathematics,” he said. “We are looking at fundamental structure – or what makes living systems different from non-living systems. How these systems can sustain themselves, reproduce and be able to evolve.”

Aaron Hodgson
School of Music
A graduate of the University of Western Ontario, where he obtained a bachelor of music degree, Aaron Hodgson also holds a master of musical arts from the Yale School of Music where he is also in the process of completing his doctorate.

An accomplished solo, chamber and orchestral musician, he said he quickly settled into his first gig as a faculty member since joining Memorial in September.

“I enjoy teaching so much that words like ‘job’ or ‘work’ don't seem to apply,” he noted. “Seeing a trumpet student make progress is even more rewarding than my own improvement.”

Since taking up roots, he has also been involved in a number of projects outside the classroom. This fall, he travelled to coastal Labrador with the Brass Ensemble, gave an hour-long, solo recital which was recorded live for broadcast by CBC, and he was a semi-finalist for this year’s Montreal Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition.

“It’s been a real whirlwind, but a fun ride,” he added.

As for future projects, Mr. Hodgson said he and a Yale colleague, who currently lives in Japan, have begun commissioning new works from composers, with the goal of co-premiering them on two continents.

“I will also be performing in the section of the New Jersey Symphony for a week in April, conducted by one of my heroes, Neeme Jarvi,” he said.