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Dr. Chris Kaposy

Health ethics, faculty of Medicine

In his role as assistant professor of health ethics in the Division of Community Health and Humanities, Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Chris Kaposy will be teaching in the ethics curriculum for medical students. He is also a clinical ethicist with Eastern Health, which involves ethics consultation service for the whole province.

Dr. Kaposy describes himself as having a “curious mind” that has led him into involvement in a number of health care ethics issues.

“One longstanding research interest of mine is in ethical and policy issues in abortion care,” he explained. “I also have an interest in the field of ‘neuroethics’ – which is the study of ethical issues that arise as a result of advances in neuroscience, psychiatry, or in technologies used to treat or enhance the brain.”

Recently Dr. Kaposy has become immersed in the ethics of vaccine research and vaccination programs. “In particular I have been studying the ethical risks associated with refusing to conduct vaccine research with pregnant women. I’ve also been studying how vaccine manufacturers’ fear of liability inhibits such research, and strategies for overcoming the fear of liability.”

Dr. Kaposy is also interested in disability theory and disability rights – particularly as they relate to cognitive disability.

Dr. Kaposy has an undergraduate degree in philosophy with a minor in German from McMaster University, an MA in philosophy from Concordia in Montreal, and a PhD in philosophy from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. His PhD in bioethics focused on the care of infants and society’s obligations towards infants from an ethical perspective. He then did a postdoctoral fellowship in the ethics of health research and policy at Dalhousie University and taught in the Dalhousie Department of Philosophy for a year before joining the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial.

Dr. Dorothy Vaandering

Faculty of Education

Dr. Dorothy Vaandering has been appointed assistant professor in the Faculty of Education. Her principle teaching area is primary-elementary social studies.

In June she completed her SSHRC-funded doc­toral research at the University of Western Ontario (London, Ont.), examining the impact of restorative justice on Ontario public schools. Restorative justice has been introduced to schools in Canada in the last several years, and acknowledges justice as honouring the inherent worth of all and being enacted through relationship.

“When something occurs that undermines the well-being of some, a space is provided for dialogue whereby the dignity of all involved and affected can be restored so that each can once again become a fully contributing member of their community,” Dr. Vaandering explained.

Dr. Vaandering will continue her research in this field in an effort to increase the sustainability of restorative justice, which seeks to replace rule-based school cultures with relationship-based cultures. This research, when combined with her extensive ex­perience teaching pri­mary/elementary grades and writing social studies curriculum provide a rich foundation for the position she holds at Memorial.

“I see coming to MUN as a gift,” she added. “Here I have a space and place in which I can use and share my experiences and interests in a vibrant, welcoming context. And as I interact within that space and place I know that I will continue to be blessed and challenged with what the faculty and student body will teach me.”

Dr. Charles Mather

Department of Geography

Dr. Charles Mather arrived at Memorial in January 2009 from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he had worked for 14 years. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Witwatersrand, an MA from University of British Columbia and a PhD from Queen’s in Kingston, Ont.

The new head of the geography department, Dr. Mather’s research interests have focused on the impact of globalization and market liberalization on food and agriculture in South and Southern Africa. Recently he has become interested in exploring biosecurity in farmed animals.

He is currently enjoying teaching Geography 1050 to a “great class of interested/interesting students.” Dr. Mather has found Memorial to be very welcoming and says that his is a great department to lead. “I work with a group of fellow geography colleagues who are committed to both teaching and research.”

In his spare time Dr. Mather is enjoying the great outdoors that Newfoundland is famous for and spends his spare time hiking, fishing and berry picking with his family.

Dr. Neil Kennedy

Department of History

Dr. Neil Kennedy, assistant professor of the history of the Atlantic World, arrives at Memorial from the Department of History at McMaster University. As a specialist in 17th century Bermuda, his research interests encompass all of the Atlantic and Caribbean islands. His teaching interests include the Atlantic slave trade, New World slavery, maritime cultures, early modern global trade, Caribbean and American history, the plantation, early modern environmental and gender history, and explorations of the material and sensory worlds of the 17th-century Atlantic.

Born in London, England, Dr. Kennedy holds graduate degrees in the history of the Atlantic world from the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Western Ontario, in historical archaeology from the College of William and Mary, and an undergraduate degree in anthropology and history from the University of Toronto.

His current research orientation includes two parallel projects, one of which is to explore the 17th century ecological history of Bermuda in relation to the impact of the colony's maritime orientation and the other is an exploration of the colony's credit and debt records. The resources provided by the Maritime History Archive, and the Maritime Studies Research Unit, make Memorial an ideal location for his research.

Dr. James Valcour

Epidemiology, faculty of Medicine

Dr. James Valcour knows what it means when a “boil water” order is issued. He is an expert on Giardia, com­monly known as “beaver fever.”

As a new member of the Division of Community Health and Humanities in the Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Valcour brings expertise on infectious diseases and climate change.

When it comes to Giardia, he explained that “this waterborne parasite is not easily treated by chlorination.” The result is that municipalities have to either use special filters or issue a boil water order advisory.

Dr. Valcour has a B.Sc. (microbiology) from the University of Guelph and a M.Sc. from the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College. He then worked at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island before returning to the Ontario Veterinary College for his PhD.

“My dissertation looked at the association between climate, agriculture and enteric disease in New Brunswick,” he said. “It was part of a larger project examining climate change and water-borne disease in Canada.”

Dr. Valcour said that temperature is linked to enteric disease incidence and snow melt is associated with an increase in Giardia and other water-borne diseases.

At Memorial, Dr. Valcour will continue to study climate change and infectious disease. He is particularly interested in the health needs of the Labrador Métis community.