Memorial University of Newfoundland recognized the efforts of some of its best educators, researchers and staff members during a special ceremony today at the Fluvarium in St. John’s.
Twelve faculty and staff members were honoured at the reception, hosted by Dr. Eddy Campbell, acting president and vice-chancellor of Memorial.
“Our 2008 award winners are dedicated teachers, researchers and employees nominated by their peers,” said Dr. Campbell. “They’ve helped their students to discover their own ingenuity, they’ve carried out important and groundbreaking research, and inspired their co-workers as a consequence of their dedication to their work and to Memorial.
“We’ve built a reputation as one of the best universities for its size in Canada, and I want to thank each of you for contributing to our growth and development.”
During the ceremony, Memorial presented three for outstanding research, two for distinguished teaching, one for exceptional community service, and five for exemplary service, and recognized the efforts of one professor who received a national award.
Dr. Anand Yethiraj, Physics and Physical Oceanography, is this year’s recipient of the President’s Award for Outstanding Research, while Dr. Peter Pope, Anthropology and Archaeology, and Dr. Xiaoqiang Zhao, Mathematics and Statistics, each received the distinction of University Research Professor.
Dr. Valerie Legge, English, and Dr. Maureen Volk, Music, were presented with the President’s Awards for Distinguished Teaching, while Dr. Wade Locke, Economics, was honoured with the President’s Award for Exceptional Community Service.
Five Memorial employees received the President’s Awards for Exemplary Service. They included: Judy Casey, Student Affairs and Services; Moya Crocker, Engineering and Applied Science; Debbie Earles, Atlantic Computational Excellence Network (ACEnet), Denise Hooper, Student Affairs and Services; and Ginny Ryan, The Writing Centre.
Meanwhile, Dr. TA Loeffler, a professor in the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, was recognized at the ceremony for her achievement in being named a 3M Teaching Fellow, recognizing her as one of the top university teachers in the country.
Memorial began its annual presentation of the University Research Professor designations and the Awards for Outstanding Research in 1984, and the Distinguished Teaching Awards in 1988, as ways of singling out particularly distinguished contributions within its academic community. Exemplary Service Awards were introduced in 1995.
The President’s Award for Outstanding Research recognizes researchers who have made outstanding contributions to their scholarly disciplines. Each award includes a $5,000 research grant. University Research Professors have acquired a designation above the rank of professor. The title is the most prestigious award the university gives for research, and goes to faculty who have demonstrated a consistently high level of scholarship and whose research is of a truly international stature. The designation carries with it a $4,000 research grant (each year for five years) and a reduced teaching schedule. President’s Awards for Distinguished Teaching recognize the teaching excellence in the university community. Each winner of the teaching award receives a $5,000 grant contributed by the Memorial University Alumni Association, Office of the President, and Instructional Development Office/Distance Education and Learning Technologies. The President’s Award for Exceptional Community Service and the President’s Award for Exemplary Service each carry a $1,000 award, respectively.
Biographical notes on award recipients
President’s Award for Outstanding Research:
Dr. Anand Yethiraj has a B.Sc. in Physics from St. Xavier’s College in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, an M.Sc. degree from the University of Houston and a PhD from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. He did postdoctoral research in the field of soft condensed matter using two very different experimental techniques, confocal optical microscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance, and in two very different but stimulating laboratory settings, one in Amsterdam and Utrecht in The Netherlands, and the other in Vancouver. He has published 24 peer-reviewed publications, including an invited review article and a book chapter. Thus far, his most influential work involves the design of a new experimental model system to study colloidal phase transitions. This work, published in 2003, has been cited on more than 175 occasions. At Memorial since 2005, Dr. Yethiraj has set up a research laboratory for the study of soft condensed matter. Funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the laboratory is equipped with optical, rheological and NMR experimental equipment, and provides a diverse environment for student researchers.
University Research Professors:
Dr. Peter Pope received his BA from Princeton University, an M.Litt. from Oxford, and an MA in anthropology from Memorial in 1986. He went on to complete his PhD in history from Memorial in 1992. Dr. Pope first came to Newfoundland in 1973 as a cabinetmaker. Since starting his career at Memorial in 1988, he has had many appointments including professor of anthropology and archaeology, chair of Maritime Studies Research Unit, assistant professor of history and since 2006 has been head of the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology. Among his numerous refereed papers and accomplishments,
Dr. Pope was elected as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, Britain’s oldest research body for archaeological and material culture studies. Between 2000 and 2005, Dr. Pope directed the Newfoundland Archaeological Heritage Outreach Program, which has had a significant impact on community-based archaeological research in this province. In 2004 he published Fish into Wine: The Newfoundland Plantation in the Seventeenth Century, which has won national and international awards and is commonly cited as an authoritative source on early-modern Newfoundland. Dr. Pope’s research focuses on the cod fisheries in the 16th and 17th centuries and the role of fisher folk played in the larger Atlantic world.
Dr. Xiaoqiang Zhao received his BS and MS degrees in mathematics from Northwest University in Xi’an, China. In 1990, he completed his PhD at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China. After fellowships, research and teaching at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Universities of Dundee, Sheffield, New England (Australia), McMaster, Alberta, as well as Arizona State University, Dr. Zhao was appointed as assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Memorial in 1999 and promoted to professor in 2005.
Dr. Zhao has published 70 research papers in renowned journals such as Communications on Pure and Applied Mathematics, which is among the top five journals in its field, as well as Journal of Differential Equations and the SIAMJournal of Mathematical Analysis. He has had more than 40 publications since his arrival at Memorial including a research monograph Dynamical Systems in Population Biology (Springer-Verlag, 2003), which has become a standard reference in the field. He is on the board of directors of the Canadian Mathematical Society and editor of three international journals. Dr. Zhao, whose research is in the areas of applied dynamical systems, nonlinear differential equations, and mathematical biology, has been a much sought-after speaker at many major international conferences. He is also noted as one of the main players in establishing the mathematical foundation for monotone dynamical systems and the persistence theory in mathematical biology, which deals with the critical issue of extinction, persistence and disease eradication of interacting species.
President’s Awards for Distinguished Teaching:
Dr. Maureen Volk received her bachelor of music degree from the University of Regina, a master of music from The Juilliard School, and a doctorate from Indiana University. She has performed as a recitalist, orchestral soloist and chamber musician in Canada and the United States. Her solo CD entitled Schubert and Debussy has recently been released by Centaur Records, and her second CD, a collaboration with MUN alumnus Thomas Yee consisting of Canadian works for two pianos, is in progress. Dr. Volk has been on faculty at Memorial University since 1979 and served as director of the School of Music from 1990-2000. She currently teaches piano, piano literature and pedagogy, and aural skills. A native of rural Saskatchewan, Dr. Volk is an avid reader and an enthusiastic fan of Sea-Hawks basketball.
Dr. Valerie Legge received her BA in English and Classics from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1982 and her B.Ed. in 1984. A year later she graduated from Memorial with her MA and earned her PhD in 1990. She started lecturing in the Department of English Language and Literature in 1986, became an assistant professor in 1995 and was named professor in 2006. During her 22 years of service to Memorial University, she has taught a wide range and variety of courses, both graduate and undergraduate, in the Department of English, Women’s Studies and the Master of Philosophy (Humanities) Program.
Dr. Legge’s main areas of research are Canada’s exploration literature and our first wave of women writers. She has published poetry in Wascana Review, TickleAce and Land, Sea and Time (an anthology); book reviews on Newfoundland poets and novelists; and numerous essays on Canadian, American and European women writers and travellers. She regularly presents her research at national and international conferences. Dr. Legge is currently completing a biography titled Agnes C. Laut: “Only a Rough Neck Woman” based on the professional activities of one of Canada’s earliest and most successful “lady journalists.”
President’s Award for Exceptional Community Service
Dr. Wade Locke has a BA and a B.Sc. from Memorial University, where he received a gold medal for academic excellence in Economics, an MA from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., and a PhD in Economics from McMaster. Dr. Locke’s longstanding academic interest has been to study the impact of various economic sectors and activities in Newfoundland and Labrador and Atlantic Canada. In addition to his scholarly activities – which include more than 200 publications – Dr. Locke has made a deliberate effort to communicate the results of his research in a manner that is accessible to the public, the media and politicians. Among the issues he has helped dissect are the Atlantic Accord, federal transfer payments to the provinces, and the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro, just to name a few. He has given more than 1,000 interviews with local, national and international media in an effort to make his research more accessible to the public. His presentations at conferences and his frequent participation in panel discussions have advanced immeasurably the public discourse on important policy issues.
Judy Casey - Originally from Conche on the Northern Peninsula, Judy Casey graduated from Memorial University in 1987 with a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of education. She taught for a short time in Black Tickle, a remote community in Northern Labrador, and has been working at Memorial as manager of Scholarships and Awards in the Department of Student Affairs and Services since 1990 except for the period from June 1999 – September 2000 when she was acting director of General Student Services. In her position as manager of Scholarships and Awards she is also responsible for out-of-province student aid as well as U.S. student aid. For most of the time she has been employed at Memorial Ms. Casey has been a member of the national and regional Student
Services Associations know as CACUSS and AUCUSS respectively as well as a member of the Canadian Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators – CASFAA. She was CASFAA regional representative for all post-secondary institutions in Atlantic Canada in 1997-1998. She was also an Atlantic representative on the National Scholarship Selection Committee of the AUCC from 1995–2001.
Moya Crocker - Moya Crocker is an academic program administrator for the associate deans of Graduate Studies and Research for the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. She has been with the engineering faculty for the past 24 years. Prior to joining the faculty, she spent four years with the Cashier’s Office. Since joining the university, she has worked closely with eight associate deans and many faculty members. In addition, she also works with local, national and international engineering graduate students from the start of their programs to convocation. In fact, Ms. Crocker has been instrumental in the growth of the faculty’s graduate programs – from its 50 students in 1984 to its current enrolment of almost 300. Ms. Crocker’s professional development includes certificates in supervisory skills, and workplace communication. In 2004, she was the first recipient of the Dean’s Award for Exemplary Service from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. She also sits on the board of studies for graduate professional programs and on the Awards and Medals sub-committee. She holds a secretarial business education diploma.
Debbie Earles - Debbie Earles arrived at Memorial in June 2002 and is currently the operations manager for ACEnet, a 10-member high performance computing consortium in Atlantic Canada, led by and hosted at Memorial. She was originally hired within the Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography as administrative officer for the Advanced Computation and Visualization Centre and worked in support of the application submitted to the Canadian Foundation for Innovation which resulted in a $9.9 million award for the ACEnet project. In addition to financial management and office administration, Ms. Earles’ duties include human resource management, multi-site equipment purchasing and delivery, dealing with government funding agencies (such as CFI and ACOA). She also has experience in organizing conferences and conducting workshops. She was a liaison for HPCS 2006, a national conference which brought researchers to MUN from across Canada and internationally.
Denise Hooper - Denise Hooper was born and raised in Red Harbour, Placentia Bay. After high school Ms. Hooper pursued a bachelor of arts (’94) and a diploma in adult education (’96) from Memorial University. Following university, Ms. Hooper worked in the field of adult and post-secondary education in the
private, not-for-profit and public sectors holding positions in senior administration, employment/career counselling, instruction and facilitation. During October 2000 she began her employment with Memorial University as a student recruitment officer and then senior student recruitment officer and credits these positions to providing her with the opportunity to work in every province in Canada and almost every community in Newfoundland and Labrador. In August of 2006 Ms. Hooper transitioned to the position of senior career development co-ordinator with the Career Development and Experiential Learning and the Faculty of Arts. Since that time she has provided career direction to hundreds of arts students and has implemented the ArtsWorks program. She recently graduated with the master’s in education program (post-secondary) (’08 Fellow) focusing her research on student engagement, retention and success. Ms. Hooper is engaged in many student activities and is committed to providing students with the necessary tools for success.
Virginia (Ginny) Ryan - Ginny Ryan has been the director of Memorial University’s Writing Centre for the past 11 years. Since the day of her appointment she has focused on the mission with which she was then charged: to make the Writing Centre as accessible and responsive to the Memorial University community as possible. She was therefore particularly moved when in 2006 she received the Glenn Roy Blundon Award for fostering accessible learning for students with disabilities. She is also committed to collaborating with the provincial school system to assist students in making the transition from high school to university – particularly with regard to university-level reading and writing expectations – and has long been involved in projects designed to address this transition. Ms. Ryan holds a BA (honours) in Anthropology/Folklore from Marlboro College in Vermont, a B.Ed. (high school) from Memorial University, and an MA in English, also from Memorial, for which she was awarded the University Medal of Excellence in Graduate Studies. For 17 years prior to her appointment to MUN’s Writing Centre, she worked as a teacher in some unusually varied settings – for six years she taught in multigrade schools in Labrador, after which she worked as a communication skills instructor at the Marine Institute and at College of the North Atlantic. Her most memorable experience at the college was the summer she spent teaching at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary, and found that she learned far more than she taught. An avid reader and writer, Ms. Ryan has had both scholarly and creative pieces published in Canadian journals and anthologies.
3M National Teaching Fellowship:
Dr. TA Loeffler received a bachelor of arts (outdoor education) from Prescott College in Arizona, an MS in experiential education at Minnesota State University-Mankato and her PhD at the University of Minnesota. She has received international and national recognition for her innovative teaching and motivational speaking. In June of 2008, Dr. Loeffler was awarded a prestigious 3M National Teaching Fellowship. In 2008, Minnesota State University-Mankato named her one of two 2008 Distinguished Alumnus. In 2007, she received the Karl Rhonke Creativity Award from the Association of Experiential Education. In 2006, the Globe and Mail named Dr. Loeffler a “Class Act” and she received the Association of Atlantic Universities Distinguished Teaching Award. The Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport named her to their 2006 Top 20 Most Influential Women in Canadian Sport and Physical Activity List. Additionally, TA received the Memorial University Presidents Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2005 and the Association for Experiential Education named TA the Outstanding Experiential Teacher of the Year in 1999. Dr. Loeffler is known as much for her exploits outside the classroom as in. After summiting Mount McKinley in 2005, she set a goal of climbing the seven summits, the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. Her summits include Aconcagua in South America and Kilimanjaro in Africa. She has attempted Europe's Mount Elbrus and Asia's Mount Everest. She has recently returned from Pumori, a 7,161-metre peak that sits across the valley from Mount Everest. This climb was dedicated to her mother and raising funds for breast cancer research.