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REF NO.: 45
SUBJECT: Memorial University faculty members receive awards for teaching and research excellence
DATE: Nov. 14
Memorial University has recognized the efforts of its best teachers and researchers at a special ceremony held on Nov. 13, 2002, in the St. John's Arts and Culture Centre.
Six Memorial faculty members were honored at the reception, four for outstanding research, and two for distinguished teaching.
Dr. Yuri Bahturin, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and Dr. Gerald Pocius, Department of Folklore, were each named University Research Professors, the highest rank the university bestows upon its faculty. Dr. Sharon Roseman, Department of Anthropology, and Dr. Christopher Kovacs, Faculty of Medicine, each received the President's Award for Outstanding Research. Ed Andrews and Jean Guthrie were each awarded the President's Award for Distinguished Teaching.
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.
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. 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 truly international stature. The designation carries with it a $4,000 research grant (each year for five years) and a reduced teaching schedule.
Biographical notes on award recipients:
University Research Professor
Dr. Gerald Pocius, Department of Folklore
By the time he had finished his MA at Memorial University, Gerald Pocius had already published four articles, two in respected journals in the field. Within two years, he had been invited to join the editorial board of the Material History Bulletin and to become the bibliographer for the monumental Modern Languages Association International Bibliography. This was the auspicious beginning to what had been an exceptionally productive and wide-ranging scholarly career. Dr. Pocius has published five books, 60 articles and given over one hundred papers at national and international conferences. He has moved the scope of folklore at Memorial beyond its beginnings in lore and language to include material culture and is considered Canada's leading scholar in that field.
While probably best known for his work in vernacular architecture, Dr. Pocius has also worked on textile traditions, folk medicine, cemetery art, religious iconography, furniture, popular music and, most importantly, theories of material culture and space.
A member of the editorial board of Newfoundland Studies since its inception, he was appointed associate editor of the Journal of American Folklore - the principal journal in his discipline - in 1990 and offered the editor's chair in 1999.
Major awards followed inevitably from such work. In 1985, he was made a Research Fellow by the National Endowment for the Humanities in the United States. In 1988, Memorial gave him the President's Award for Outstanding Research and in 1990 he was made Bell Lecturer by Mount Allison University.
When A Place to Belong, a study of the Southern Shore community of Calvert, was published in 1991, it met with widespread acclaim from within and outside the academic community, receiving three major book awards. Its importance to folklore was recognized when it won the Chicago Folklore Prize, the major accolade of that discipline and one that has marked its major contributions since 1928.
University Research Professor
Dr. Yuri Bahturin, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Since coming to Memorial in 1999 as a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Dr. Yuri Bahturin has continued to make his mark in the field of algebra. His research has given him international recognition and the respect of eminent mathematicians worldwide. So it should come as no surprise that he has just been awarded the title of University Research Professor.
Dr. Bahturin began his study of algebra in Russia where he received an M.Sc. and a PhD from the Moscow State University. After receiving his PhD, he worked at Moscow State University until 1999 when he accepted a position as visiting professor at the University of Southern California.
He was attracted to the study of mathematics because of its clearness and rigorousness. "It is not like something can be true and false at the same time, in mathematics it has to be one or the other," he said. "What attracted me to mathematics was trying to find some absolute truth in science."
According to Dr. Bahturin, algebra is one of the most abstract areas of mathematics, yet an area with many immediate applications, for instance, group theory is widely used in crystallography, chemistry and physics. "If you want to describe complicated processes in nature, numbers are not sufficient. What you need is the representation of groups, which can be found using algebra."
Dr. Bahturin has been hard at work researching Groups, Rings, Lie and Hopf algebras. His research has attracted graduate students to the program, and led to the organization of two international workshops.
Dr. Herb Gaskill, head of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, said Dr. Bahturin is an outstanding scholar with a worldwide reputation for excellence.
"He not only brings his ability to perform fundamental research to Memorial, but also his ability to attract other outstanding mathematicians to Memorial as a place to find excellence."
When asked how he feels about receiving such an award, Dr. Bahturin says, "This award will allow me to spend more time on my research, attract more graduate students, two of whom will join our PhD program in January 2003, and also give me support to travel and invite people here. I am very pleased."
Aside from this not a lot has changed for Dr. Bahturin. He will continue to do what he does best - research.
"I have a lot of work to continue to do. I have already written five books and some people are telling me that I need to write another on the research that I am doing now. But I plan to continue my research for now. As long as I am able I have to do more research. Maybe sometime later there will be quiet time to write about it."
President's Award for Outstanding Research
Dr. Sharon Roseman, Department of Anthropology
For Dr. Sharon Roseman, being a social anthropologist is more than a career. "Social anthropologists often think about our discipline as a way of life," she said. "We understand the contrast between being immersed in the discipline's literature and being embedded in the messy, often contradictory circumstances of people's lives in the field. To understand a culture, you must experience it."
Dr. Roseman is an associate professor in Memorial's Department of Anthropology. She joined Memorial in 1995, after holding a two-year SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Since 1989, her research has focused on economic and social change, as well as on gender, language, and class consciousness in Spanish Galicia, an Atlantic region in northwestern Spain.
"Through living in the village of Santiago de Carreira as a participant-observer, I learned about the expectations and meanings associated with the most subtle aspects of interpersonal interactions; about the metaphorical use of language; about the ways in which historical consciousness intrudes on everyday life as well as on ideas about the future; about the full significance of gender, family, and class relationships; about friendship; and about defending one's home," said Dr. Roseman.
She considered the economic and social significance of the labour that women villagers have expended in paid labour as well as in unpaid housework, child and elder care, subsistence agriculture, animal husbandry, inter-household exchange and community-wide projects within the context of late 20th century global capitalism. She has also explored the tensions between documentary and oral history and has written about how the villagers from Santiago de Carreira construct and recount politicized historical narratives to contradict "official" understandings of local economic development projects. Her current research project deals with the impacts on rural areas of the obligatory "social service" that unmarried Spanish women between 18 and 35 years of age performed under the Franco dictatorship as a counterpart to men's military service.
Through her research in the Galician context, Dr. Roseman's aim has been to contribute to a comparative project of deepening our understanding of rural Europeans' reactions to the processes associated with labour migration, economic globalization, increased governmental regulation and surveillance, and urban-based social movements.
Dr. Roseman has edited or co-edited three volumes of papers and her publications have appeared in major international journals including American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Dialectical Anthropology, Anthropologica, Cultural Anthropology, Feminist Studies, and the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. She is currently completing a book manuscript about Santiago de Carreira and is involved in a number of team publishing projects.
Dr. Roseman is also dedicated to supporting the next generation of researchers. "One of the most gratifying aspects of my job is to pass on my research skills to others. I enjoy hearing about students' fieldwork and working with them on their analysis of field data and ethnographic writing."
President's Award for Outstanding Research
Dr. Christopher S. Kovacs, Faculty of Medicine
As an endocrinologist in the Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Christopher Kovacs has established his own laboratory and independent research career during the five years he has been at Memorial. His main research is on calcium and bone metabolism, in part exploring the regulation of mineral transfer across the placenta in late gestation and the formation of the fetal skeleton.
Dr. Kovacs uses genetically engineered mice to examine how skeletal and placental physiology is disrupted when a hormone or receptor of interest is deleted. "The work has been especially challenging because I am attempting to obtain physiological data from fetuses that are typically about one centimeter in length." Dr. Kovacs' research might one day affect how osteoporosis and similar conditions are treated in humans. He is also studying how calcium is temporarily borrowed from the mother's skeleton during lactation (breastfeeding). "In mice, mothers can lose a full one-third of their skeleton in three weeks of lactation, but this skeletal mass is later regained. Studying what happens to mice during pregnancy and lactation will give some clues as to what happens in humans."
The success of Dr. Kovacs' research efforts has been recognized in a number of ways. He received a five-year Scholarship Award from the Medical Research Council of Canada (now Canadian Institutes of Health Research) in 1999 and a three-year operating grant; in 2002 he received a five-year renewal of that operating grant worth more than $766,000. He has received eight Young Investigator and Travel awards by international organizations since 1995, and many of his research abstracts have been selected by meeting committees for oral presentations. He has been an invited speaker at national and international meetings, and is a peer reviewer for several scientific journals.
Dr. Kovacs has collaborations with researchers in the bone field throughout the world, and he is a principal investigator for several multi-centre clinical trails involving therapies for osteoporosis and diabetes. Separately, he spends about 20 per cent of his time in clinical practice, specializing in endocrinology and metabolism.
Dr. Kovacs is also proud that he has recently supervised two graduate students in basic research projects that involved studying fetal calcium homeostasis in genetically engineered mice. Among them, the two students won four awards for excellence in research, including an award for the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.
Distinguished Teaching Award
Ed Andrews, Environmental Science, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College
What makes an excellent teacher? While there is no definitive list of ingredients, there are certain qualities shared by "excellent" teachers: integrity, clarity, enthusiasm, confidence, respect, innovation, endurance, patience - all of which are reflected in Ed Andrews' approach to teaching.
As one of Memorial's Distinguished Teachers for 2002, Mr. Andrews is receiving one of the most prestigious awards that Memorial bestows on its faculty members. Mr. Andrews, a professor of biology in Grenfell's environmental science program, has been a college faculty member since 1976, one year after the college was founded.
Over the last quarter century he has consistently proven the effectiveness of his teaching. In addition to being extremely well organized, Mr. Andrews is genuinely enthusiastic and interested in what he teaches.
"This enthusiasm always manages to rub off on his classes, so that many students in turn develop a passion and interest for biology," said Dr. Georg Gunther, head of science at Grenfell. "Ed also has a keen and genuine interest in his students as individuals. This has been a dominant theme over the years, and students have repeatedly expressed their realization and appreciation of this fact. To me, this is perhaps the single most important quality of any outstanding teacher, and it is a quality that no amount of education or professional development will provide - the genuine interest in the student."
Mr. Andrews also has an interest in computer-assisted pedagogy which eventually led him to his secondment to the position of the first manager of Computing and Communications. His interest in IT and software eventually helped build the IT infrastructure at Grenfell College.
For past decade or so Professor Andrews has been involved with the Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE). He served for two terms on the board of directors and most recently held a three-year position as editor of the ABLE publication Labstracts. One of his lasting contributions to the association was overseeing the conversion of Labstracts from a standard print publication to a Web-based format.
"He has taught a generation of students, opening the minds of many to the wonders of the biological sciences," said Dr. Gunther.
Simply put, Professor Andrews has accomplished much of this because of an elementary belief of his: "Good teachers are always learning."
Distinguished Teaching Award
Jean Guthrie, Department of English Language and Literature
Jean Guthrie, an associate professor in the Department of English, is one of this year's recipients of the Distinguished Teaching Award. Ms. Guthrie received her MA (hons.) in English Literature and Latin from the University of Edinburgh along with a master's in Latin from McMaster University. She has also studied at Moray House in Edinburgh and Purdue University.
"The undergraduate courses I most enjoy teaching are writing courses," said Ms. Guthrie, who has been teaching at Memorial since 1968. "But the name is misleading. We read, we write, we talk, we listen, we write again. Students are thinking and writing about ideas and values, and about the forms and patterns they are given in writing. "I believe the best teaching of English brings together the love of language chosen and shaped to speak eloquently of human experience; and the desire and know-how to guide developing writers."
A former English student, Debra Gill, said "Professor Guthrie has been a positive, driving force in my life for the past several years. Due to Professor Guthrie's incredible teaching methods it was during the 2010 course that I found my voice, my confidence and my goal for the future." In 1994, Ms. Guthrie along with Dr. Phyllis Artiss, Dr. Penny Hansen (Medicine), Dr. Michael Collins (Biology), and Dr. Clar Doyle (Education) developed the Graduate Program in Teaching (GPT) in order to strengthen both graduate and undergraduate education at Memorial. The GPT is a one-semester, non-credit course that introduces graduate students to the art of university teaching. Participants come from all faculties and departments of the university.
"Jean Guthrie has that most enviable of traits - innate and genuine tolerance, not the studied kind," said John Kenney, mature student. "She treated everyone in class not just as equals, but also as equally significant; she was obviously blind to ageism, and all other isms."
In collaboration with Dr. William Barker, Ms. Guthrie has published on Renaissance pedagogy and Alciato's emblems; and she has presented papers on the teaching of writing at local, national and international meetings. "I want my classroom to be a place of respectful and exhilarating exchange where I learn from students as well as the other way around," said Ms. Guthrie.
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