The inaugural presentation of the Dr. Jon Lien Memorial Scholarship took place recently on the St. John’s campus of Memorial University. The award was established to commemorate the lives of Dr. Jon Lien, and his student Dr. Deane Renouf, both formerly with the Department of Psychology at Memorial.
“The award is for an entering full-time graduate student who is entering a program in marine biology or animal behavior, marine conservation, coastal community revitalization or current fisheries challenges,” explained Dr. Faye Murrin, associate dean of Graduate studies.
Chelsey Lawrence, a masters student with the Department of Biology, is the first recipient of the award and “is the first of a legacy of talented new students eligible for this scholarship that will embrace the problems and love the questions,” according to Ms. Judy Lien, widow of Dr. Lien.
Ms. Lawrence has been a student at Memorial since 2007 and completed her undergraduate studies with an honours in Biology.
“My project focuses on the anthropogenic affects of logging and cabin development on the coastal river otter population,” she explained. “I have been involved in biology since I was 13 and I’ve always wanted to do something with otters. When I was told I could do this research project I jumped at the opportunity and I am very honoured to be here today.”
Edna Hall, a former Parks Canada employee and colleague of Dr. Lien, said that he was a visionary who realized that life was short and we all have a duty to make the best of it.
“He realized early in his life that we all only have so many years to achieve our goals and dreams, and that the real skill is in developing the talents of others – especially that of youth – to continue making this a better place,” she said. “That is why I know he would be so pleased the first awarding of his scholarship was to a youth from this province who is doing work and research at one of his national parks – he used to remind me that these were his national parks and I was just looking after them for him.”
“I feel his mentoring now has come full circle and Jon is helping pass on some of his tremendous legacy again to another young person,” added Ms. Hall. I know he is pleased today.”
Speaking on behalf of the family of graduate students Dr. Lien taught, Catherine Hood echoed the sentiment.
“Jon believed knowledge had to be shared. You would never keep knowledge to yourself. It was to be brought forth to be used in a constructive way to make a difference,” she said. “He trusted us to go out and be responsible for what we were doing. He gave us the opportunities, but we had to carry forth and accomplish, and in that accomplishment we realized just what we could do.”
On behalf of her family, Donald McKay, a friend of Dr. Lien also spoke of the powerful mentoring effect Dr. Lien had on Dr. Renouf. In researching information about her online, he came across an article in Marine Mammal Science about her.
Reading from the article he said: “Throughout her life, Deane never paid attention to the rules as others wrote them, but resolutely forged her way with energy, optimism and creativity. It is this originality that made her such an important researcher, and a dynamic, courageous and engaging woman.”
“I think that describes both Jon and Deane to a tee”, said Dr. McKay. “They were two peas in a pod. So Chelsey, you have a real challenge as you not only have one pair of boots to fill, but two big pairs of boots to fill. You are certainly privileged and I know you feel that way to be the inaugural recipient of this prestigious scholarship.”
As part of the presentation, Ms. Lawrence received a check and a letterpress placard created by Marnie Parsons and Rosalind Ford – Running the Goat Press.