Faculty of HSS welcomes new Associate Dean, Research

Jun 14th, 2022

Chad Pelley

The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences has a new Associate Dean of Research on a one year appointment. 

Dr. Liam Swiss was the Department Head of Sociology before assuming the role of Associate Dean, Research.

As a faculty member here at Memorial, he has taught courses in development sociology, political sociology, gender, and research methods.

As a researcher, Dr. Swiss investigates the political sociology of foreign aid and international development.

He is currently in the process of wrapping up the final publications from two Insight Grants he received from the Government of Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) prior to 2022.

“One is on foreign aid and global norms, and the other on Canadian aid policy (with a groups of colleagues across Canada).”

With his administrative duties as Department Head and now Associate Dean edging in on his research time, he says his research priority for 2022 will be to focus on his current SSHRC Insight Grant project on immigrant remittance sending from Canada to aid-receiving low- and middle-income countries.

“Working with my research collaborator, Dr. Lisa Kaida (McMaster University) and MUN Sociology PhD candidate Heather Dicks, we are analyzing a rich Statistics Canada survey of Canadian immigrants to better understand whether and how remittance-sending behaviour is influenced by other global development flows like Canadian foreign aid.

“Our initial analyses are coming together nicely,” he says. “If you see me in the Statistics Canada Research Data Centre in the QEII library, this is what I’m doing.” 

Memorial’s Department of Sociology was an easy choice

What initially drew him to a PhD in sociology was that sociology felt like a space where he could “find the theories and research toolkit I needed to explore the issues and themes I was most interested in: global development assistance and gender inequalities.”

For similar reasons, he was drawn to Memorial University, where he eventually became Department Head.

“Memorial’s Department of Sociology  has a strong record of researchers focused on economic and social development and political sociology; something that remains less common across Canada,” he explains.

“It also was clear that the department welcomed a plurality of approaches to research and scholarship, and a home where an interdisciplinary researcher like myself could feel supported to grow and thrive.”

Paying it forward in new role

As a researcher who has himself benefitted from the support of his faculty, its Associate Dean of Research, and HSS’ Grants Facilitation Officers in the past, Dr. Swiss says he was eager to learn more about how the process of supporting researchers in our faculty works. 

When the interim position was advertised, he was “intrigued by the opportunity to ‘look under the hood’ and learn more about how all this works and at the same time do what I could to help pay it forward for other researchers in HSS.”

When he returns to his role as Department Head in May 2023, he hopes “to be better informed about my faculty and what I can do in that role to support the diverse and exciting research of my colleagues and students.”

Photo credit: Rich Blenkinsopp