Class of 2020: Award-winning sociologist and geographer elected to Royal Society of Canada

Sep 8th, 2020

By Jeff Green

From left are Drs. Eric Tenkorang and Josh Lepawsky. Photo by Rich Blenkinsopp
Class of 2020: Award-winning sociologist and geographer elected to Royal Society of Canada

A pair of internationally respected researchers from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences is receiving one of Canada’s top honours for emerging scholars.

Dr. Eric Tenkorang, associate professor, Department of Sociology, and Dr. Josh Lepawsky, professor, Department of Geography, are among 2020’s inductees to the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists (RSC).

They will be formally recognized by the society later this year.

Dr. Tenkorang is widely recognized for his trailblazing research focused on HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence.

Dr. Lepawsky is a global expert in the examination of electronic discards, or e-waste.

Influential scholars

“Memorial is incredibly proud of our newest inductees and the far-reaching impact of their truly innovative work,” said Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research).

“The Royal Society of Canada and its members have chosen to recognize Drs. Tenkorang and Lepawsky for their vast academic accomplishments and transformative research that is bringing about positive worldwide change. I offer both sincere congratulations on this tremendous achievement.”

‘Intellectual excellence’

A distinguished Africanist scholar, Dr. Tenkorang joined Memorial in 2011. His pioneering research highlights the vulnerability of marginalized populations to HIV risks and violence in sub-Saharan Africa.

“I feel fortunate, humbled and privileged to be part of an emerging group of leaders.”— Dr. Eric Tenkorang

His work seeks to understand the socio-cultural underpinnings of intimate partner violence in several African countries.

Dr. Tenkorang’s scholarship has impacted local and global communities, offering groundbreaking solutions to both academics, policy-makers and stakeholders.

“I feel fortunate, humbled and privileged to be part of an emerging group of leaders whose work defines Canada’s intellectual excellence,” Dr. Tenkorang said during an interview with the Gazette.

The author of more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, Dr. Tenkorang has presented over 100 conference papers in more than 15 countries around the world.

He is an editorial board member of International Health (Oxford UP), the flagship journal of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, which is a U.K.-based peer-reviewed journal focusing on health and disease in developing and transitional countries.

A fellow of the Population Reference Bureau’s Policy Communication Program and the Carnegie African Diaspora Program, Dr. Tenkorang’s research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the International Development Research Centre, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Dr. Tenkorang says the RSC recognition “provides a unique platform to learn from my peers and colleagues, but also build alliances to solve some of the pressing social problems of our time.”

UN expert

Dr. Lepawsky’s foundational research and extensive mapping of discarded electronics have revealed new insights into e-waste dumping, leading to revised international policies and recycling certification.

He is the only Canadian invited to be a member of the United Nations Solving the E-waste Problem Initiative.

Dr. Lepawsky joined Memorial in 2006. His extensive scholarship in his area of study includes more than 30 refereed journal articles and book chapters, culminating in his critically acclaimed book Reassembling Rubbish: Worlding Electronic Waste, published in 2018.

As principal investigator or collaborator, Dr. Lepawsky has successfully secured more than $1 million in funding from agencies such as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network.

In December 2019 he received Memorial’s President’s Award for Outstanding Research.

“The RSC’s focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and debate for the public good is so crucial, always of course, but here and now especially,” Dr. Lepawsky told the Gazette.

“Public universities like Memorial are critical institutions for navigating how to live together well. Being a member of the RSC College offers an important way to magnify those obligations to inquiry for the public good.”

Drs. Tenkorang and Lepawsky join seven other Memorial researchers who have been elected to the Royal Society of Canada’s Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists over the years.

Jeff Green is a senior communications advisor with the Office of the Vice-President (Research). He can be reached at