Research Recognition Awards

 

The annual Research Recognition Awards (RRA) are designed to celebrate full-time faculty members at Mount Royal University who are making extraordinary contributions to their respective academic/professional fields, our students and our communities. The five awards recognize the outstanding achievements of MRU scholars at all career stages and from all disciplines. They are also designed to recognize the diversity of disciplinary research and scholarship and “capture the full spectrum of activities that we embrace and celebrate at Mount Royal.” By celebrating our faculty members, these awards support and enhance the burgeoning research culture at MRU.  

Award winners are recognized during Research & Scholarship Days and featured on the ORSCE webpage and newsletter.

 

 

2021 Award Recipients

 

Knowledge Mobilization Award

Felix Nwaishi, PhD

Felix Nwaishi Bio Image

Dr. Felix Nwaishi’s research explores the role of ecological processes in regulating ecosystem functions, especially following natural and anthropogenic disturbances such as wildfires and oil sands mining.

An assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Nwaishi’s research around boreal forest wetlands impacted by industrial developments is mainly funded through NSERC (the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council) and Environment and Climate Change Canada, as well as by energy companies. His goal is to develop a mechanistic understanding of how changing conditions associated with environmental disturbance would affect the processes that sustain ecosystem functions of wetlands, which is then applied to develop mitigation strategies.

“I have a specific interest in wetlands, because wetlands serve a crucial function as the ‘kidney’ of our natural environment,” Nwaishi says. “There is something new to learn every day. I gain a better understanding of the environment I live in, and I get the opportunity to share this fascinating knowledge with my students through teaching.”

Nwaishi’s approach is grounded in the belief that learning in the earth and environmental science disciplines should progress beyond theoretical knowledge by providing students with the practical skills required to address real-world environmental challenges. He says he’s driven by the dynamic nature of his work, his supportive colleagues and opportunities to get out in the field.

In 2019, the Institute for Environmental Sustainability at Mount Royal launched an initiative to create a hub for wetland sustainability knowledge exchange in Alberta by gathering key stakeholders to join the yearly global celebration of World Wetlands Day. Nwaishi has been instrumental in the development of this initiative by organizing the yearly World Wetlands Day Symposium at MRU. This year’s theme was Wetlands and Water.

“I am a strong believer in knowledge sharing, so one of the core aspects of my research philosophy is to play a lead role in the communication and sharing of scientific knowledge in a format that is accessible to people from a diverse background. For me, knowledge mobilization means translating and transmitting scientific knowledge in a manner that keeps the public informed about what is happening in their environment and how they can play a role in conservation and management of environmental resources, which is essential for our well-being.”

 


Research and Scholarship Excellence Award

Robert Boschman, PhD

Robert Boschman Bio Photo

Dr. Robert Boschman specializes in environmental humanities and place studies, with emphasis on uranium extraction abandonments and how these intersect with environmental justice. He also takes environmental justice as the focal point of his ecocritical approaches to American literature.

Chair of the Department of English, Languages and Cultures at MRU, Boschman’s memoir, White Coal City, was published in the fall to great acclaim following decades of research and writing and informed by his research interests.

Boschman’s family suffered from an unspoken trauma, one he later discovered stemmed from the death of his grandmother, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver while she was six months pregnant. Boschman describes Prince Albert, Sask., its multiple prisons and residential school, as a “circle of pain”— one felt by white settlers but more so by generations of Indigenous and Métis people who were forcibly removed, incarcerated or abducted.

“I had to do a lot of historical research because my memoir is a combination of personal experience, but I'm also really investigating the history of the land and what White settlers and colonialism did in creating towns like the town I grew up in, and how that affected First Nations people,” Boschman says. “I wanted to try to create a hybrid of historical research and first-person narrative to tell the story of my family.”

In the 1990s Boschman took the time to interview numerous members of his family and witnesses to the tragic accident that killed his grandmother and her unborn child. He also transcribed his grandparents’ love letters and their journals. He was able to access his grandmother’s coroner's report, which also had to be transcribed from early-20th century shorthand, all resulting in a very detailed record to support his writing.

In addition to White Coal City, through a SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) Insight Development Grant, Boschman and co-researchers are in the process of visiting and documenting five abandoned uranium extraction communities, including Uranium City in northern Saskatchewan and Jeffrey City in Wyoming, to highlight the environmental, human and non-human impacts of uranium extraction around the world.

Boschman says he’s proud to receive the 2021 Research and Scholarship Excellence Award and to be a part of the Mount Royal community. Of the memoir, he says “I hope that it makes a contribution to national and international discourse about trauma, and truth, and reconciliation. And as Mount Royal indigenizes, I hope that my work can be a contribution to that.”

 


Community Engagement Award

Susan Jacoby, CNM, RM

Susan Jacoby Bio Photo

The work Susan Jacoby has been doing for the past eight years as a member of the Alberta Health Services (AHS) Waterbirth Working Group is bringing about policy change in Alberta hospitals.

Made up of midwifery, physician and administrative members from the academic and health-care spheres in Alberta, the group has developed a province-wide infection control policy, clinical practice guideline and client FAQ sheet for informed consent for waterbirth. Jacoby emphasizes the critical importance of community engagement in research.

“In this climate of evidence-informed care, it can mean the difference between care providers meeting your needs or not. As in the case of waterbirth, women have been asking for it for years,” Jacoby says. But because there wasn’t an Alberta-based study on outcomes, it was “too easy for hospitals to disallow it and women were disenfranchised from being able to have a waterbirth.

“Now, through the work of the Waterbirth Working Group, AHS will make these recommendations standard policy in all AHS hospitals. It gives midwives and the women we serve safe access to waterbirth if they choose, which has not been the case up to now.”

In addition to the safety and efficacy of waterbirth, Jacoby’s research focus includes African immigrant women with female genital mutilation/cutting, intimate partner violence in pregnant women, factors associated with perineal lacerations in childbirth, and midwifery education in Ethiopia and globally.

She also worked with some members of the Waterbirth Working Group to publish a three-year cohort study of midwifery maternal and neonatal outcomes of water birth compared with non-water birth outcomes. (They were equivalent to or better than the land births.)

With 40 years of experience as a health-care provider and educator in nursing and midwifery, Jacoby holds a faculty position as associate professor of midwifery in the Bachelor of Midwifery program. While on sabbatical in 2019, she worked with the World Health Organization on a project related to female genital mutilation. When that work was delayed, she was seconded to work with WHO’s first chief nursing officer, including contributing to the State of the World’s Nursing Report 2020.

 


Emerging Scholar Award

Andria Dawson, PhD

Andria Dawson Bio Photo

Dr. Andria Dawson is an assistant professor in the Department of General Education who brings together math and biology in the minds of her students by actively involving them in their learning.

Whether it’s using tree rings to reconstruct climate variability in the Kananaskis valley, estimating rates of forest migration from fossil pollen data from the last glacial maximum through to present for eastern North America, or supporting her students in developing critical thinking skills, Dawson is engaged and energized by her work.

“I feel very fortunate to work at an institution that values teaching, and encourages and supports research,” Dawson says, the recipient of this year’s Emerging Scholar Award.

In addition to the projects mentioned above, Dawson has been involved in two other major efforts as of late: quantifying the cumulative and persistent effects of disturbance and drought on tree growth in Yellowstone Park; and understanding the uncertainty in forest biomass estimates in the U.S. Forest Inventory Analysis data. She’s also excited about an invited review/position piece for Quaternary Sciences Reviews on using paleoecological data to inform future Earth system predictions.

Balancing teaching and research can be challenging, she acknowledges, but Dawson wouldn’t have it any other way. She appreciates the support and guidance she’s received from members of the University community on walking that tightrope.

“I owe a great deal to my mentors at Mount Royal. They have helped me develop my confidence as an academic and supported my desire to continue to live in an interdisciplinary world, with respect to both teaching and research,” Dawson says. “This confidence and support have been fundamental.”

Dawson’s research is funded primarily through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the National Science Foundation in the United States. She also received a grant from Mount Royal University’s Institute for Environmental Sustainability to launch a project on climate variability in the Alberta Rocky Mountains.

Dawson is committed to sharing her passion for math and science with others. Her outreach activities work includes Let’s Talk Science, WISEST (Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology) and more.

 


Undergraduate Research Supervision Award

Yaw Asante, PhD

Yaw Asante Bio Photo

The recipient of the 2021 Undergraduate Research Supervision Award, Dr. Yaw Asante believes that student engagement is a way to improve the future for everyone.

An associate professor with Mount Royal’s Department of English, Languages and Cultures, Asante has worked extensively with students in numerous areas of research, which have emerged from the 4000-level courses he has developed and taught such as Colonization and Human Rights Violations in Africa, the Rwandan Genocide, Anti-Apartheid Literature, African Literature and Post-Independence Disillusionment, and African Women's Writing.

He has supervised 11 English honours students and collaborated with 25 others who have presented research papers at both national and international conferences, not including those whose papers were accepted but could not travel due to lack of funds. In addition to being selected to present at high-calibre conferences, Asante’s students have also garnered several prizes and been published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals. Providing support from start to finish, Asante assists his students in securing funding to travel and often goes along with them.

“The importance of undergraduate research cannot be overemphasized. I strongly believe that it is the students we produce who define us as an institution,” Asante says.

"It’s the names of the institutions they attended that go on students’ resumés, not their favourite professors.”

Therefore, it is crucial that Mount Royal’s external representation encompasses outstanding work created with academic rigour.

“The undergraduate research work I have done with students has helped to advertise this institution in ways that no amount of conscious advertising would have achieved,” Asante says. While in South Africa with two students, a colleague from another Canadian university said: “Mount Royal University is now the centre for the study of African literature in Canada," and that the standard of research being produced is at post-graduate and even doctoral level.

"Undergraduate research prepares students for graduate work and in their chosen fields of endeavour," Asante says. His students have moved on to Master’s and eventual PhD programs in various universities across Canada and around the world, with some receiving offers to apply immediately after their presentations. Others have gone on to be business owners and leaders, citing their research opportunities at MRU pivotal for their success.

Asante says his teaching philosophy has been shaped by the students he has had the privilege of teaching as well as his upbringing in Ghana, where he received emotional, intellectual, and even financial support from his early educators. He recognizes his experiences as a young learner as transformational and sees it as his responsibility to pass on the same opportunities to his students.

“I go to the classroom not to teach students, but to engage them. I engage them with purpose: to let them see that education can be used to make our world a much better place to live in,” Asante says.

Asante’s own current research work focuses on violence in post-colonial African fiction and how it relates to actual violence occurring in some places on the African continent, for which he intends to apply for both internal and external funding for eventual publication.

 

 

Nomination information

 

Each year, members of the MRU community are invited to nominate a faculty member for a Research Recognition Award. Please review the following information prior to completing your nomination.

 

Eligibility for Research Recognition Awards

  • Full-time faculty (including Senior Lecturers) are eligible.
  • Self-nominations are not accepted. 
  • Following the nomination, a faculty member may only submit one award application in an academic year. 
  • A faculty member can only win one award every five years. 
  • The ORSCE will typically give out a maximum of one award per category every academic year. 
  • All nominees are expected to demonstrate principles and behaviours consistent with the responsible conduct of research. 

 

Nomination process and criteria

  • For all awards, nominations are invited from colleagues (including contract faculty), department chairs, Deans and institute directors. 
  • The committee will not consider an application for any award other than that for which the person was nominated.
  • Each nomination requires two nominators: one primary and one secondary nominator. 
  • For the Undergraduate Research Supervision Award, at least one of the nominators must be an MRU student.
  • Nominators are encouraged to inform the nominee of the nomination.
  • Nominees will be contacted by the Adjudication Committee and invited to accept or decline their nomination.

Nominations for the 2020/21 year are now closed. 

 

Application requirements

Nominees for Research Recognition Awards will be invited to submit the following materials to the selection committee as a part of their award application package:

  • 2-page (maximum) cover letter (double spaced, 12 point font) that articulates how you meet the award criteria and your most significant scholarly achievements as they relate to the award. 
  • CV (any format – MRU CV not required) 
  • A maximum of 3 letters of support.  
  • For the Undergraduate Research Supervision Award, at least one letter from current or former MRU students is required. Letters must detail the impact that the faculty member has had on students’ research and/or scholarly endeavours.  
  • For the Community Impact Award, at least one letter from a community member is required.
  • Cover letters and letters of support should be addressed to the Research & Scholarship Recognition Awards Adjudication Committee. 
  • Extra materials (including extra letters of support) contained in the application package will not be reviewed. 
    All application materials (including letters of support) must be assembled by the applicants and submitted in a single email to research@mtroyal.ca.

We are committed to an inclusive, barrier-free nomination and selection processes for these awards. We encourage nominations and applications from the entire full-time faculty community.  

The application deadline for 2020/21 nominees is Feb. 26, 5 p.m. MST.  

 

About the awards

 

There are five distinct Research Recognition Awards.