Students at Brock benefit from the commitment and expertise of faculty at the University who provide an innovative and student-centred research and learning environment. Their influence engages students to think creatively and critically both inside and outside the classroom.
Brock will honour two faculty members for their outstanding contributions to research and teaching at Fall Convocation on Saturday, Oct. 19.
Michael Bidochka, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, will receive the Brock University Award for Distinguished Research and Creative Activity. This award recognizes faculty members who demonstrate outstanding research achievements, contributions toward the training of future researchers, and consistency in scholarly or creative performance.
Darlene Ciuffetelli Parker, an associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education, will receive the Brock University Award for Distinguished Teaching. The award recognizes a faculty member who has made a significant commitment to providing and developing quality learning experiences for students, in addition to making valuable contributions in curriculum development and the mentoring of colleagues.
Bidochka will receive his award at Saturday’s 10 a.m. ceremony. Ciuffetelli Parker will receive her award at the 2 p.m. ceremony.
More than 850 students are expected to receive their degrees at Fall Convocation. All ceremonies will be held in the Ian D. Beddis Gymnasium and a reception for graduates, family members and other special guests will be held after each ceremony.
Brock University Award for Distinguished Research and Creative Activity: Professor Michael Bidochka, Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Mathematics & Science
Professor Michael Bidochka is a model researcher who maintains high standards in all of his endeavours. In the words of his colleagues who nominated him for this award, “he is not one to seek accolades and has been satisfied with the rewards of gaining new knowledge and in training outstanding young scientists in his lab.”
Professor Bidochka’s research program is focused on the study of fungi that not only kill insects but are also plant symbionts. This type of fungus typically infects insects and kills them by physically invading the insect’s body, after which, the fungus feeds insect nutrients to plants with which they associate. Beyond being very interesting organisms, such fungi can be used as a natural means of controlling insects as well as promoting plant health.
Over the course of his work, Professor Bidochka has made very important inroads in understanding how such fungi interact with insects and plants. He and his students have shown that pathogenic fungi not only protect plants from insects but also deliver nutrients, specifically nitrogen, acquired from the insect directly to the plants. This remarkable dual role that the fungi play was not previously known and its recognition is a very important step forward in understanding just how these fungi might best be used to improve yield and quality of agricultural products.
Professor Bidochka has maintained a strong research program since he arrived at Brock in 2001. His career total of 104 refereed publications is just one indicator of his overall research productivity. His work has been published in journals that have a particularly high impact and prestige across the sciences such as Science and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America.
The high quality of his research is also similarly reflected by his success at attracting and maintaining ongoing and substantial funding for his research. This is particularly true of his support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) who have provided more than half a million dollars in support for his work, which has been continuous since his first year of eligibility in 1996. His lab has also been prolific in terms of training of highly qualified personnel. He has supervised to completion 22 BSc Honours students, eight MSc students and three PhD students.
Professor Bidochka is distinguished by a combination of his willingness to take very thoughtful risks in his research direction and his curiosity to discover new truths about insect pathogenic fungi. Combined with a touch of serendipity, these qualities have led to some very exciting breakthroughs in his laboratory of the last decade.
Brock University Award for Distinguished Teaching: Associate Professor Darlene Ciuffetelli Parker, Department of Teacher Education, Faculty of Education
The hard work and passion that goes into Associate Professor Darlene Ciuffetelli Parker’s research and instruction has long been evident to those enrolled in her classes, and now, as a result, she will be awarded the 2013 Brock University Award for Distinguished Teaching.
Professor Ciuffetelli Parker will be recognized at this year’s fall convocation as a faculty member who, in the opinion of her colleagues and students, has made an outstanding contribution to the teaching and learning environment at Brock University and beyond.
“The teacher-learner relationship is vital to how I educate and learn alongside my students – my fundamental priority is the development of students’ critical thinking skills as they adapt to each situated experience, whether they are learning in their theory courses, whether they are responding to the needs of students in classrooms or other educational settings, or whether they are conducting research in such settings,” says Professor Ciuffetelli Parker.
She has conducted extensive research on the scholarship of teaching, in particular her teaching strategy related literacy narratives, an adult literacy practice used constructively by university students.
Several letters in Professor Ciuffetelli Parker’s dossier demonstrated the impact she has on the lives of students and the esteem in which her colleagues regard her teaching and scholarly activity.
A graduate student remarked of her work, “Dr. Ciuffetelli Parker’s innovative teaching method of related literacy narratives provided pivotal learning for me as a student in her EDUC 8P15 course. It is through this experience that I learned how narrative is connected to how we teach and understand the human condition… Her expertise in narrative inquiry method… inspired me to pursue graduate studies…using narrative inquiry and in particular related literacy narratives as part of my data and method in my thesis.”
Professor Ciuffetelli Parker’s success can likely be measured by the success of her students, as she harnesses a strong desire to provide avenues for her students to succeed; a trait that is unmistakably apparent.
Another former student reflected fondly, “Dr. Ciuffetelli Parker brought the ethical standards of practice (trust, care, respect, and integrity) to life,” said the student. “I felt valued, cared for, and safe in her course [and] it is because of this community and the relationship she enacted with the students that I felt empowered to develop relationships, think critically, and share deeply.”
“I believe her excellence in teaching is not just exemplified by her meaningful course material, but also by her ability to create the ideal conditions to encourage learning.”
However, it is not just the work that Professor Ciuffetelli Parker puts in with her students that has propelled her to win this year’s award, but also the research that she conducts and the significance of her findings. Noted in particular in her dossier is her remarkable commitment to poverty and education in Ontario schools and social justice issues in education and the wider community.
“All of her research impacts her teaching practice and is woven through her work as a professor of both undergraduate and graduate students,” says Shelley Griffin, associate professor, Department of Teacher Education. “Through working in diverse topic areas, Dr. Ciuffetelli Parker continues to make contributions at the provincial, national, and international levels.”