Faculty, staff and student researchers in the Faculty of Social Sciences were honoured for their accomplishments during a special event Wednesday, Jan. 25.
Dozens of awards were presented during the Faculty’s annual Celebration of Excellence, which recognized the successes, publications, research projects and community engagement initiatives that took place across its 12 departments and centres in 2016.
Thomas Dunk, Interim Provost and Vice-President, Academic, was impressed by the growth he has witnessed within the Faculty in terms of diverse transdisciplinary programs, influential research, excellence in teaching and collaborating, and providing exceptional support and opportunities for students.
“One thing that I am very proud of is if you look at Brock’s strategic mandate, this Faculty fits into every one of the pillars of the things we say we do well and the things we say we value,” Dunk told the crowd.
“The Faculty of Social Sciences is contributing on all fronts.”
Both faculty and students were leaders in research this past year and received multiple internal and discipline-based awards and external funding from all three Tri-Council Agencies in Canada.
The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) granted nine new principal investigators with funding, along with many co-investigators.
Four Faculty members received funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and Teena Willoughby and her team in the Centre for Lifespan Development received a $1.43-million grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to study adolescent risk-taking behaviours.
Robert Dimand from the Department of Economics received Brock’s prestigious Distinguished Research and Creative Activity Award along with a discipline-based award for his contributions to social economics and social economy.
It was a year of expansion and development for Social Sciences, as the Faculty celebrated its first graduates from the Master of Sustainability program, saw the launch of a new Doctoral program in Child and Youth Studies and welcomed more than 400 graduate students.
Four graduate students were honoured at the celebration for their exceptional writing, covering diverse, transdisciplinary and modern issues.
Shawn Geniole, a graduate from the Psychology program and SSHRC Banting Postdoctoral Fellow, received the award for Best Doctoral Thesis for his research, “The Facial Width-to-Height Ratio and its Role in Advertisements and Assessments of Threat Potential.”
Denyelle Huelleman, a student from the Master’s of Geography program, received the award for Best Master’s Thesis for her research, “Consuming Niagara’s Agricultural Landscapes: A Regional Assessment of the Constraints and Opportunities for Developing a Sustainable Agritourism Destination.”
Another MA Geography student, Benjamin Kwao, received the award for the Best Course Paper for his research, “Political Ecology of Small-Scale Gold Mining in Ghana.”
And Kaitlin Gibson, a student from the Master’s of Political Science program received the Best Major Research Paper award for her impactful research, “The Effect of Social Capital on the Voting Behaviour of Immigrant Youth.”
This year, the event expanded from celebrating research successes to also honouring internal teaching and staff awards.
“It is important to recognize the extensive work that goes on every day by all faculty, staff and students,” said Ingrid Makus, Interim Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences.
“Everyone plays an important role in contributing to the success of the Faculty and creating a positive difference in our community.”
Shauna Pomerantz and Dawn Zinga from the Department of Child and Youth Studies received one of Brock’s most prestigious honours, the Chancellor’s Chair for Teaching Excellence, and Ivan Medovikov from the Department of Economics received the Faculty of Social Sciences Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Linda DiRaddo, Administrative Assistant in the Department of Psychology, was the recipient of the President’s Distinguished Staff Service Award and Sheila Smith, Budget Officer for the Faculty of Social Sciences, received the Human Resources Distinguished Award for Leadership.
Interim President Tom Traves extended his congratulations to all award recipients and remarked on the importance of these celebrations to acknowledge the range of achievement of all faculty, staff and students involved.
The celebration is a way of saying “we are an academic community,” Traves said.
It’s a chance to gather to congratulate award winners but to also recognize everyone within the Faculty for their commitment and contributions to the work of the University, he said, calling them the “life and purpose of the University.”
Dunk expressed gratitude to those within the Faculty for their ongoing efforts.
“You’ve raised not only your own reputations with all of your efforts and accomplishments, but you’ve raised the status and reputation of the entire University,” he said.
“We are very grateful for that.”
A full list of award recipients is available on the Social Sciences webpage.