The first time Miriam Richards set foot on Brock University’s campus she was only 11 years old.
It was 1973 and she was attending a science camp, which in hindsight offers a glimpse into the beginning of a lifelong passion.
Her love of science, animals and, particularly, bee behaviour motivated her to pursue a career in Brock’s Faculty of Mathematics and Science (FMS), where she first earned her undergraduate degree before returning in 1996 as a Professor in Biological Sciences.
On July 1, Richards began her three-year term as the Faculty’s Associate Dean, Undergraduate Programs.
“We have strong undergraduate programs in the FMS, with a wide range of disciplines and a diverse student population,” Richards said. “I took the role to do something impactful and make a difference for our undergraduates.”
She believes the Faculty’s students face unique challenges, passions and circumstances that require tailored solutions and support.
“A ‘one-size-fits-all’ model is less ideal for the FMS,” she said, “and part of my role will be to listen to and meet the varying needs of our students.”
As Associate Dean, she wants to “focus on our processes and policies to improve the student experience.”
“When a student faces a problem, our goal is to create a clear path to resolution that is fair for everyone,” she said.
Richards doesn’t shy away from challenges if it means helping students to thrive. “Sometimes you have to ask tough questions, be direct and really make sure students know what they have to do to succeed,” she said.
“I have always put students first,” she said, adding that of all the roles she’s held throughout her career, the title she’s most proud of is Professor.
Her fair and balanced student focus and strong female perspective are a boost to the principals of inclusiveness, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA) that the Faculty strives for, said Faculty of Mathematics and Science Dean Ejaz Ahmed. Richards is the first woman to assume the role of Associate Dean, Undergraduate Programs.
Ahmed looks forward to working with Richards in her new role.
“Miriam is a strong researcher, talented professor and natural leader. I believe she will meet and exceed the needs of our students and truly make a difference for the FMS,” he said.
In addition to her Associate Dean duties, Richards will continue her research pursuits.
She created the Brock Bee Lab in 1996 to study the behaviour, evolution and ecology of bees.
Since 2018, Richards has been Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Insectes Sociaux. She teaches undergraduate courses in Zoology, Animal Behaviour, Molecular Ecology, and Genes and Behaviour, as well as a variety of graduate courses.