Research award recipient urges grads to let love drive success

Stephen Cheung used to advise others to follow their passions. But 25 years into his career, he’s learned passion isn’t what drives him.

During a Brock University Convocation address, the Professor of Kinesiology shared his revelation that “something deeper, more fundamental and longer lasting” than passion motivates him.

“What brought me here is love, and it is love that is the endless fuel for passion,” Cheung said to a class of graduating Faculty of Applied Health Sciences (FAHS) students on Wednesday, June 14.

He explained that his love of ideas drives his passion for science, which he expresses through his research in environmental physiology. His love of service guides his mentorship, and his love of connection is fuelled through writing and other forms of science communication.

Cheung advised graduates to uncover what they love.

“Find out how you can uniquely express that love, and that will be the never-ending source for your passion and all the great things you will do in your lives,” he said.

Cheung’s research, mentorship and leadership efforts were formally recognized this year when he was awarded the 2023 FAHS Research Excellence Award.

As a former Tier II Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Environmental Ergonomics  and recipient of the 2017 Creative and Research Activity Award, Cheung is no stranger to academic accolades.

In addition to maintaining exceptional research output since his CRC tenure ended five years ago, Cheung has taken on several leadership roles in research service, including organizing for the world’s largest conference on environmental physiology and serving as Chair of Brock’s Health Sciences Research Ethics Board.

“At this stage in my career, my focus is on the research community,” he said.

Mentoring graduate students and junior and mid-career faculty colleagues is one more way Cheung gives back to his peers.

“It’s really about helping the next generation advance their research,” he said. “It brings me just as much, if not more, happiness as finding a new nugget of information.”

Maureen Connoly peeking out a front door adorned with pink and green florals. Connolly is wearing a green hoodie with an image of a cartoon turtle and the acronym “SNAP.”

Maureen Connolly, Professor of Kinesiology and Physical Education, is the 2023 Faculty of Applied Health Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award recipient.

Also recognized this year is Kinesiology and Physical Education Professor Maureen Connolly, who received the 2023 FAHS Excellence in Teaching Award.

Connolly’s teaching focuses on preparing students to be highly skilled physical education teachers and practitioners.

Her courses on fundamental movement skills incorporate games, gymnastics and dance, which are the three elements of the physical education curriculum in Ontario. Connolly’s adaptive physical activity course is carefully designed and informed by local practitioners as well as her own research on programs she leads at Brock, including Supporting Neurodiversity Through Adaptive Programming (SNAP).

Connolly believes years of teaching experience combined with her continued interest in the subject matter helps engage her students.

“I think students can sense I’m comfortable and that I enjoy being with them,” said Connolly. “It’s immensely fulfilling to watch students develop their confidence and realize they can do things they didn’t think they could do. We have shared delight in our learning experience.”

Connolly also applies her expertise in curriculum design and learning theory to organize her courses.

“My courses are well scaffolded, there’s a lot of progression and students have opportunities to learn threshold concepts before learning something else,” she said. “I also try to set an environment where the teacher and learners approach the content together, instead of the content and teacher approaching the learners.”

In addition to her development of Brock learners, Connolly is an ongoing contributor to professional teaching and learning societies. She is an appointed member of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and the Council of 3M National Teaching Fellows. She also serves in leadership positions on several Brock and industry committees focused on teaching, learning and curriculum development.

Joining Connolly and Cheung in receiving formal recognition from the Faculty this year are Associate Professor and Chair for the Department of Nursing Karyn Taplay, who received the FAHS Faculty Service Award, and Nursing Lab Supervisor Shelley Wills, who received the FAHS Staff Service Award. These new awards recognize outstanding service contribution to the University, the Faculty and the external community.

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