FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2018 | by Cathy Majteny
Learn something new every day. Volunteer. Don’t let discouragement stop you. Follow your dreams.
These are some of the life lessons arising from Liette Vasseur’s three decades of study and leadership in the area of environmental sustainability.
The Brock University Professor of Biology delivered the afternoon address Friday, Oct. 12 as more than 1,000 students graduated during Fall Convocation. She advised the crowd to volunteer in places that may be of interest and learn at least one new thing every day.
“It is amazing how you will learn, make new contacts and open new doors through these actions. You never know where your path will bring you,” she said.
Vasseur said passion for “discovery of life” and a desire to help people are what give her the energy to balance her various roles and commitments. She urged the graduates to “embrace life, continue discovering and don’t forget that you are the leaders of tomorrow.”
Vasseur’s research on ecosystems, biodiversity, sustainable development and community sustainability has taken her from small villages in Ecuador to large-scale farms in China and leadership roles in global institutions. She is the President of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability: from Local to Global, and Vice-Chair (North America) and Chair (Ecosystem Governance) of the Commission on Ecosystem Management, International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Along the way, she has published more than 100 papers, presented at more than 200 events, supervised several dozen students and won many awards. Her latest honour came Friday when she was awarded the 2018 Award for Distinguished Research and Creative Activity.
“The award is not just mine, but shared with a team of students here in Canada as well as in China and Ecuador,” said Vasseur.
In addition to Vasseur’s honour, also being awarded Friday was Psychology Professor Tim Murphy, who was the recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award. As an active mentor to young academics, he has worked with numerous teaching apprentices and has had six teaching assistants who have gone on to work as instructors at the university level after graduating from Brock. Murphy also won the OUSA Teaching Excellence Award in 2010 and the Faculty of Social Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award in 2017.