Articles by author: Samantha Morris

  • Applications open for Walt Disney World Resort internship

    For the first time since 2019, Brock students have a chance to complete courses at the University of Florida and a paid internship at Walt Disney World Resort starting this spring — but the application deadline is coming soon.

    The University of Florida/Walt Disney World Resort Internship is open to all Brock students over the age of 18 who have 10 credits and a 75 per cent overall average, with preference given to majors in Tourism Studies.

    Students who are accepted to the program will complete two online courses delivered by the University of Florida starting in May.

    Then, in August, successful applicants will begin a third course and their paid internship at Walt Disney World Resort, which will run until December.

    In total, students earn the equivalent of 2.5 Brock credits. The internship may also qualify as a co-op work term.

    The program, which had been suspended due to public health restrictions on travel since 2020, provides an opportunity for students to see the inner workings of one of the world’s most popular tourism destinations.

    Christina Bosilo, Director of Brock International, says the partnership provides students with the opportunity to gain academic credit and valuable work and training experience.

    “The benefits of participating in a study abroad experience help to prepare graduates, professionally and personally, for future opportunities post-graduation, and this particular opportunity is limited to only a handful of post-secondary institutions within Canada,” she says. “Any Brock student with an interest in learning more about tourism, hospitality and marketing from industry experts will find this to be a valuable experience.”

    Professor David Fennell in the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies agrees, noting that one of the program’s best features is the way students can match University of Florida courses in topics such as Lodging Operations and Management or Theme Park and Attraction Management with two different internship options at Disney.

    “The Disney Internship provides students with an opportunity to work in one of the world’s most impressive companies, with both formal and informal management and leadership training as an important addition to what students need to compete for jobs in the future,” he says. “Furthermore, the opportunity to work and learn alongside students from Brock and other institutions in Canada, along with international students, provides a great platform from which to build relationships and contacts.”

    Interested students are invited to learn more about the details of the program on the Brock International websiteApplications are due on Friday, Jan. 13.


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  • David Telfer and Sharon Janzen recognized for 25 years of service to the University

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to congratulate Dr. David Telfer (Geography and Tourism Studies Professor) and Sharon Janzen (GeoTour alumna) on being recognized for their 25 years of service to Brock University!

    We are so grateful for their years of dedication, friendship, and invaluable contributions to our Department and the University. Our Department certainly would not be the same without them.

    President Lesley Rigg presents Sharon Janzen, Map Library Associate/Geospatial Data Co-ordinator, with a gift in celebration of her induction into the Quarter Century Club.

    President Lesley Rigg presents David Telfer, Professor, Geography and Tourism Studies, with a gift in celebration of his induction into the Quarter Century Club.

    Exceptional employees, longstanding service honoured at Brock President’s Celebration

    The outstanding efforts of Brock University staff, faculty and librarians were recognized at a reception Tuesday, Dec. 13.

    Hundreds of employees gathered in Market Hall for the annual President’s Celebration, which featured the announcement of staff service award recipients and the celebration of employees who have reached 25- and 35-year milestones in their service to the University.

    Among the awards distributed by President Lesley Rigg was the Brock University Outstanding Team Service Award, which recognizes a team that has made an outstanding contribution throughout the year, beyond what is normally expected.

    Brock Central was selected as the 2022 recipient, recognized for its high-quality customer service approach to offering student and alumni information in an accurate, timely and confidential manner, while adhering to high standards of excellence.

    In offering a few words to describe the team, Associate Vice-President of Human Resources Jennifer Guarasci said members of Brock Central “continually strive to enhance the customer service experience by demonstrating compassion, diplomacy, understanding and tact by actively listening and responding to the needs of our students.”

    Geraldine Jones, Registrar and Associate Vice-President Enrolment Services, said she feels privileged to work with a committed group of people who illustrate Brock’s values and mission.

    “They are a team of individuals who, on a daily basis in quiet and humble ways, make students’ lives better,” she said. “They are the epitome of a team because they support one another and the institution.”

    Along with the team award, individual staff service awards were announced during the online event, and employees celebrating 25- and 35-year service milestones were acknowledged for their commitment to the University.

    Rigg congratulated all service award winners and nominees, and remarked she was honoured to be celebrating with a spirited and hard-working employee community.

    “This campus has energy and enthusiasm, and it’s in large part due to the wonderful team working here and everything you do,” she said. “We are all extremely lucky to have each other to work with and to have such dedicated staff members.”

    Rigg also commented on how greatly the University benefits from the experience of longstanding staff members.

    “They are time travellers — the ones who make sure we don’t repeat the same mistakes but also repeat those things that have been great,” she said. “They are our guidance, our mentors and the ones who pave the path for our future.”

    Human Resources Distinguished Staff Service Award for Leadership 

    Kelly Lipovsky, Customer Service Co-ordinator with Facilities Management, is the 2022 recipient of the Human Resources Distinguished Staff Service Award for Leadership. The award is presented to one staff member who has a proven record of leading and working collaboratively, engaging fellow employees, furthering the development of a respectful work and learning environment and culture, and building strong relationships and partnerships that enable the University to implement its strategic plan and related initiatives effectively. Recipients receive a certificate of recognition and a $500 cash award.

    Rigg said Lipovsky was recognized in part for her charismatic leadership qualities and ability to collaborate well with colleagues from across the University.

    “Her ability to connect with others and to help bring out the best in each person on her team is truly inspiring,” said Guarasci, when reading comments from nominators.

    President’s Distinguished Staff Service Awards for Outstanding Contributions 

    The President’s Distinguished Staff Service Award for Outstanding Contributions recognizes individual ongoing staff members who have demonstrated exemplary service or made a significant contribution to the working environment at Brock at a level significantly beyond normal expectations. Recipients receive a certificate of recognition and a $500 cash award. The 2022 recipients are:

    • Drew Cullen, Manager, District Energy, Asset Management and Utilities
      Cullen was recognized for his efforts in leading the conceptualization and development of sustainability challenges across the University to encourage the campus community to adopt everyday sustainable actions.
    • Rick Manning, Groundskeeper, Facilities Grounds Services
      Manning was recognized for his positive and welcoming attitude and his ongoing dedication to providing exceptional service, including taking on additional tasks to ensure the campus is accessible and safe, especially in winter months.
    • Debbie Ouellette, Administrative Co-ordinator and Graduate Advisor, Sociology
      Ouellette was recognized for her professional, steady and student-centred approach to her work as well as her respectful, kind and supportive interactions with colleagues and students.
    • Barbara Tatarnic, Manager, Continuing Education and Outreach, Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI)
      Tatarnic was recognized for her longstanding efforts in leading CCOVI’s community engagement, outreach, and professional and continuing studies, which has helped to position CCOVI as a world-class research and education institute in the grape and wine, beverage alcohol and hospitality industries.

    Brock University Outstanding Team Service Award 

    The Brock Central Team is the 2022 recipient of the Brock University Outstanding Team Service Award, which recognizes a team of faculty and/or staff members who have made an outstanding contribution throughout the year beyond what is normally expected. The recipient teams are awarded lunch with the President and a trophy engraved with the team name to be displayed until it is passed on to the following year’s recipient(s).

    Quarter Century Club  

    Ten employees were inducted into the Quarter Century Club, joining 277 others who have worked at Brock for 25 years:

    • Sheila Bennett, Professor, Educational Studies
    • Lilly Biamonte, Senior Business Systems Analyst, Enterprise Solutions
    • Marian Bredin, Professor, Communications, Popular Culture and Film
    • Anthony Bogaert, Professor, Health Sciences
    • Roman Cierny, Network Supervisor, IT Infrastructure
    • Sharon Janzen, Map Library Associate/Geospatial Data Co-ordinator, Map, Data and GIS Library
    • Marie Reimer, Special Projects and Operations Co-ordinator, Ancillary Services
    • Caroline Romero, Administrative Assistant, Earth Sciences
    • Anamitra Shome, Associate Professor, Accounting
    • David Telfer, Professor, Geography and Tourism Studies

    35 years of long-standing service  

    Seven people were recognized for 35 years of service at Brock:

    • Ian Adamson, Associate Professor, Accounting
    • Rick Currie, Electrician, Facilities Electrical
    • Robert Dimand, Professor, Economics
    • Dorothy Levay, Instructor/ Manager, Academic Support, Mathematics and Statistics
    • Rob Witte, Locksmith, Facilities Carpentry
    • Kimberley Pelchat, Manager, Instructional Resource Centre, Education
    • Edith Williams, Special Collections and Archives Assistant, Archives and Special Collections


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  • Brock community mourns passing of Val Fleming


    Val and Art Fleming. (Photo supplied by Grimsby Lincoln News/Niagara this Week)

    The Brock community is saddened by the loss of Val Fleming (BA Geography ’72; LLD ’10), a long-time supporter of the University who passed away Wednesday, Nov. 16 at the age of 94.  

    Fleming received a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from Brock in 1972 and provided vision and leadership to the University by serving three terms on the Board of Trustees from 1998 to 2006. She was a member of the Capital Projects and Facilities, Development and Community Relations and Nominating committees. 

    Fleming and her late husband Art have supported numerous University initiatives, programs and spaces through the Fleming Foundation. The couple’s generosity began with an original gift to help build Taro Hall, which has since been redeveloped as the Goodman School of Business.  

    In the early 2000s, the Fleming Foundation provided support to build a new student and community health and fitness centre, now called the Walker Sports Complex. The gift was recognized by naming a lobby in Academic South the ‘Art and Val Fleming Commons.’ 

    The foundation’s most recent gift to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts reflected the Flemings’ interest in supporting the humanities at Brock.  

    In 2010, the University presented Fleming with an honorary degree in recognition of her contributions to the Brock and Niagara communities. 

    celebration of life will be held Sunday, Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. at the Beamsville Church of Christ at 4900 John Street, Beamsville. Brock’s flags will be lowered to half-mast on the day of the celebration of life in remembrance of Fleming and her service to the University.  


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  • Brock researchers seek to educate on animals and entertainment

    A cheetah in the savannah with a safari van in the background

    Professor David Fennell and Sarah Coose, a graduate student in the MA in Geography, wrote about animals and entertainment for a new book on animal welfare.

    Humans using animals for entertainment is the subject of a recent collaboration between Professor David Fennell and Master of Arts (MA) student Sarah Coose in Brock’s Department of Geography and Tourism Studies.

    The researchers recently contributed a chapter entitled “Animals in Entertainment” to The Routledge Handbook of Animal Welfare looking at the role of animals in tourism and media industries, from wildlife viewing to sport to advertising, which shows how animals are used for human profit and how the social cost of mistreating animals can be one of the biggest drivers of change in inconsistently regulated fields.

    Science, agriculture and some areas of entertainment, such as film locations, set rules or follow legislation around animal welfare, but tourism venues are often unregulated. Fennell says tourism is “generally perceived as simply an act of leisure or recreation — but we need to recognize that it is arguably the world’s largest industry.”

    book cover for The Routledge Handbook of Animal Welfare features several yellow chicks

    The Routledge Handbook of Animal Welfare was published as part of the Routledge Environment and Sustainability Handbooks series earlier this year.

    Fennell and Coose believe education is the key to improving this situation, because while research in the area is growing worldwide, teaching, classroom learning and public awareness has not kept pace.

    “The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has a global code of ethics for tourism, but grassroots initiatives are required to build capacity for changes at broader levels,” says Fennell. “What we are trying to do here at Brock, and now more widely, is establish normative change at different scales and in different contexts to map out a more responsible industry.”

    Coose, who studied Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour in her undergraduate degree at Boise State University, is currently undertaking research about ethics, animal welfare and the efficacy of conservation related to animals and ecotourism under Fennell’s supervision.

    “My MA thesis is aimed at assessing to what degree the preconceived beliefs that tourists hold on animal ethics colour their perceptions of the ethicality of the animal tourism venues they visit,” says Coose. “Collaborating on this chapter allowed me the opportunity to do a deep dive into the literature on animal ethics and to get to know the topics of discourse and terminology used in the field, which is incredibly useful.”

    One of the key takeaways from the chapter is that tourists themselves hold much of the power to effect change, since in the absence of laws and fines, consumer attitudes toward a venue’s care for animals is a key motivator.

    “Tourists vote with their dollars and their views,” says Coose. “If you think someone is providing an unethical product, don’t give them your money or exposure.”

    Fennell adds that he has worked with Tourism Studies undergraduate student Val Sheppard (BTS ’03, MA ’05) to develop “a framework that encourages tourists to assess and then rate wildlife tourism attractions, not unlike TripAdvisor, on aspects of governance, conservation and welfare,” which would increase public awareness and accessibility of information.

    While the chapter presents examples of public and activist pressure resulting in the decline of unethical treatment of animals, such as elephant rides, the authors say there is more work to be done.

    “The industry has responded by refusing to use some animals, but long-standing cultural practices and economic realities continue to deny the welfare, rights, agency and interests of animals,” says Fennell.

    He is clear that education “has to be the driving force” of a change in attitudes.

    “If we want a more responsible and sustainable tourism industry when it comes to animals, education is the key,” says Fennell. “Much of my research is now dedicated to animal ethics literacy, social contract theory and curriculum development to work against the anthropocentrism and speciesism in our field.”


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  • In-person, online events planned to mark GIS Day

    Geographic information systems (GIS) are everywhere, with many people not understanding the extent of their use. 

    In recognition of Geography Awareness Week Monday, Nov. 14 to Friday, Nov. 18 and GIS Day on Wednesday, Nov. 16, Brock University’s Map, Data and GIS Library (MDGL) has planned several initiatives in partnership with the Tourism and Geography Society (TAGS) student group to engage the Brock community and bring awareness to the beneficial geographic tool.  

    “GIS is critical to our society and it’s important to recognize its significance in our everyday lives,” says Sharon Janzen, Map Library Associate and Geospatial Data Co-ordinator with the MDGL. “We use GIS to map directions and find hotels close to our destination. Satellite imagery helps us track storm paths of hurricanes and tornadoes and analyze changes in landscapes over time. GIS is also used in city planning, for example, to visualize the distribution of sports facilities, and in communicating public engagement, for example, by plotting online voting results by district. The uses are endless.” 

    To kick off the week, TAGS is hosting a scavenger hunt that will have participants searching for five locations across campus. Two of the spots will include geocaching, which involves participants using their mobile device as a GPS to find containers called ‘geocaches.’ Participants can enter a contest to win a prize by taking a photo of each of the five locations, sharing them via Instagram stories and tagging @brocktags by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16. More details are available on Instagram 

    On Wednesday, Nov. 16 for GIS Day, the Brock community is invited to the MDGL in Mackenzie Chown Complex C306 for a pizza lunch from 1 to 2 p.m. Pizza slices, pop and chips will be sold for $2 each (cash only). At 2 p.m., complimentary cake will be served featuring a map created by Master of Sustainability student Baharak Razaghirad, titled “The Distribution of Trees within the Town of Lincoln.” Geography and GIS-related games will be available, such as map-themed board games and jigsaw puzzles and a geography-related word scramble called ‘Where in Niagara?’ 

    Also taking place is a free weeklong GIS Days virtual conference hosted by Western University Libraries packed with events open to Brock students and employees. Two representatives from the Brock community will be leading presentations as part of the conference.  

    Brock alumna Jessica Linzel (BA ’18, MA ’20), Director of Community Engagement for The Brown Homestead and past Esri Canada GIS Scholarship recipient, will give a seven-minute lightning talk Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 11 a.m. about using StoryMaps to present complex ideas about history in a more accessible way. Linzel created a series of web maps that outline the boundaries of The Brown Homestead and show how the land evolved from its Indigenous origins and then Loyalist settlements to several generations of Brown family and new owners who partitioned and sold or purchased land. 

    Janzen will be leading a one-hour tutorial Thursday, Nov. 17 at 11 a.m. that will introduce participants to ArcGIS Online, a web-based dynamic mapping software. She will use the story of Laura Secord’s famous walk from Queenston to Thorold as a topic for participants to create a map. No experience is necessary, but curiosity is an asset. A valid login for the website is required (public or organizational accounts welcome). Visit the ArcGIS website to sign up for a public account. 

    Registration is required to access the presentations; however, there is no registration fee or deadline. The interactive program can be used to search by presenter, presentation title or location. 

    Questions about events planned for GIS Day can be directed to Janzen at


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  • David Fennell makes global list of top scientists

    Nearly three dozen Brock University researchers appear on Stanford University’s recently updated list of the world’s top two per cent of scientists with the most citations.

    First created in 2019 by Stanford University health researcher John P. A. Ioannidis, the list rates scientists globally on metrics that measure the types and numbers of citations they have.

    Citations, which appear in academic papers, are references made to earlier research. The number of times a researcher’s work is referenced in other peer-reviewed work is one important indicator of their research impact and reputation.

    The latest update to this list includes a career-long database containing 195,605 researchers globally, or about two per cent of researchers worldwide. Though billed as a list of scientists, the ranking includes social sciences and humanities scholars.

    Thirty-five of these researchers are from Brock University.

    “This ranking shows the strong place that Brock researchers hold among the most influential and high-impact scholars worldwide,” says Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon. “It is a powerful illustration of the world-class inquiry happening at Brock every day, in every discipline.”

    The Brock University researchers who are among the top two per cent of scientists with the most citations are:

    • Stephen Anco, Professor, Mathematics, Faculty of Mathematics and Science
    • Michael Ashton, Professor, Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences
    • Anthony Bogaert, Professor, Health Sciences, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences
    • Uwe Brand, Professor, Earth Sciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Science
    • Ian Brindle, Professor Emeritus, Chemistry, Faculty of Mathematics and Science
    • Katrina Brudzynski, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Mathematics and Science
    • Stefan Brudzynski, Emeritus Professor, Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences
    • Stephen Cheung, Professor, Kinesiology, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences
    • Vincenzo DeLuca, Professor, Biology, Faculty of Mathematics and Science
    • Ivo Düntsch, Professor Emeritus, Computer Science, Faculty of Mathematics and Science
    • Bareket Falk, Professor, Kinesiology, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences
    • Thomas Farrell, Professor, Applied Linguistics, Faculty of Social Sciences
    • Maurice Feldman, Professor, Applied Disabilities Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences
    • David Fennell, Professor, Geography and Tourism Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences
    • Martin Head, Professor, Earth Sciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Science
    • Gordon Hodson, Professor, Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences
    • Herbert Holland, (late) Professor, Chemistry, Faculty of Mathematics and Science
    • Tomas Hudlicky (late) Professor, Chemistry, Faculty of Mathematics and Science
    • Princely Ifinedo, Professor, Information Systems, Goodman School of Business
    • Frans Koffyberg, Professor, Physics, Faculty of Mathematics and Science
    • Neil McCartney, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences (no longer at Brock)
    • Cheryl McCormick, Professor, Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences
    • Donald McCreary, Adjunct Professor, Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences (no longer at Brock)
    • Catherine Mondloch, Professor, Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences
    • Georgii Nikonov, Professor, Chemistry, Faculty of Mathematics and Science
    • Gary Pickering, Professor, Biological Sciences and Psychology, Faculty of Mathematics and Science
    • Piers, Faculty of Mathematics and Science (no longer at Brock)
    • Ryan Plummer, Professor, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Faculty of Social Sciences
    • Peter Rand, Emeritus, Biological Sciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Science
    • Andrew Reynolds, Professor, Faculty of Mathematics and Science (no longer at Brock)
    • Kirill Samokhin, Professor, Physics, Faculty of Mathematics and Science
    • Sidney Segalowitz, Professor Emeritus, Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences
    • Martin Tammemägi, Professor Emeritus, Health Sciences, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences
    • Peter Tiidus, Professor, Kinesiology, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences
    • Teena Willoughby, Professor, Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences

    The Stanford-based list of top researchers uses a number of methods to create a single ranking, in spite of large differences in the customs and practices of citation across disciplines.

    Citation indices do not universally capture the impacts of all research types, Kenyon also notes, including work published in books rather than in journals.

    “No single type of measure tells the whole story of great research,” he says. “A great deal of excellent, high-impact research and creative inquiry leads directly to policies, community practices, live performances or works of art, rather than to other academic publications.”

    Brock’s representation in the Stanford University list has grown substantially from the original 2019 list.

    “This as a valuable sign of Brock’s continued development of research excellence and intensity across disciplines,” says Kenyon.


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  • Learn about issues of migration, mobility at upcoming public symposium

    Researchers from across Brock University will share insights on migration, immigration, movement and the mobility of people, things and ideas at a virtual public event next week.

    Hosted by the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Social Justice Research Institute (SJRI), the Movement and Mobility Symposium will feature six presentations from faculty, staff and student researchers in Geography and Tourism Studies, English Language and Literature, Education and Sociology at Brock.

    Presentations include:

    • “Education is my only carriage — it was not an easy road” by PhD student Denese Brown-Bell (MEd ’18)
    • “Road infrastructure, mobility and gendered subjectivities in Shimshal, Pakistan” by Professor Nancy Cook and Professor David Butz
    • “Contradictory mobility: child self-protection and automobiles in interwar Toronto’s Globe” by Professor Phillip Gordon Mackintosh
    • “Reflections on mobility and the 2021 photos of the Mounted U.S. Border Patrol” by Associate Professor Gale Coskan-Johnson
    • “Developing decolonial aesthetics with migrant domestic worker creative communities” by Assistant Professor Julie Ham
    • “Displacement and belonging in Canada: reconciliation through research, knowledge translation and the arts” by Faculty of Education Research Officer Snežana Obradović-Ratković, Professor Kari-Lynn Winters and Assistant Professor Catherine Longboat, with Associate Professor Spy Dénommé-Welch of Western University

    Associate Professor and Interim SJRI Director Tamara El-Hoss says the event is inspired by the current political climate.

    “Issues of mobility, displacement and migration are at the forefront of populous movements on all sides of the political spectrum,” says El-Hoss. “I look forward to hearing a diverse range of perspectives on these urgent and necessary questions from the presenters at the symposium.”

    The free public event is the latest in the Social Sciences Symposium Series, which aims to showcase the variety of work being conducted by faculty and student researchers across Brock’s Faculties to uncover an array of perspectives and foster potential synergies and collaborations. It is also the second symposium to be co-hosted by SJRI.

    Dean Ingrid Makus of the Faculty of Social Sciences expressed delight at partnering with SJRI for another event after the success of last year’s Social Justice and Community Collaboration symposium.

    “Our Symposium Series is designed to give the wider community a glimpse of the breadth of research and insight being carried out by Brock’s researchers on many of our society’s most pressing issues,” says Makus. “We are thrilled to partner with the SJRI once again to stage an event that promises to be engaging and enriching for all who attend.”

    Movement and Mobility: A Virtual Symposium will be livestreamed on Lifesize Wednesday, Oct. 26 from 10 a.m to 1 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend, but advance registration is required.


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  • Brock appoints biogeographer, Dr. Lesley Rigg, as next President and Vice-Chancellor

    Lesley Rigg, a highly accomplished academic leader, research scientist and professor, is Brock’s next President and Vice-Chancellor.

    Rigg assumes her new role Nov. 1 following an international search for the next University President. A highly skilled forest ecologist and biogeographer, she currently serves as Vice-President (Research) and Professor of Geography at Western University in London, Ont.

    “Dr. Rigg brings more than 25 years of academic and research leadership experience to Brock, having served in Canada and in the United States as a vice-president, dean, scientist and professor,” says Mark Arthur, Chair of the Brock University Board of Trustees. “Lesley’s many accomplishments in labs and in the field, in classrooms and across campuses, are matched by her inspiring and well-demonstrated commitment to inclusivity and diversity. It is an optimistic approach that puts students, faculty and staff first. We are truly fortunate to welcome her to our community.”

    Rigg says it is a “distinct privilege to be invited to join Brock at this pivotal time in its history.”

    “We are emerging from the challenges of the pandemic and the work of the University is essential as our community recovers and seizes new opportunities. I have long admired Brock’s impressive students, our outstanding faculty and researchers and our wonderful staff, who together make up a university striving to be welcoming, diverse and inclusive,” she says. “Over the years, I have been excited to watch as Brock evolved and advanced to become a leading student-centred comprehensive university. As I arrive in Niagara, I am fortunate to be joining such an accomplished and welcoming community. I have a deep-seated optimism for the future of Brock.”

    At Western, Rigg leads the research enterprise of one of Canada’s foremost research-intensive universities. She is responsible for both the strategic vision and daily operation of Western Research and is the lead internal and external advocate for research, creativity and innovation on campus. During her time in London, she led the creation of a new strategic plan for Western Research, with a vision to stimulate research, scholarship and creative activity.

    Prior to arriving at Western, she served as Dean of the Faculty of Science and Professor, Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary, where she led one of the largest Faculties on campus spanning six departments and five multidisciplinary programs.

    Her experience also includes significant leadership at Northern Illinois University. There, she served as Vice-President for Research and Innovation Partnerships and other roles including Associate Dean Research and Graduate Affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


    Rigg’s lived experience informs her understanding of the significant impacts a university can have on its community and on its students. She was the child of a single mother and is the first in her family to go to university.

    “I have experienced first-hand the transformative impacts education has on a student and on a family,” she says. “Brock’s emphasis and proven track record ensuring the health, well-being and success of students is foundational to our future. Together, we must ensure there is just, equitable and fair access to all areas of our campus, and we must openly demonstrate that this is an inclusive and welcoming university where everyone has the same opportunity to benefit and to contribute.”

    Rigg says she was encouraged by Brock’s recent undertakings to recruit more Indigenous and Black scholars.

    “I am particularly focused on partnering with our Indigenous communities to further the gains Brock has made in truth and reconciliation and in creating a more welcoming campus for equity-deserving students, staff and faculty,” she says.

    As an accomplished scientist and research administrator, Rigg prioritizes supporting researchers, scholars and students working across campus to innovate, create and spark breakthrough discoveries.

    “As a comprehensive university, Brock’s commitment to our researchers and research activities is of utmost importance,” she says. “Brock has enjoyed considerable successes in creating an environment where breakthrough discoveries and impactful scholarship thrive. I am looking forward to working with our entire community to continue this upward trajectory and to catalyze future growth.”

    Rigg earned her bachelor’s degree in geography and environmental studies from York University in Toronto, her master’s degree in geography from the University of Colorado and her PhD in geography and environmental studies at Australia’s University of Melbourne. Her teaching career began as a lecturer at Melbourne in 1997.

    She is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of Canada, an executive committee member of the Ontario Council on University Research (OCUR) and the recipient of many honours, including the Alberta SHEInnovator Award and the Women of Inspiration, Vision Builder Award for Western Canada. Rigg’s partner is David Goldblum, an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Environment at Western University.

    Throughout her career, engaging with communities has been a hallmark of Rigg’s leadership. She says Brock’s multi-layered relationships and connections with the communities it serves are a key reason she’s eager to begin her term at the University.

    “Brock’s origin story begins with a group of dedicated women in the community advocating for a new university. That was nearly 60 years ago and the voices and actions of the Allanburg Women’s Institute ring clear today,” she says. “Brock is closely interwoven with Niagara and communities beyond. We serve our neighbours in so many impactful ways, while being the beneficiary of the rich and diverse communities that are part of our campuses. Deepening these ties and building new relationships will be key as we move forward.”

    Brock’s President and Vice-Chancellor provides leadership to the community to collaboratively develop and achieve the University’s goals. She ensures that the University pursues its vision and delivers on its mission, while demonstrating a commitment to Brock’s values. The role is responsible for inclusive leadership and effective bi-cameral governance. The President oversees the implementation of the educational policy and general administration of Brock and ensures a culture of academic freedom, research excellence and institutional autonomy. The President advocates for the University’s interests with government and other key stakeholders and works with the community to enhance Brock’s reputation. She is responsible for ensuring Brock’s fundraising and advancement activities are robust and that alumni are engaged in the life of the University.

    The Brock University Board of Trustees approved the appointment following a recommendation from the Advisory Committee on the Presidency and after consulting with the University Senate. The search began in June 2021 after former President Gervan Fearon left to become the President of George Brown College. Since that time, Provost Lynn Wells has served as Interim President.

    “On behalf of our entire community, I want to thank Interim President and Provost Lynn Wells for her superb leadership over the past year. It has been an incredibly complex and challenging time for all universities and for our students and staff,” Arthur says. “Dr. Wells has led with integrity, compassion and a keen focus ensuring Brock emerges from this pandemic stronger than ever. We are deeply grateful for her commitment to Brock and to our students, faculty and staff.”

    Incoming President Rigg will be spending time on campus this fall as she prepares to begin her role in November.

    “I am so looking forward to meeting with our community of students, faculty and staff and getting to better know our campus,” she says. “The coming academic year promises to be an exciting one with a near-record incoming class, a full return to campus and a complete resumption of our teaching, learning, research and student activities. I cannot wait to get started!”


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  • Students to explore space, climate change in new science communication program

    A new Brock University program will see students combine their interest in topics such as space exploration, earthquakes, floods and climate change with a passion for storytelling and global communication.

    Welcoming its first cohort in fall 2023, Brock’s Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Earth and Planetary Science Communication is a cross-disciplinary program forged through a partnership with the Departments of Earth Sciences; Geography and Tourism Studies; and Communication, Popular Culture and Film.

    “Students are welcome from diverse backgrounds, voices and academic pursuits, making it ideal for those with interests in science, arts or both,” said Frank Fueten, Chair of Earth Sciences. “It will appeal to those who value Greta Thunberg’s activism just as much as those who enjoy the science broadcasting of David Suzuki.”

    The program’s graduates will understand the science behind important modern issues, such as Earth’s resource distribution and the exploration of other planets.

    “Students will have the skills to participate effectively and successfully in discussions and debates surrounding science in a variety of fields and industries,” Fueten said.

    The program is the only one in Canada that combines knowledge of Earth Sciences with communication skills in a single four-year undergraduate degree.

    “On the communication side, students will learn cutting-edge theory and practical skills to help understand the needs and concerns of the public, gather science data and employ social media effectively,” said Duncan Koerber, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film.

    The program presents innovative courses such as Citizen Science, where students crowdsource the public to create new knowledge and data sets.

    “Citizen Science will empower citizens and communities to tackle environmental and social injustices and has the potential to inform innovation as well as policy changes in Niagara and beyond,” said Ebru Ustundag, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies. “Data empowerment of citizens via participatory practices will honour and preserve local traditions and knowledge and provide mitigation strategies for future residents and policy-makers.”

    Upper-year projects may adopt novel approaches to communicating science to the masses. While one student may promote volcanology through TikTok, another may craft a miniseries on microplastics.

    “The variety and customizability of project options will appeal to students who enjoy blazing a new trail,” Fueten said.

    The program will enable graduates to pursue careers in communication roles for government agencies, non-governmental organizations, universities and private companies, as well as in journalism.

    “We see our graduates landing roles in well-known organizations like the Discovery Network and the World Wildlife Fund,” said Kevin Turner, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Tourism. “There is also great opportunity to join firms in the resource industry and other companies in environmental fields or geologically sensitive areas.”

    More information is available on the program website or by contacting

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  • Brock geographer makes global connections during Fulbright Canada residency

    Almost two years after his Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Arctic Studies at the University of Washington was first announced, Kevin Turner is winding down his duties.

    The award normally involves a six-month residency, but the global pandemic prevented the Associate Professor in Brock University’s Departments of Geography and Tourism Studies and Earth Sciences from travelling to Seattle as expected.

    Instead, he virtually taught a fourth-year course in Arctic Landscape Change and Detection, conducted workshops for teachers and engaged in events hosted by the World Affairs Council, including a fireside chat with Chief Tizya-Tramm of the Vuntut Gwitchin Government through winter 2021.

    Earlier this spring, he was finally able to load his truck with his bikes and some field equipment and head west for his required in-person residency at the University of Washington.

    In spite of a hectic three-month schedule, Turner says the trip has created opportunities to meet up and collaborate with colleagues, sometimes in unexpected ways.

    In May, he travelled to Fairbanks, Alaska, for a meeting of NASA’s Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) Science Team. As a research affiliate of that program, he advises on airborne data acquisition and suggests key flyover locations from his main research site in Old Crow.

    “Being an affiliate of NASA ABoVE, I can help guide where they fly in northern Yukon and then utilize the data they collect within my research program, as can many others,” says Turner. “We also learn the latest on some of the cool things that colleagues are doing with the data to assess landscape conditions across the north, as well as share our own findings.”

    He attended a meeting of the International Circumpolar Remote Sensing Symposium in Fairbanks, which attracted top scholars from around the world, and was also involved in fieldwork being done by colleagues from University of Alaska, Fairbanks and the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab.

    “I was able to use some equipment I brought with me because I didn’t want it sitting in the truck at the airport while I travelled,” Turner says. “When I took it out for a little bit of show and tell, they invited me to visit one of their research sites to try it out.”

    Upon his return to Seattle, the University of Washington hosted Turner, Tram Nguyen, the 2021-22 Fulbright Canada Chair in Arctic Studies, and others for a roundtable discussion in late May on “Holistic Approaches to Health and Wellbeing in Arctic Communities and Beyond.”

    In June, Turner flew north again for fieldwork in Old Crow, Yukon. The strict parameters of his VISA required him to travel on specific dates — which can be hard to commit to when research excursions are delayed by Arctic weather.

    Turner counted on Brock Earth Sciences graduate student Michelle Pearce (BSc ’20) and undergraduate student Marley Tessier to help him meet the logistical challenges of the research trip and collaborated with colleagues from Polar Knowledge Canada and Parks Canada, along with local Indigenous community members, including photographer and drone pilot, Caleb Charlie, to collect data. Turner also credits helicopter pilot Ruth Hardy with being able to work wonders in small time frames.

    In addition to gathering water samples and aerial survey photography, Turner also used a LiDAR sensor — “a Ghostbuster-looking sensor that shoots out 300,000 pulses of light per second” — to collect data for fine-grained 3D imaging of the landscape.

    His use of the LiDAR device was of particular interest to a documentary film crew from France and Germany working on a four-part series on climate change, who accompanied the researchers and interviewed Turner in the midst of the data collection.

    Turner has now returned to Seattle for the rest of July to crunch some data and collaborate with colleagues at the University of Washington.

    Though it hasn’t been without its challenges, he says that he has enjoyed the “shake-up” of the Seattle residency and the Fulbright Chair overall. And he looks forward to soon welcoming his family for a quick holiday in a nearby mountain cabin.

    “If I didn’t have the support of my family, this would be impossible,” he says. “My wife, Jen, is amazing, and my two boys have really stepped up to fill in the gaps of getting things done around the house in my absence. Their ability to carry on with me somewhere else for an extended period has made this smooth, but I really miss them.”

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