Staff and Faculty Awards
Celebrating scholars, teachers, innovators and leaders the world needs
Our university community recognizes the outstanding contributions of our 2023 staff and faculty award recipients – individuals who exemplify USask's commitment to be the university the world needs.
Please note, the Distinguished Researcher Award and USask Distinguished Teacher Award will be recognized and presented at Convocation.
President's Staff Excellence Award
Amanda Plante, Research Ethics Specialist (Animal), Research Excellence and Innovation
“Since my youth, I have been interested in animals and concerned about animal welfare. I feel fortunate to coordinate the University Animal Care Committee (UACC) with my colleagues in the Animal Care and Research Support Office. I have the opportunity every day to facilitate research and teaching which involves animals and help ensure that animal use meets or exceeds the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) policies and guidelines. It is inspiring to learn about the wide variety of projects at USask from cystic fibrosis research in pigs, to wildlife studies on Sable Island, to infectious disease research at VIDO. It is motivating to be involved in the animal ethics review process as it always raises important questions for discussion.”
Amber McCuaig, Executive Officer, Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
“I love people, bringing them together, and helping them succeed. One of my primary responsibilities is leading a team of professional administrative staff. Much of what we do at JSGS – train the next generation of public servants to make positive differences in the world – is accomplished because of this amazing team, in partnership with our excellent faculty and leadership team across two universities. It is important to me to do whatever I can to support my team, the faculty, and our leaders so they can be their best selves and bring their best to work – all to ensure our students succeed.”
Marlys LeBras, Information Support Pharmacist (RxFiles), College of Pharmacy and Nutrition
"I get excited about my work when I hear stories from front-line health care professionals who use our RxFiles Academic Detailing medication-related tools. In my other role, as a Clinical Pharmacist with Sanctum Care Group, I’m inspired by the resiliency of the patients we serve who have complex health needs including HIV, hepatitis C, substance use disorders, and mental health issues. I’m also inspired by the dedicated interprofessional team I work with to ensure best possible health outcomes for these individuals.”
Matt Hutcheson, Radiation Safety Officer, Safety Resources
"I’m motivated by the many people at USask who are passionate about their specialty, that’s not something so easily found in every workplace. When there is a chance to support someone who is really engaged in their field it is very rewarding. For those in support roles, I think it’s important to keep the larger goals of the institution in mind. Safety is not a goal in itself, but simply a precondition to getting the job done right. I find that thinking of the academic units as clients, even when I'm working in a regulatory role, helps keep me in the right mindset."
Nicola Chopin, Project Manager, Sustainability and Education Policy Network (SEPN), Sustainability Education Research Institute (SERI), Educational Foundations, College of Education
"I get to do work, through the Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Communication and Education (MECCE) project, that is contributing in real ways to improving climate change education worldwide. My work brings me into contact with people from all over the world, and I am constantly learning and being challenged. I recently began representing our project at UN climate change events, and I have learned so much about connecting with people from other countries. When you're dealing with an existential problem like climate change, it's important to find people who are like-minded and doing strong work, but who also bring different perspectives. Diverse voices always make stronger work."
Nicole Orr, Executive Assistant, Huskie Athletics
"I am motivated by the power of sport. It provides a safe space for people to gather, socialize, compete and build community. I've always had two passions – one is sport at the elite level, and the other is community building. My role gives me the opportunity to blend the two, and this is where I feel I can contribute to reconciliation and know that all facets of my job excite me as we support and cheer for our elite student-athletes. My advice to others is to listen to your own passions and follow them so earnestly that they become a part of you and the work you are doing."
Rob Procyk, Campus Lead, Prince Albert Campus
"So many things excite me about my work. First and foremost, I love the opportunity to be invested in our students’ lives. It is an honour to celebrate their successes and encourage and troubleshoot with them through their roadblocks and setbacks. Nothing makes me prouder than seeing our students, years after they have left our campus, thriving and serving our community. It is also a great privilege to work with a diverse staff who are also so very invested in our students and our community, and to work side by side with colleagues on both campuses who function as both coworkers and friends. I love coming to work each day to discover the challenges and the opportunities that lie ahead. Best. Job. Ever.”
Provost's College Award for Outstanding Teaching
Dr. Tristan Skolrud (PhD), Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, College of Agriculture and Bioresources
“When I teach, I’m motivated by trying to find simple, innovative ways to explain difficult concepts to my students – especially when mastery of those concepts is crucial for success later on in their academic and professional careers. I’m driven by those “ah ha!” moments, when students get to experience the satisfaction that comes with mastering a new skill or understanding a new idea.
If you really want to know a topic well, teach it to someone else. Having to go through the process of teaching a topic to someone that’s unfamiliar with it will force you to understand it at a level you might not be able to perceive otherwise.”
Dr. Simonne Horwitz (DPhil), Associate Professor, Department of History, College of Arts and Science
"There are four things that motivate, inspire and excite me. The first is the opportunity to communicate my passion for history to my students and to show them that history is deeply connected to social justice and that learning history can make students better active, engaged global, citizens. Secondly, I am excited to create an environment where students can develop research and analytical skills and critical thinking. Thirdly, I am motivated to create an educational setting that encourages excellence, responsibility and hard work…and enable them to access the help and support they need to meet these expectations. Finally, as a queer, neurodiverse professor who also lives with mental illnesses I am motivated to be a role model for students, creating a classroom that is a safe, empowering environment in which all students can thrive."
Dr. Francisco Otero-Cagide (DDS), Associate Professor, College of Dentistry
"My father, as a colleague and teacher, nurtured and guided me in all aspects of my professional, academic, and personal life.
I truly believe students deserve a high quality of teaching which requires complete dedication and continuous effort. I would advise [others in my field] to be enthusiastic, communicate ideas clearly and treat everyone respectfully."
Dr. Lorelei Nickel (DSocSci), Lecturer, Edwards School of Business
"I live for the lightbulb moments. Those moments when you see students truly experience learning and begin to view themselves, others, and the world with new eyes. I love teaching ethics and strategic decision making because I want my students to learn to believe in themselves and their ability to compassionately, thoughtfully, and authentically navigate whatever personal and professional challenges come their way."
Dr. Lifeng Zhang (PhD), Associate Professor and Graduate Chair of Chemical Engineering Chemical and Biological Engineering, College of Engineering
"The most exciting part of my work is teaching and interacting with young passionate students in the classroom. As a researcher, pursuing and developing innovative engineering solutions for sustainable processes. I often chat with students during breaks in class and try to understand their challenges encountered in courses and program. Showing care and sharing personal experience often removes the barriers in communication. As instructors, I feel that empathy is the key to effective teaching."
Dr. Carly Priebe (PhD), Sessional Lecturer, College of Kinesiology
“Embracing the reality that we are all lifelong learners has really humbled me. I have come to recognize that there will always be ways that I can improve and grow as an instructor. My advice to other instructors would be to engage in learning through the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning and other resources as it is really beneficial to reflect on our teaching practices.”
Jamesy Patrick, Assistant Professor, College of Law
"As an educator in law, I am committed to critical pedagogy and the Creative Act, which focuses on helping law students identify for themselves, and reflect upon, the diverse competencies they have upon entering law school that will benefit them in learning in law school and beyond as they enter the profession. The best learning is done when we ask hard questions and create an environment where students and colleagues can engage in thoughtful and respectful discussion. This, I think, is critical to learning law and supporting students in becoming justice seeking lawyers."
Dr. Kelsey Brose (MD), Assistant Professor, Hematological Oncology, College of Medicine
"I had many great teachers during training, and I hope that, at least a little, I can honour my past teachers by carrying on the tradition! What all my many mentors (family, teachers, camp counsellors, colleagues, coaches) have in common is their ability to provide opportunities for self-exploration, guided independence, time and space to practice new skills, and frequent constructive feedback. It’s also important to recognize all those students whose paths have crossed mine. Without their feedback, encouragement, and occasional criticism, being an educator would be much more challenging."
Dr. Roslyn Compton (PhD), Associate Professor, College of Nursing
“As a neurodiverse gay woman, I often struggle to thrive in a world that enjoys labeling people as ‘different.’ Starting in my childhood, I began to collect a community of mentors – my life teachers – some people knew each other, and some people were worlds apart, not only in location but also in the way they saw and understood the world. Each person saw and understood my uniqueness – they saw me, the person I was and the person I was becoming. Each person attended to a different part of me – my character, my career path, and my life choices. I am ever so grateful and humbled by my experiences of living within a collective mentorship, where relationships are the foundation, and my growth occurs in community. I continuously learn the value of life teachers and how each person meaningfully contributes to helping me to see and grow into ‘me’ as I continue to grow older."
Courtney Charles, Lecturer, College of Pharmacy and Nutrition
"Don’t underestimate the impact of community to your success, and thus, it is vital to surround yourself with those that support your authenticity and growth; in return, remember to ensure the skills we learn adequately take care of those communities."
Dr. Brent Bobick (PhD), Lecturer and Director, Anatomy Lab, Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine
"My first source of inspiration is the subject matter. It’s been almost 25 years since I began my undergraduate studies in anatomy, and I’m still fascinated by vertebrate structure. My second source of inspiration is the students. They are hardworking, inquisitive and exceptionally diverse in educational backgrounds. These attributes motivate me to stay up to date on current advancements in the field and to incorporate student interests into my courses as I strive to create the best possible learning experiences.”
Provost's Graduate Student Teacher Award
Barbara da Silva
Barbara da Silva, PhD Student, Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering
"Some advice I would give to graduate students who aspire to be teachers is to be passionate, and to not be afraid to show your passion. For example, I have always liked to draw, so I drew funny cartoons to captivate students into fluid mechanics subjects. I think motivation is very important in learning, and sharing a bit about yourself and your enthusiasm about it can be a good way of raising motivation and interest at a personal level."
Provost's Support of Teaching and Learning Award
Carolyn Cartwright, Manager, B.J. Hughes Centre for Clinical Learning, Western College of Veterinary Medicine
"To see the students succeed in their learning and to witness their confidence and growth is so rewarding. It gives me a great sense of pride to see veterinary students take their skills and knowledge from the Years 1 to 3 labs and apply those skills in their final clinical year.
Be yourself and always remember why you came into this profession—to make a difference and to do your best. Always foster learning and embrace your professional pride."
Liv Marken, Learning Specialist and Writing Help Coordinator, University Library
"If we start with the assumption that students belong here, rather than thinking about how they need to prove they belong here, the conversation is elevated to one of mutual respect, and that’s where the real two-way learning begins. If my Writing Centre or USask Undergraduate Research Journal student colleagues and I are doing our jobs right, we provide space for students to feel vulnerable enough to grow as researchers and writers."
Provost's New Teacher Award
Dr. Al Chicoine (DVM), Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine
"Teaching veterinary students is a fantastic experience. They are extremely motivated and highly skilled, and they rightly expect the best from their instructors to help them proceed in their careers. While there is a sense of pressure that comes with those expectations, it also adds a sense of urgency and excitement to teaching (even the boring stuff!). As an instructor, knowing that you must "bring it" to every class, lab, or discussion keeps you on your toes. You can't just keep doing the same old thing, but rather, you have to continually push yourself."
Provost's Outstanding Teacher Award
Dr. Regina Taylor-Gjevre (MD), Professor and Division Head, Adult Rheumatology, College of Medicine
"It is a privilege and a joy to have the opportunity to teach medical students and to work in our MD program curriculum with so many dedicated faculty and staff members. Our students are strongly motivated in their learning with a goal to becoming skilled physicians. As an educator supporting this goal, I feel it is critical to ensure that curricular content and delivery approaches encourage active learning, skill development, opportunities for feedback/deliberate practice and translation to applicability or clinical relevance."
Sylvia Wallace Sessional Lecturer Award
Dr. Steven Langdon (PhD), Sessional Lecturer, Department of Chemistry, College of Arts and Science
"My current peers were the ones who initially instilled passion for my studies and helped inspire my career path. Their ideas and perspectives have stimulated, encouraged, and supported me for over a decade. Working with them and being able to comfortably discuss (and debate) my own thoughts with theirs is not just an excellent support, it is also part of what makes lecturing fun."
Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award
Daniel X. B. Chen
Dr. Daniel X. B. Chen (PhD), Professor and Graduate Chair for Biomedical Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Division of Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering
"I have had privilege to supervise graduate students over the past two decades at the University of Saskatchewan. What motivates me is to train and guide graduate students to become independent researchers through their graduate programs, while supporting them with expertise and resources to create and advance knowledge in their chosen fields. To my colleagues, I would say I really appreciate their guidance (since when I was a junior faculty member), continuing encouragement and support. Also, I would express my gratitude to the researchers, with whom I have the privilege to collaborate on research in interdisciplinary areas."
Dr. Julia Boughner (PhD), Professor, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Medicine
“Find a good mentor! Mentorship was crucial to shaping me as a scientist. Each of my mentors has taught me something invaluable, including generosity, integrity, courage, ambition, compassion, and boundaries. No matter the career stage, a good mentor can help you level up. And even if you can't find one, be one: mentoring itself is very rewarding. So maybe look around and see who could use someone in their corner and benefit from your lived experiences and hard-won wisdom.”
International Engagement Service Award for Staff
LaVina Watts, Manager, Study Abroad and Interdisciplinary Programs, College of Arts and Science
“I have always said that I have the best job on campus! It’s a lot of work that goes into managing these outbound mobility programs from start to finish, but I absolutely love it. Whether it’s working with faculty on their ideas and creation of their courses, watching students get truly excited about the possibility of going abroad, or connecting with our international partners, it’s incredibly rewarding. And the most inspiring part of my work is hearing from students after they return and how it changed their life.”
Global Research Leadership Award for Students
Alex Pelletier, PhD student, Toxicology“I am motivated and inspired by the passion of Amazonian residents to understand and conserve the resources that they have. In Amazonia, parents and grandparents teach their children everything that they know about their natural environment. Even young children can identify different species of plants and animals, tell you where to find them, and explain why they're important. In Canada we often undervalue our natural resources and take for granted the luxury of natural resources that we have at our fingertips.”
Global Research Leadership Award for Faculty
Dr. Gregg Adams (DVM, PhD), Professor, Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, WCVM
“What inspires me is adventure, the tantalizing possibility of discovery – the surprising sudden awareness of something previously unknown or not understood – and the wonder of having the privilege of working in an environment where we can actually make a difference. I have many heroes, and I’m grateful that I’ve had the chance to tell them so. Starting with my Dad, heroes of my professional life were my teachers, supervisors and leaders who had the outright temerity to give me a chance – many of whom are or were at the University of Saskatchewan. As a new hero of mine has said of late, ‘If not us – who? If not now – when? If not here – where?’”
J.W. George Ivany Internationalization Award for Faculty
Dr. Venkatesh Meda (PhD), Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, College of Engineering
“What inspires and motivates me is a diversity of views, opportunities for learning and teaching students, global perspectives with a passion for local applicability. And interacting with a variety of academic and research community on a daily basis (at Tim’s coffee tables!) with people from several disciplines. Education is a lifelong learning, whether at home, local school, national conference or at a UN Summit. Keep your confidence high and listen to others, speak with caution and care, understand diversity in daily lives, accept others as they are."
New Researcher Award
Dr. Kate Congreves (PhD), Associate Professor, Department of Plant Sciences, College of Agriculture and Bioresources
“Agriculture is such an interesting entity to study because it blends the natural and human-made worlds. It is partly wild and partly tame, with nature offering the inspiration to create the designs. In researching nitrogen cycling, soil health, and greenhouse gases, we can find glimpses of a future food system that is more sustainable.
There is plenty of room for creativity, kindness, and quirkiness in the world of science. So, if you can’t find it, search for it, and make the space for it.”
Dr. Benjamin Hoy (PhD), Associate Professor, Department of History, College of Arts and Science
“One of my early mentors, Richard White, wrote that he considered it the greatest blessing to be able to work alongside ‘a stream of smart, curious, demanding, challenging and fresh minds.’ At the end of his illustrious career he remained prouder of his students’ work than his own. That philosophy has shaped everything I do. The most exciting part of my research is that it allows me to work with students from all over the world. They push me to be better every day.”
Publicly Engaged Scholarship Team Award
Dr. David Natcher (PhD), Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, College of Agriculture and Bioresources
“I sincerely believe the research we are doing can bring about meaningful and positive change in the communities we work with. As a researcher, I think it is important to surround yourself with smart people who think about the world in different and interesting ways. As an anthropologist and applied social scientist, the most important advice I have for others, particularly students, is to spend as much time as possible in the ‘field’. It is through sustained and community-based research that one begins to understand, although never completely, the realities of those we collaborate with. It can’t be done from afar.”