Newsmakers 2011

How will we remember 2011? Probably through these faces.

The Western News’ 2011 Newsmakers section celebrates the best of research, academia and volunteer spirit that we have to offer on this campus. The following spotlight, in brief words and striking images, the accomplishments of some of our favourites from the last year.

Man of Science


Talk about ascending to the top of your profession. This fall, Western professor Gordon McBean was named president-elect of the International Council for Science (ICSU) at the organization’s 30th General Assembly in Rome, Italy. He will lead the international body starting in 2014.


The Negotiators


It was a sight rarely seen in the history of The University of Western Ontario as 51 unionized librarians and archivists took to the picket lines this past September in search of a new collective agreement. Alan Weedon, vice-provost (academic planning, policy and faculty); Bryce Traister, University of Western Ontario Faculty Association president; Aniko Varpalotai, Faculty of Education professor and UWOFA chief negotiator; Jennifer King, Western chief negotiator; as well as numerous parties spending countless hours on both sides led to a new four-year contract following a 13-day strike.


New Leadership



Western welcomed four new deans to campus this summer and fall: Vicki Schwean (Faculty of Education), Iain Scott (Faculty of Law), Charmaine Dean (Faculty of Science) and Betty Anne Younker (Faculty of Music). The changeover in such high-profile areas created quite the buzz not only across their individual faculties, but campus as well.






On a Mission


With Western home to nearly 150 faculty, graduate and post-doctoral researchers whose primary focus is Africa, The Africa Institute hopes to strengthen sustainable relationships between Western, Africans and African institutions. As director of the institute, political science professor Joanna Quinn works hand-in-hand piecing together a shared vision to foster strong relationships, advance important research and improve lives across the continent.

A Woman of Influence


Sandra Smeltzer possesses a sense of purpose and direction many others would probably envy. The Faculty of Information & Media Studies professor was recognized this past year with a Western Humanitarian Award for her research on communication in developing nations and how IT and communications technology is used for social justice objectives. She has been awarded the University Students’ Council Teaching Honour Roll Award of Excellence for every year she has taught at Western, received her faculty’s Undergraduate Teaching Award and was named among Canada’s Top 25 Women of Influence by the Women of Influence Magazine.

The Athlete


Conor Trainor has been traveling the globe, delivering a little pain to opponents of the red and white. Trainor, a fourth-year civil and environment engineering student, started the year as a member of Western’s varsity rugby team, and finished as a member of both Rugby Canada’s teams competing at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Life and ‘Death’


While most readily shy away from talking about death, Meredith Levine and 16 journalism students at Western tackled the subject head on last spring. Developed out of a groundbreaking course on dying in the graduate journalism program – and led by Levine, who teaches radio journalism and health and medical reporting in the Faculty of Information & Media Studies – A Good Death gave students an opportunity to explore end-of-life journeys and what changes need to be made to put palliative care onto the public agenda. A Good Death was published on and won the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Media Award.

The Decision Maker


Known as a prolific arbitrator at both the Winter and Summer Olympics, Western Law professor Richard McLaren can add international basketball to his lengthy list of sports-related accomplishments. McLaren was appointed president of the Basketball Arbitral Tribunal this past summer, which provides services for the resolution of disputes between players, agents and clubs through arbitration. More than 100 cases were heard in 2011.

The Final Frontier


Made up of professors from the faculties of Science, Engineering, Social Science, Arts & Humanities and Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX) had quite the busy year. Be it the continued work on Mars with Gordon Osinski (pictured), tracking meteors with Peter Brown, discovering new asteroids with Paul Wiegert or the work of more than 50 faculty members from 10 departments, CPSX continues to strengthen and grow the Canadian space community through inspiring and training the next generation of scientists and engineers.




Recognized around the world as ‘that girl singing on the cell phone in the food court,’ Stephanie Tritchew, a master’s student in voice performance and literature at Western, joined her musical friends to make a huge splash this past year on YouTube. Launching into the chorus of ‘Hallelujah’ to an unsuspecting mall crowd, the flash mob musical has been viewed more than 35.5 million times. It was featured on several media outlets, including CNN, Good Morning America, The View, eTalk and ABC World News. You can check it out by searching ‘Christmas Food Court Flash Mob’ on YouTube.

Operation Green


In any surgical procedure, many of the utensils prepared for the surgeon remain unused at procedure’s end. Enter Operation Green. Collecting these items, which would otherwise be wasted, members of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry group package and ship them to developing countries in desperate need of such items. The group’s latest shipment, sent this past month, weighed 661 pounds with a value of more than $15,000. Operation Green is the first such project in Canada.