In the fields of medicine and law, Western’s latest Distinguished University Professorship (DUP) winners emulate the motivation behind why the award was created. In honouring faculty who have built a record of excellence in the areas of teaching, research and service over a substantial career at Western, this year’s recipients receive an award of $10,000 to support their scholarly activities and will deliver a public lecture at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 24 in Conron Hall, University College, room 224. This year’s DUP winners are:
Faculty of Law
During his exemplary 40 years at Western, Robert Solomon has achieved a synthesis of teaching, research and service that Western Law Dean Iain Scott called “virtually unmatched.” His work in the fields of addictions, health care and impaired driving law has had a concrete impact at Western, across Canada and internationally.
Solomon’s teaching has been recognized by awards at Western, among them the Western Award for Teaching Excellence and University Students’ Council Teaching Honour Roll. He has also been the recipient of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations’ teaching award and has won TVO’s Ontario’s Best Lecturer competition. In his undergraduate Healthcare Law course, the enrollment jumped from 130 to a cap of 440 students, based on Solomon’s reputation as a lecturer.
When it comes to research, Solomon’s impact on the field of impaired driving law extends beyond civil liability. He has, over the years, worked in areas ranging from graduated driver licensing, zero blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits for young and novice drivers, lower criminal BAC limits, administrative license suspensions, random breath-testing, testing of hospitalized impaired drivers, impaired driving enforcement practices, insurance, criminal procedure and sentencing. His work, having influenced more than 300 legislative amendments in the last decade alone, is held in high esteem by various institutions internationally.
Solomon has also served the Western community, helping develop campus alcohol policies, which have spread across Canada. He has served as the national director of Legal Policy with MADD Canada since 1998, and on the home front, served as Law’s associate dean (academic) for six years.
Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry
More than three decades since coming to Western, Jane Rylett has firmly established herself as a leader in research, teaching and service.
Rylett is in her second term as the chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology in the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. She is also the associate director of the Robarts Research Institute.
Over the years, her research has focused on the role of cholinergic neurons in the brain and their dysfunction when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease. She has published 90 peer-reviewed articles in respected journals and has given more than 80 invited presentations to fellow researchers, as well as a large number of talks in the broader community. One of Canada’s leading neurobiologists, Rylett has also obtained more than $7.5 million in peer-reviewed operating funds for her research.
In addition to her extensive research, Rylett carries a heavy teaching load, excelling in the classroom and routinely scoring high ratings on teaching evaluations. She has taken the lead in developing courses in the department and in renewing the curriculum and has supervised 10 MSc students, 10 PhD students and seven postdoctoral fellows, most of whom have gone on to successful careers. Former and current trainees speak glowingly of her dedication to her students and her superb mentoring abilities.
A member of many departmental, faculty and university committees, Rylett is not satisfied unless she plays an active role in all parts of the community.
Outside Western, she has been a leading force at the Alzheimer Society nationwide, and has held many positions there. She has also chaired grant review panels for five different granting agencies, among them the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) and the Ontario Mental Health Foundation. She has also chaired the Institute Advisory Board of the CIHR Institute of Aging, from 2008-12, a task that not only represents a great honour, but also a great time commitment for an already influential and active member of the community.
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Seven Faculty Scholars were also named this year including: Elizabeth Hayden, Department Psychology, Faculty of Social Science; Joel Faflak, Department English, Faculty of Arts & Humanities; Chris Nicholls, Faculty of Law; Lynn Shaw, School of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences; Dr. Graeme Hunter, School of Dentistry, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry; Dr. Marco Prado, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry; and Brent Sinclair, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science.