Western faculty earn top university distinctions

Western’s latest honorees of Distinguished University Professorships (DUP) join a select group of faculty members recognized for exceptional scholarly careers. Honoured this year with the university’s top award for faculty are Jeremy McNeil, Biology; Cheryl Forchuk, Nursing; and Michael Rieder, Paediatrics, Medicine, and Physiology & Pharmacology.

The Distinguished University Professorship award acknowledges sustained excellence in scholarship over a substantial career at Western. The award includes a citation, the right to use the title, an opportunity for a public lecture and a $10,000 prize to be used for scholarly activity at any time.

The three DUP recipients will each deliver a 15-minute lecture on their research at an April 23 celebration in Conron Hall, beginning at 4 p.m.

Western also selected 13 Faculty Scholars to recognize their significant achievements in teaching or research. The recipients are considered all-around scholars and will hold the title of Faculty Scholar for two years and receive $7,000 each year for scholarly activities.

This year’s Faculty Scholars are Marc Joanisse, Psychology; John Nassichuk, French Studies; Chris Roulston, French Studies and Women’s Studies and Feminist Research; Anita Kothari, Health Studies; Mandar Jog, Clinical Neurological Science; Nadine Wathen, Faculty of Information and Media Studies; Masoud Khalkhali, Mathematics; Desmond Moser, Earth Sciences; Paul Wiegert, Physics and Astronomy; Stefan Kohler, Psychology; John Hess, Music Performance Studies; Simon Parker, Ivey Business School; Rob Klassen, Ivey Business School; Kibret Mequanint, Chemical and Biochemical Engineering; and Ashraf El Damatty, Civil and Environmental Engineering.

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Jeremy McNeil

Biology professor Jeremy McNeil’s research on physiology and chemical ecology is world-renowned. He has published nearly 200 papers and his work on pheromone production in true armyworm populations in North America is the most detailed and comprehensive study of any migrant lepidopteran species.

At Western since 2004, McNeil’s research details a complex communication network between plants and insects and, more broadly, between hosts and parasites, and was revolutionary in this field, leading to practical applications to pest management and crop production in Canada.

Brock Fenton, professor emeritus (Biology) and former department chair, said insects are McNeil’s passion, woven through his academic career, and he works tirelessly to realize the university’s potential surrounding entomology.

“I know few other academics whose record demonstrates such exceptional contributions across the spectrum, from teaching, to research, to service,” Fenton said. “In any of these categories, McNeil has been an outstanding colleague.”

A member of the Royal Society of Canada, McNeil served as scientific director at Western’s Biotron as well as regularly serving on numerous committees at the departmental, faculty and university level. He was a member of the Ministry of Health Advisory Board on pesticides, served as president of the Entomology Society of Canada and president of the International Society of Chemical Ecology, and currently serves on the executive for the InterAmerican Network of Academies of Sciences and the board of the Canadian Council of Academies.

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Cheryl Forchuk

Nursing professor Cheryl Forchuk has been an active faculty member at Western for more than 15 years. As a professor and associate director of Nursing Research in the Arthur Labatt School of Nursing, she has established herself as an internationally acclaimed researcher in the area of recovery and community integration for people with mental illness.

Forchuk uses the Participatory Action Research approach to engage mental health service consumers, clinical agencies and housing services, which has involved multiple, long-term relationships with community agencies, hospitals and the homeless sector, and led to developing a transitional discharge model of care based on continuous therapeutic relationships as the client transitions from hospital to community living.

“Dr. Forchuk’s record of service to the university, and the broader research community, is exemplary,” said Jim Weese, Health Sciences dean. “She is an effective builder, a collaborative scholar, and we are truly fortunate to have her as a member of our faculty. She represents the very best we have to offer. She is a credit to the university and a powerful ambassador of the good that can come from an academic institution.”

Since obtaining her doctorate in 1992, Forchuk’s research has garnered more than $11 million in external funding as a primary investigator. She is currently the primary investigator on eight grants and co-investigator on six more. Forchuk has published 82 peer-review journals, written 35 book chapters and presented more than 300 papers since coming to Western in 1997.

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Michael Rieder

Michael Rieder was recruited to Western in 1998 and is currently a professor in the departments of Paediatrics, Medicine and Physiology & Pharmacology.

Focusing on investigating the pathogenesis of serious immune-mediated adverse drug affects, Rieder’s lab is one of only a handful in the world undertaking such research. His lab has developed new ways that provide new insights into the study of adverse drug events, garnering numerous recognitions and awards. His impressive collection of publications includes three books, 26 chapters and more than 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts.

“Without question, Michael Rieder remains as one of the most distinguished professionals in all of academic paediatrics; a status he has attained through harnessing a keen intellect, an uncompromising zeal for learning and teaching others and, at his very core, the need to improve the lives of children,” said Gregory Kearns, professor of paediatrics and pharmacology at the University of Missouri. “In my 30-year career in academic paediatrics, I can think of no individual more deserving to be honoured.”

In addition to his service to the academic community, Rieder and his family have been active in service to the local community. He and his wife are foster parents who, over the past 13 years, have fostered more than 150 medically fragile infants. They described their experiences in a book, A Star for Rae, which was written for foster families.