Four named Distinguished University Professors

Four professors are the latest recipients of Distinguished University Professorships (DUP) awards, joining a select group of faculty members recognized for exceptional scholarly careers. Honoured this year are Patrick Mahon (Visual Arts, Arts & Humanities), Jin Jiang (Electrical and Computer Engineering), Helene Berman (Nursing, Health Sciences) and Dale Laird (Anatomy & Cell Biology, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry).

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.

Western also selected 15 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.

Patrick Mahon
Visual Arts

Patrick Mahon arrived at Western in 1995, having already established a strong track record as a teacher, artist and researcher, only four years after completing his Masters of Fine Arts at the University of British Columbia. Since then, he has become one of the most innovative printmakers in Canada. His work has been increasingly in demand internationally and he has participated in recent exhibits in Switzerland and Ecuador. Mahon was recently named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada; in 2005, he was awarded a Faculty Scholar award; in 2008, he was the recipient of a Hellmuth Prize for Achievement in Research; and, in 2015, he made the Mayor of London’s list of Annual Honorees. Mahon oversaw the creation the PhD program in Studio Arts at Western, which was only the second of its kind in Canada. The program is highly sought after in the country. He currently serves as director of the School for Advanced Studies in Arts and Humanities.

Jin Jiang
Electrical and Computer Engineering

Jin Jiang, who joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1991, is the longest serving member of the faculty and the longest running NSERC Senior Industrial Chair Professor in the history of Western, having held the position since 2003. Over the past 26 years, Jiang has become one of the most successful professors in research, teaching, and services to Western and to the engineering profession. He has established two state-of-the-art research laboratories – the Instrumentation & Control Systems Laboratory and the Microgrid and Distributed Generation Laboratory – to carry out innovative research and to train highly qualified personnel. Both laboratories have become showpieces for Western Engineering. He has made significant contributions to both fundamental and applied research of great importance to the control of power systems, from mega-scale nuclear power plants to small solar power systems. He has been a trusted mentor to his students and junior colleagues and exhibited uncompromising dedication to higher education and to the engineering profession. He is respected for his outstanding contributions of great impacts in research, excellent teaching, and demonstrated services.

Helene Berman

Helene Berman is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and a recipient of the prestigious Excellence in Research Award of the Nursing Network on Violence Against Women International. She and her colleagues have attracted more than $7 million in research funding from Tri-Council agencies, Status Women Canada, and the Ontario Mental Health Foundation. Berman, who has published four books, more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and given more than 100 conference papers, among other research contributions, has held continuous support from external agencies since she joined Western in 1996. She is the inaugural Academic Director of the Centre for Research on Health Equity and Social Inclusion in downtown London Ontario, which represents a new and important community engagement initiative for the advancement of knowledge informed solutions through participatory community action. Berman is actively engaged in a leadership capacity in the “professional” aspect of nursing, serving as President of the Nurses Network on Violence Against Women International (2012-2014). She has inspired many nurses toward critical intersectional approaches to the field.

Dale Laird
Anatomy & Cell Biology

Dale Laird is a leading world expert in the area of cell communication mediated through gap junction proteins called connexins and pannexins. He is considered to be one of, if not the top active researcher and key opinion leader, internationally in this field. Insights and discoveries from Laird’s research program have resulted in many highly influential publications in journals such as Cancer Research, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Nature Reviews Cancer, and Cell. The extensive and sustained work produced by his research group has led to seminal understandings of the mechanisms underlying inherited connexin-linked diseases that collectively affect millions of people worldwide. Laird is a leader on the international research stage, and his work influences multiple fields that include cell biology, biochemistry, cancer, and development. With more than 150 peer-reviewed publications to date, the scope of Laird’s scientific impact is remarkable. His approach of combining basic mechanistic studies with potentially translational human studies has resulted in great success, as evidenced by his CIHR grant applications consistently being ranked among the highest in the country. Laird currently holds five Tri-Council grants as well as his Tier I Canada Research Chair.

This year’s Faculty Scholars are:

  • Sarah Bassnett, Visual Arts;
  • Corey Dyck, Philosophy;
  • Girma Bitsuamlak, Environmental Engineering;
  • Lauren Flynn, Chemical & Biochemical Engineering;
  • Janis Cardy, Communication Sciences and Disorders;
  • Amanda Grzyb, Information and Media Studies;
  • Oana Branzei, Ivey Business School;
  • Qingping Feng, Physiology and Pharmacology;
  • Steven Laviolette, Anatomy &Cell Biology;
  • Walter Siqueira, Biochemistry;
  • Margaret Campbell-Brown, Physics and Astronomy;
  • Joe Gilroy, Chemistry;
  • Gordon Osinski, Earth Sciecnes;
  • Rachel Margolis, Sociology; and
  • Salvador Navarro, Economics.