El Naggar, MacDermid earn top scholar honours

A pair of Western scholars – Civil and Environmental Engineering professor Hesham El Naggar and Physical Therapy professor Joy MacDermid – have been honoured with Distinguished University Professorships.

The award acknowledges sustained excellence in scholarship over a substantial career at Western. The award includes a citation, title, public lecture and a $10,000 prize to be used for scholarly activity.

Portrait of Hesham El Naggar

Hesham El Naggar
Civil and Environmental Engineering

Hesham El Naggar is a recognized world leader in the areas of dynamics of piles and foundations; soil-structure interaction; design and construction of deep foundations and soil dynamics; and geotechnical earthquake engineering.

His work in analysis, design and construction of helical piles has contributed to their wide acceptance by the geotechnical community in North America, Europe, China and beyond. His computer program, DYNA6, is used worldwide for the design of foundations subjected to different types of dynamic loading, having been licensed to more than 250 organizations worldwide.

Instrumental in revamping the undergraduate program in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, he has received the Mohan Mathur Award for Outstanding Teaching, having successfully graduated 12 postdoctoral trainees, 40 doctoral students and more than 40 master’s students.

His nominators cited his “amazing ability to communicate difficult concepts with ease, in either a lecture or conversation setting.” Others said his “constant positive and encouraging attitude sets an example for his colleagues and his students.”

El Naggar has provided more than 200 short courses, sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers and Geotechnical Research Centre, across the North America, Korea, Peru, Egypt, India, South Africa and United Arab Emirates. These courses have influenced the current practice for the design of foundations of large equipment.

He has equally impressive record as an administrator, having served as Associate Dean of Western Engineering for almost 14 years and currently serving as Acting Chair in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. In his time, he has developed initiatives which that have resulted in increased research funding, significant increase in graduate student enrolment and has contributed to the high international ranking of the department.

Portrait of Physical Therapy professor Joy MacDermid

Joy MacDermid
Physical Therapy

“Among the elite of Canadian health scientists,” Joy MacDermid has left a global mark in preventing, assessing and treating hand and upper-limb injuries, and in mentoring students who call her a visionary in the field.

MacDermid has been honoured with a Fellowship from the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences in 2011, a lifetime membership in the American Society of Hand Therapists in 2018 and a Fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada in 2019.

She is best-known for her work in hand and wrist evaluation and rehabilitation; her collaborations with first responders to combat job-related illness and injury; a massive and oft-cited publication record; and her mentorship to more than 170 graduate students.

MacDermid and her research team have attracted more than $50 million in research funding to help solve issues related to arthritis, hand/wrist/upper-body injury, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and post-traumatic stress disorder. She recently received a $2-million Network Catalyst grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

The Dr. James Roth Chair in Musculoskeletal Measurement and Knowledge Translation has also published 30 book chapters, 487 peer-reviewed articles and 404 peer-reviewed abstracts; made 309 presentations at national and international conferences; and published 13 patents and copyright measures.

McDermid has worked extensively with firefighter groups across Canada to understand and reduce work-related injury and has been an active contributor to the work of Western’s Bone & Joint Institute.

Her nominators cited how “her fingerprints can be found throughout musculoskeletal physiotherapy research and practice not just within Canada but internationally.” Others called her “an inspiration,” “a visionary,” “a brilliant thinker” and “a role model for hard work, productivity and collaboration.”

Many of MacDermid’s students have also gone on to become leaders in the field.

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

This year’s Faculty Scholars include:

  • Hanif Ladak, Electrical and Computer Engineering (joint appointment, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry)
  • Clare Robinson, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Shauna Burke, Health Studies
  • Trish Tucker, Occupational Therapy
  • Pamela McKenzie, Information and Media Studies
  • Zoe Sinel, Law
  • Jonathan De Souza, Music Research and Composition
  • Martin Houde, Physics & Astronomy
  • David Smith, Biology
  • Erin Heerey, Psychology
  • Manuel Montero Odasso, Medicine
  • Cheryle Seguin, Physiology & Pharmacology
  • Chris Watling, Clinical Neurological Sciences
  • Chris Smeenk, Philosophy
  • Graham Denham, Mathematics
  • Julie Schermer, DAN Department of Management & Organizational Studies