Growing up on a family farm in southwestern Ontario, professor Kathy Hibbert adopted her strong work ethic at an early age. “It was bred into our DNA,” she said.
The principle has served her well – from the time she arrived at Western as a first-generation student, throughout her career as an educator with the Lambton Kent District School Board and to her return to campus nearly 20 years later to pursue her PhD.
By 2008, Hibbert was a tenure track professor in the Faculty of Education. Today, she is associate dean of teaching education.
She is also the first in her faculty to earn the title of Distinguished University Professor, having been recently named a 2023 recipient of the award along with Lars Konermann from the Faculty of Science, Lorelei Lingard from the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and X. A. (Andy) Sun from the Faculty of Engineering.
All awardees are internationally recognized leaders in their fields, demonstrating “sustained excellence in research, teaching and service to the community over a substantial career at Western.” Each has attracted millions in research funding and top awards for their work. Summaries of their accomplishments are listed below, drawn from endorsements by Western colleagues, former and current students, and academic peers from around the world.
A new class of Faculty Scholars, ten mid-career professors, are also being honoured for their outstanding academic achievements.
All 14 professors will be added to the President’s Honour Roll, which celebrates high-achieving faculty, students, staff and alumni.
In addition to her post in the Faculty of Education, Hibbert holds a cross-appointment to the department of medical imaging at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, as well as affiliate memberships within the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, the Faculty of Social Science, and the Faculty of Health Sciences.
As a scholar in multiliteracies education across the professions, her publication record is “significantly above average for a professor in education,” with one reviewer noting Hibbert’s “contributions to one of the most important trends in medical education: the move from amateurism to professionalism in teaching.”
Among Hibbert’s contributions on a global level is work she’s undertaken on behalf of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Notably, she was invited by the government of Japan and the IAEA to lead an interdisciplinary curriculum development project following the Great East Japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in 2011. Lessons learned from that tragedy were embedded into a global disaster curriculum for future generations. She continues her work with that team, building knowledge on crisis communication, multiliteracies’ teaching and learning, and trauma informed curriculum development.
As a teacher, supervisor and mentor, students describe Hibbert as an educator who “gives her time to nurture their talent and develop their capacity as scholars in their own right.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hibbert led the development of a micro-credential in online teaching and learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She also created a virtual tutoring program to support more than 400 families. The program, adopted by Western, supported all university employees with young children in 2020-2021.
Recognized as one of the “stars” in the Faculty of Science, Konermann has established himself as an international leader in the field of protein mass spectrometry.
Using experimental techniques in combination with cutting-edge computational tools to uncover the biophysical foundation of protein function, his work has helped catalyze the transformation of mass spectrometry from “a simple analytical tool to a comprehensive suite of methods” for interrogating protein folding, structure, function, dynamics, biding and aggregation.
“Konermann’s research has contributed tremendously to the capabilities of mass spectrometry for understanding the role of proteins in health and disease, including cystic fibrosis and Alzheimer’s disease,” one of his nominators writes.
An elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Konermann has achieved an “exceptional/outstanding” ranking from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada as a Discovery Grant applicant, joining an elite group of “very top performers” across Canada.
He has demonstrated exceptional service to the international mass spectrometry community, serving as chair of the International Tandem Mass Spectrometry Workshop held annually at Lake Louise, Alta. “This has become a key meeting on the international mass spectrometry calendar, not only because of Lars’ high standing in the community but also because of his tireless promotion of this event,” a colleague writes.
As a professor in the department of chemistry, with a cross-appointment to biochemistry, Konermann’s colleagues marvel at his ability to “transfer his passion for science to his students” with an “incredible level of energy and enthusiasm.”
During the recent COVID-mandated online teaching, he put “tremendous effort” into his lecture videos. Anticipating that many students would need help to cope with mental health issues during this time, Konermann ensured his lecture videos were a “feel-good fireworks of science and stand-up comedy.”
Lingard ‘grew up’ in the humanities, where her doctoral research focused on how third-year clinical clerks learn to present the patient case during morning rounds. From that time on, she was “hooked.”
Today she is a leading world expert in healthcare team communication and collaboration, advancing seminal understandings of how language impacts teamwork, how learning to communicate during clinical training shapes professional identity and how the individual focus of competency frameworks threatens the delivery of quality care.
Her work influences multiple fields globally, including communication science, team performance, patient safety, competency-based training, professional identity formation and assessment and licensure.
“As one of the most respected qualitative researchers in medical education, Lingard has fundamentally changed the kinds of questions scholars ask and the kinds of knowledge that are valued in the field,” one nominator writes.
Her innovative work has earned her the highest honor for research in medical education: the Karolinska Institutet Prize for Research in Medical Education.
Lingard was the inaugural director of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry Centre for Education Research & Innovation, where she’s now a senior scientist.
In 2016, she co-led the development of a Masters of Health Professions Education (MHPE) program, an international collaboration between Western, University of British Columbia, and Maastricht University. As an MHPE instructor, she consistently receives outstanding evaluations. She also co-developed the Karolinska Institutet PRIME Fellowship, which aims to develop mid-career ‘high teaching flyers’ globally in the health professional education research domain.
Lingard encourages her students and fellow academics to write with the goal “to be read, rather than to be published.” She’s helped improve their scholarly writing and publication rates through her educational series The Writer’s Craft, published in the Perspectives on Medical Education journal and her book, co-authored with Christopher Watling, Story, not Study: 30 brief lessons to inspire health researchers as writers.
Lauded for his “ability to pursue novel ideas with ingenuity and perseverance,” Sun is a Canada Research Chair in Nanomaterials for Energy Conversion and Storage. His pioneering research in solid-state batteries has many practical implications in the safety and high-performance of future electric vehicles.
Sun’s research excellence saw him listed as a “Highly Cited Researcher” by Clarivate from 2018 to 2022, putting him in the top one per cent of citations for his field. He is also ranked no. one in terms of total impact among 961 professors at Western.
He has developed a variety of engineering materials and nanotechnologies into practical applications for clean energy. A strong collaborator, Sun has helped move novel technology into commercial products. His efforts have been instrumental in forming resulted extensive industrial partnerships, including those with General Motors, Ballard Power Systems, 3M and Glabat Solid-State Battery Co.
Sun has established himself as an excellent mentor and teacher, training more than 140 young scientists since joining Western in 2004. One third of these students have received prestigious fellowships and awards from government funding agencies and many of his former trainees now hold faculty positions (six professors in Canada) and are staff scientists in national research facilities around the world.
Many of his former students credit Sun for helping them identify and work toward their professional goals. He is renowned for offering his “unwavering support” and his wise advice to “compete against yourself, not others.”
Engineering dean Kenneth Coley notes Sun’s “remarkable vision, extraordinary efforts and accomplishments as a testament of a well-rounded scholar, who is committed to making a positive difference in society.”
The following professors were named 2023 Faculty Scholars:
Isha DeCoito, Faculty of Education
Len Luyt, chemistry, Faculty of Science
Kaitlynn Mendes, sociology, Faculty of Social Science
Marc Moreno Maza, computer science, Faculty of Science
Andrew Pruszynski, physiology and pharmacology, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry
Anthony Skelton, philosophy, Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Andrea Waters-Rist, anthropology, Faculty of Social Science
Fiona Webster, nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences
Shawn Whitehead, anatomy and cell biology, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry
Wade Wright, Faculty of Law
*with files from the Faculty of Education and the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry