Sean Phillips, for the University of Calgary
Oct. 25, 2023
2023 Killam Awards celebrate mentorship excellence
The University of Calgary prioritizes education and mentorship to create an environment where students can thrive. The dedication of its undergraduate and graduate educators plays a pivotal role in shaping students' learning experiences and preparing them for a successful and impactful future.
Two faculty members’ exceptional commitment to mentorship and supervision were acknowledged and celebrated at this year’s 2023 Killam Awards.
Killam Undergraduate Mentorship Award
Dr. Maria Victoria Guglietti, MA’04, PhD
Assistant professor (teaching), Department of Communication, Media and Film, Faculty of Arts
Maria Victoria Guglietti has made a remarkable impact in undergraduate mentorship and research education. Her mentorship extends to research supervision in various programs, such as the Program for Undergraduate Research Experience (PURE). One of her notable achievements is the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) project that explores the relationship between undergraduate students and social research methods skills. Her research emphasized the need for students to connect with research education on a personal level to understand its relevance and value for their personal growth.
Since joining the Faculty of Arts in 2019, she has consistently supervised an average of four undergraduate research projects per academic year, often exceeding expectations for an assistant professor (teaching).
Guglietti is driven to integrate research experiences into classes that aren't solely focused on research methods. By introducing research assignments into various courses, she exposes students to the difference between opinion and evidence-based knowledge, fostering a deeper understanding of academic knowledge-production.
A key part of Guglietti's mentorship philosophy is her acknowledgment that failure is integral to the learning process. Particularly in research-intensive courses, she challenges her students to step out of their comfort zones and attempt unorthodox assignments.
“When pushing students to adopt unusual forms of research, they may find themselves failing because they’re so used to reverting to what they’re used to,” she says. “When you open yourself to discovery, there is the chance of failure, and that’s okay.”
Guglietti emphasizes that in academia, the focus on outcomes often overshadows the importance of the learning process. She advocates for being flexible with the form of expression, valuing the process as much as the outcome. She believes that valuable discoveries can be made, even if something doesn't turn out as expected.
Her unwavering dedication to her students empowers them to discover their potential and embrace the transformative journey of research, rendering her more than deserving of the Killam Undergraduate Mentorship Award.
Killam Graduate Supervision and Mentorship Award
Dr. Steven Boyd, PhD
Professor, Department of Radiology, Cumming School of Medicine, Faculty of Kinesiology (joint), and Schulich School of Engineering (joint)
Steven Boyd, whose career spans over two decades at UCalgary, is being recognized with the Killam Graduate Supervision and Mentorship Award for his unparalleled mentorship of graduate students.
Boyd's contributions to the field of biomedical engineering are substantial, but his distinctive impact lies in his dedication to nurturing the next generation of scientists.
For Boyd, mentoring students is one of the most important roles of a faculty member in his position. Over the past two decades, he has served as the primary supervisor for 30 MSc and 20 PhD students, as well as mentoring 12 postdocs and several undergraduate students. His profound impact on his students is evident in their successful career trajectories, with many receiving prestigious awards and scholarships, including the CIHR Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship and the international S.M. Perren Research Award.
One remarkable aspect of Boyd's mentorship is his ability to connect with students from diverse academic backgrounds, welcoming students with experience ranging from engineering sectors to kinesiology, math and computer science. Boyd says this diversity creates a cultural momentum, allowing his students to find their unique paths and foster a collaborative and interdisciplinary research environment.
Reflecting on his role as a mentor, Boyd enjoys engaging with students in different stages of their academic journey. "One of the things that's interesting about mentoring graduate students is I get older and older every year, but the graduate students stay the same age,” he says.
“It’s great to be able to stay connected to the younger generation and their enthusiasm for learning."
In Boyd’s role as scientific director of the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health he also established the McCaig Trainee Committee (MTC), giving graduate students autonomy to initiate various projects enhancing their academic experience. This empowerment has allowed graduate students to explore the intersection of art and science, host scientific seminar series, create research grant programs and develop a podcast series.
Boyd’s philosophy emphasizes empowering students by challenging them, instilling resilience, and recognizing that facing challenges and overcoming them is a part of the scientific journey.
Sean Phillips, for the University of Calgary
Congratulations to the 2023 Killam awardees
The 2023 Killam Awards illuminate the contributions of exemplary educators whose unwavering dedication to fostering curiosity, creativity, resilience, and inclusivity in research and learning shapes not only their students' academic journeys, but also future leaders in their respective fields.
"UCalgary is an institution that fosters a space for students to have the mentorship they need to succeed,” says Dr. William Ghali, vice-president (research). “Educators like Dr. Guglietti and Dr. Boyd exemplify how dedication to students not only enriches students' academic journey, but also encourages their personal and professional growth."
UCalgary's acknowledgment of their contributions reinforces the vital role of mentorship in shaping the leaders of tomorrow.