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A woman in snow gear is standing to the left; a man in outdoor expedition gear stands to the right.

Karen Alley (left) and Paul Durkin (right) are the recipients of the 2023 Riddell Teaching Awards.

Celebrating excellence in teaching – 2023 Riddell Teaching Awards

The Clayton H. Riddell Faculty celebrates the accomplishments of its teaching staff from 2023.

November 23, 2023 — 

Two faculty members from the Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth, and Resources have been recognized with the 2023 Teaching Awards. Paul Durkin and Karen Alley have been recognized for their outstanding commitment and dedication to the students of the Riddell Faculty. Find out more about each recipient below.

Paul Durkin, Assistant Professor, Department of Earth Sciences – Award of Excellence for Undergraduate Teaching

Two people standing in front of dinosaur bones.

Dean Stephan Pflugmacher Lima (left) pictured with Teaching Award recipient Paul Durkin (right).

Paul Durkin is a hard-working and patient educator within the Riddell Faculty’s Department of Earth Sciences. He is passionate about a field-based approach to learning through the use of innovative and analytical technologies.

Dr. Durkin’s research aims to extract vital information from the sedimentary record to resolve and understand the temporal and spatial context of the significant discoveries and time periods throughout Earth’s history. 

Dr. Durkin is also the lead investigator for the Rivers to Rocks research group. They tackle projects spanning across the globe. This includes research from the “badlands” of Dinosaur Provincial Park, where they study the evolution of Late Cretaceous rivers in context to dinosaur discoveries. Rivers to Rocks also analyzes the impact of extreme flooding on the Assiniboine River in southwestern Manitoba, and the paleoenvironmental reconstructions of habitats in rift-basin sediments of Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania.

“I like to be challenged, so [Paul Durkin’s] teaching strategy keeps me motivated and almost always, I would come out of our discussion with much more knowledge.” -Katrina, Honours Student

Congratulations, Paul! The Riddell Faculty is honoured to have your drive and expertise as a part of our team.

Karen Alley, Assistant Professor, Department of Environment & Geography – Award of Excellence for Graduate Teaching

Two people standing in front of a glass display case of fossils.

Dean Stephan Pflugmacher Lima (left) pictured with Teaching Award recipient Karen Alley (right).

Karen Alley is an enthusiastic and thoughtful educator within the Riddell Faculty’s Department of Environment & Geography. In her research, she is passionate about understanding how the world’s glaciers and ice sheets are contributing to sea-level rise in a warming climate.

Dr. Alley is fascinated by the ice-ocean interactions that control the stabilization of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets. This includes many small ice caps and glaciers. Her work has focused on the nature of melting beneath the floating ice shelves surrounding the Antarctic continent, which alters the rate of ice delivery to the ocean.

Currently, Dr. Alley’s interests have expanded to include other processes from different ice-stream boundaries. Most of her work is carried out through satellite remote sensing techniques and through the collection of field data.

“Dr. Alley was one of the best instructors I’ve ever had. She is very clearly dedicated to teaching and puts a lot of time into preparing. She is passionate about the subject and more than happy to share her own experiences with different cryospheric features, whether it be Thwaites glacier or just rock rings that she found near town in Resolute.” -David Babb, Research Associate

Congratulations, Karen! It is a privilege for the Riddell Faculty to learn from you.

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