Honours bestowed on two faculty members at Rady Faculty convocations
At today’s Rady Faculty of Health Sciences’ convocation ceremonies, two U of M faculty members will be recognized for their outstanding contributions to research and teaching: Dr. James Davie will have the title of Distinguished Professor conferred upon him, and Professor Laura MacDonald will receive the Dr. and Mrs. H. H. Saunderson Award for Excellence in Teaching.
B.SC.(HONS.)(UBC), PH.D. (UBC)
This recognition was established by the Board of Governors of the University to recognize excellence and outstanding achievements of members of the academic staff. The title is conferred on the basis of outstanding distinction in research and scholarship or in creative professional activity, and a significant record in teaching.
Dr. James Davie’s transformative research has improved our understanding of how genes in normal and diseased cells express themselves, including how a fatty acid named butyrate can arrest the spread of cancer cells. He made this momentous discovery relatively early in his career, and he and his team built upon the success, publishing a series of papers that set the foundation for the development of a new class of anti-cancer drugs.
Today, as a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Chromatin Dynamics, he remains at the forefront of biological exploration, primarily investigating how certain molecules called chromatin modifiers regulate gene expression. With more than 30 years of experience in epigenetics, Dr. Davie has published over 215 peer-reviewed articles for prestigious publications such as Cell, Science and Nature and his work has been cited no fewer than 18,900 times. He has also contributed to the scientific community by working as associate editor and co-editor of many scientific journals.
Dr. Davie joined the University of Manitoba’s department of biochemistry and medical genetics in 1983 after completing postdoctoral work at Oregon State University, and he has since held numerous appointments. He is currently a senior scientist at the Research Institute in Oncology and Hematology and a scientist at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba. From 2000 until 2008, he served as the provincial director (research) at CancerCare Manitoba, and held the positions of director and Margaret H. Sellers Chair at the Manitoba Institute of Cell Biology.
He is the founder of the Manitoba Epigenetics Network and is a member of the Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium executive. He has promoted Canadian science through his many years of service with the Canadian Society of Molecular Bioscience, where he currently serves as the general secretary. He was also the former executive director, and scientific director, of the Manitoba Health Research Council.
Dr. Davie’s prestigious career has garnered many awards and distinctions, including the University of Manitoba Health Science’s Graduate Students’ Association Award for Distinction in Mentorship in 2006. In 2015 he was elected as both a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Dr. and Mrs. H. H. Saunderson Award for Excellence in Teaching
Dip. D. Hyg. (Manitoba), M.Ed. (Manitoba)
This award recognizes an outstanding University of Manitoba educator who has taught for more than 10 years at the U of M and who has demonstrated continuing teaching excellence, and made contributions to advancing teaching and learning at the University of Manitoba, as well as at the national or international level.
Professor Laura MacDonald is an innovative educator who has improved the learning environment for both dental hygiene students and faculty members at the University of Manitoba. Her teaching strategies create life-long learners and critical thinkers and her commitment to inter-professional health care education has greatly influenced how students approach patient care.
Professor MacDonald earned her diploma in dental hygiene in 1981 and later completed her master’s in education in 1987; both at the University of Manitoba.
She joined the University of Manitoba as a faculty member 30 years ago and has since received numerous teaching awards, including the Students’ Teacher Recognition award, for which she has been honoured three times. She has also been nominated twice for the National Dentistry Teaching Award and has been presented with the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association Excellence in Teaching Award.
Her students praise her creative lectures, lively classroom dynamics and unique assignments. Professor MacDonald sets high standards for herself and in doing so, inspires, excites and enables learners to excel. Her methods and ideas are well-respected and she is a regular presenter at the annual American Dental Educators Conference.
Outside of the classroom, she has served the University of Manitoba as a faculty development workshop facilitator with the Centre for Advancement of Teaching and Learning, as well as the Max Rady College of Medicine’s Teaching Improvement Program, the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences Office of Educational and Faculty Development, and the Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry. She has also facilitated curriculum reviews with several faculties and has been a peer mentor to several new faculty members.
The University of Manitoba is proud to award the Dr. and Mrs. H.H. Saunderson Award for Excellence in Teaching to Professor Laura MacDonald.