Supervision Award for Faculty Members

The School of Graduate Studies Supervision Awards aim to recognize outstanding performance in the multiple roles associated with graduate student supervision. Each year, two JJ Berry Smith Doctoral Supervision Awards and two SGS Early Career Supervision Awards will be offered to successful nominees: one of each award in the Humanities/Social Sciences and in the Physical/Life Sciences.

Each Award recipient receives an SGS Supervision Award certificate, an SGS Travel or Conference Grant (up to $5000) for a current student to support their research travel or conference presentation. Award winners have their names inscribed on a plaque housed at the School of Graduate Studies

The annual SGS Graduate Student Supervision Awards honour active faculty members who, over a minimum of a 15-year period (JJ Berry Smith Doctoral Supervision Award) or up to 6 years (SGS Early Career Supervision Award), have demonstrated excellence in supervision at the University of Toronto by:

  • inspiring and guiding students to reach excellence in scholarship;
  • providing an environment that is supportive and stimulating;
  • enabling students to learn the essential methodologies, concepts and cultures of their discipline;
  • introducing students to the wider content of the discipline and relevant communities of scholars;
  • positioning students for future careers both within and outside academe;
  • fostering a strong sense of academic integrity.

The 2021 Winners

JJ Berry Smith Award for Doctoral Supervision

Dr. Marie-Josée Fortin and Dr. Grace Skogstad are this year’s recipients of the JJ Berry Smith Doctoral Supervision Award, which recognizes outstanding performance in the multiple roles associated with doctoral (PhD, EdD, DMA, SJD) supervision.

Ecologist by training; Marie-JosÈe has four main research areas: (1) spatial ecology,(2) disturbance ecology,(3) conservation and (4) spatial statistics.

Dr. Marie-Josée Fortin, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology: Dr. Marie-Josée Fortin is a University Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Throughout her career, Professor Fortin has supervised doctoral students, master’s students, and postdoctoral fellows who now have positions as professors or researchers at governmental agencies, NGOs and industries. Her training is not limited to the acquisition of academic knowledge but also involves enhancing the professional aspects of her trainees’ scientific careers.

Dr. Fortin earned her B.Sc and M.Sc. in Biology from the University of Montréal and her Ph.D. in Ecology & Evolution from SUNY Stony Brook. She also holds a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Spatial Ecology, and is recognized internationally as a leader in her field, having devoted her career to the development of novel spatial statistics, quantitative methods, and spatially explicit simulation models in quantitative ecology to predict species dispersal. Dr. Fortin has also authored an acclaimed book (first and second edition) on spatial analysis in ecology (Fortin & Dale 2005, Dale & Fortin 2014) and co-authored a textbook on spatial ecology and conservation (Fletcher & Fortin 2019) as well as a monograph on the quantitative analysis of ecological networks (Dale & Fortin 2021). Click to learn more.

Dr. Grace Skogstad, Department of Political Science: For Dr. Grace Skogstad, working with graduate students is a privileged relationship: an opportunity to work with the best minds of future generations. Since joining the University of Toronto in 1986, Dr. Skogstad has worked closely with over 60 graduate students as their supervisor or dissertation committee member, a contribution that was recognized when she was described, on winning the Mildred A. Schwartz Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Political Science Association in 2019, as having “trained a generation of Canadian political scientists.” Dr. Skogstad sees her role as a graduate supervisor as not only providing timely and constructive intellectual advice but also personal support, research collaborations, and professional mentorship.

Dr. Skogstad has authored or edited eleven books and over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters on Canadian politics and comparative public policy. She served as Chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto Scarborough from 2012 to 2020, and, in 2020-21 as Interim, Associate Vice-Principal Research, Strategic Initiatives, UTSC. A former President of the Canadian Political Science Association, she is the current President of the International Public Policy Association, where she has been involved since 2013 in the international training of PhD students in public policy. Click to learn more.

Past Recipients

Early Career Supervision Award

Dr. Keith Pardee and Dr. T.L. Cowan are the inaugural recipients of the new Early Career Supervision Award, which recognizes pre-tenure faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in the various roles associated with graduate supervision.

“I want to see my students thriving in the path and after they graduate, in whatever path they are choosing.”: Dr. Keith Pardee

Keith Pardee is the Canada Research Chair in Synthetic Biology in Human Health (Tier II) and is based at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto. The Pardee Lab offers an environment where students can harness their passion for research to build technologies dedicated to improving access to health care.While still in its early days, the lab’s entrepreneurial spirit has created three trainee-led start-ups, amongst other commercialization efforts, that are dedicating to bringing their technologies to real world applications.

Since starting the Pardee lab in 2016, Keith and his group have focused on pioneering in vitro devices to host cell-free synthetic gene networks for broad applications in sensing and human health. To do this, genetically encoded tools and the freeze-dried enzymes of transcription and translation are embedded into porous materials, such as paper. Using this approach, they have created biosafe platforms for low-cost diagnostics (e.g. Zika, COVID-19), the portable production of protein-based therapeutics (e.g. vaccines, antibodies), and classroom education. The lab’s ongoing work is dedicated to continued integration of molecular and hardware tools to produce small, programmable sensors and devices to de-centralize access to health care.

Keith lives in Toronto with his partner and two young sons and enjoys hiking around Ontario’s green spaces. Click here to learn more.

“My philosophy comes from approaching graduate degrees as though nothing is self evident” : Dr. T.L. Cowan

T.L. Cowan is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies in the Department of Arts Culture and Media (UTSC) and the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. Dr. Cowan’s research in trans- feminist and queer arts and activism leads her to value rigour, creativity, accountability and improvisation in scholarship and mentorship. With Prof. Jas Rault, Dr. Cowan is co-director of the Cabaret Commons and the Digital Research Ethics Collaboratory (DREC). She is also a co-director of the Critical Digital Methods Institute (CDMI) at the University of Toronto Scarborough and a co-author of the Feminist Data Manifest-NO. Through these initiatives, Dr. Cowan works with many graduate students whose research and creative practices connect with, inform, and extend beyond these projects.

Dr. Cowan joined the University of Toronto in 2017 after holding positions at Yale University, The New School, and the University of Saskatchewan. From 2013-2016, she was the Chair of Pedagogy for the Feminist Technology Network (FemTechNet) where she collaboratively designed the first Distributed Open Collaborative Course (DOCC), an online course with dozens of faculty and hundreds of students, taught across universities, colleges and community centres around the world, using principles of engaged pedagogy and feminist technology studies. Click here to learn more.

Award Overview

Deadline: Date set locally by graduate unit/Faculty
Faculty Nomination to SGS: April 1, 2022
Results & Presentation of Award: May 2022

Eligibility Criteria

Nominees must be:

JJ Berry Smith Doctoral Supervision Award:
• Active graduate faculty members at the University of Toronto, having supervised doctoral students (PhD, EdD, DMA, SJD) for a minimum of 15 years

Early Career Supervision Award:
• Tenure stream or status only graduate faculty members at the University of Toronto within the first six years of acquiring a graduate faculty appointment, having engaged in supervision of graduate students (master’s degree or doctoral degree) in committee member, co-supervisor or sole supervisor roles.

Selection Criteria

Nominations will be evaluated based on how well the candidates have demonstrated excellence in supervision at the University of Toronto by meeting and exceeding each selection criteria below:

  1. Inspiring and guiding students to achieve excellence in scholarship, fostering a strong sense of academic integrity;
  2. Providing an environment that is supportive with particular attention to mental health and work life balance, while stimulating and tailored to their individual learning styles, needs, and career/future aspirations;
  3. Enabling students to learn the essential methodologies, concepts and cultures of their discipline;
  4. Introducing students to the wider context of the discipline and relevant communities of scholars; and
  5. Promoting student participation in professional development and activities that position them for future careers within and outside academia;
  6. Leading a research environment that is committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion.

In an effort to assist Faculties in reviewing their nominations, an SGS Scoring Sheet is available for Faculties’ internal selection committee use, and may be shared with nominators/nominees.

Nomination Package

The nomination package provides evidence that the nominee has met the above six criteria as demonstrated through the following:

  • Completed Nomination Form & Table A: List of nominators;
  • A substantial Faculty letter of recommendation from the Dean/Vice-Dean, Graduate (2 pages), which clearly sets out the basis for the nomination. Letter should provide context for the discipline: e.g. clearly address the supervisory norms (including expectations for publishing and presenting with supervised students), types of students (e.g. placement in academia vs. industry), publication norms (especially for early career nominees), and how the nominee stands out among peers in the same discipline;
  • Letters of nomination (letters may be from an individual or group):
    • A letter from the department chair, current or former colleague(s); and
    • Two to five letters from current or former students(s) – group letters are encouraged;
  • A statement written by the candidate (2-3 pages, suitable for public release):
    • Addressing the candidate’s graduate mentoring/supervision philosophy, and
    • Describing the candidate’s personal approach or strategies for mentoring/supervision;
  • A completed Table B: listing all current and former graduate (master’s and doctoral) students including their degree information, current positions, etc. (see attached Table B: List of graduate students); and
  • Abbreviated Curriculum Vitae (max. 8 pages) addressing the following categories, as applicable:
    • Academic Appointment(s)
    • Mentoring or Supervision awards
    • Awards for joint work with graduate students
    • Funded or unfunded grants with graduate students
    • ­All publications within the last 5 years with notations* to indicate those co-published with graduate students:
      • Additionally, list only co-publications with graduate students beyond the last five years and:
        • Within the last 15 years for JJ Berry Smith Award; or
        • Within last 6 years for Early Career Award
    • ­Co-presentations with graduate students
      • Within the last 15 years for JJ Berry Smith Award; or
      • Within the last 6 years for Early Career Award
    • ­Past and current graduate supervision roles (including supervisor and committee memberships)
    • External appraisals of doctoral dissertations, which includes:
      1. Appraisal of a thesis or dissertation completed at a university where the nominee was not a faculty member; and
      2. Appraisal of a thesis or dissertation completed at the same university as the nominee and supervised by a committee that did not include the nominee. 
    • Service related to graduate student support, supervision or mentoring
    • Other activities or accomplishments relevant to graduate student supervision and mentorship.

*Please indicate publications with current or former graduate student co-authors using the following notations: highlighting the publication in yellow; and underlining the names of graduate students within each publication.

Nomination Process

Faculty nominations are due to the Dean of Graduate Studies and Vice-Provost, Graduate Research and Education through the Faculty Dean or Vice Dean Graduate Office.

Students, faculty members and staff wishing to submit a nomination package for Students, faculty members and staff wishing to submit a nomination package for consideration by their Faculty should contact their home graduate unit to inquire about the selection process and local deadlines.

Faculties may nominate one candidate in each of the four divisions (Humanities, Social Sciences, Physical Science, Life Science) to a maximum of four nominees per award, i.e. up to four nominees for the JJ Berry Smith Award and up to four nominees for the Early Career Supervisor Award.  Requests for an additional quota may be considered by SGS where a Faculty has two exceptional candidates from within the same discipline. Each nomination package is to be submitted electronically as a single PDF file via email.

Please retain the original application materials until June 30, 2022. In the event that a candidate is being put forth for other supervision/ mentorship awards, faculty offices will be contacted to provide documents in MS Word format.

Nominations are due to SGS from Faculties by April 1, 2022 to:

Dean of Graduate Studies and Vice-Provost, Graduate Research and Education
c/o Graduate Awards Office
School of Graduate Studies
Tel: 416-978-2205

Contacts & Resources

Stacey Kwan, Graduate Awards Officer
School of Graduate Studies

See also: CTSI Resources​.