The award is financed through a $250,000 endowment provided by Petro-Canada, and a matching annual contribution provided by McMaster University’s Office of the Vice-President Research. Each Faculty will be asked to forward up to one nomination.
This award is unique because it:
- recognizes the research achievements of an innovative scholar and educator within the first eight years of their career;
- supports early career faculty members with funding to enhance the learning environment in the department in which they teach; and
- enables the active participation of undergraduates in the research endeavour.
This award provides a means for the University to encourage creative thinking about ways in which researchers can enhance the undergraduate learning environment while encouraging undergraduate students involvement in educational research.
The award consists of:
- campus-wide recognition for innovative research achievement by an early career faculty member; and,
- $25,000 support towards a project to actively involve undergraduate students in research.
All full-time McMaster faculty members are eligible for this award, but only during the first eight years of their full-time faculty position at McMaster. Note that this award is intended for early career faculty members (i.e., normally in their first academic appointment of their career). The project should be completed in the year following receipt of the award.
*Please note: The time limits specified above may be extended in the situations that align with Section II clause 7(a) and (b) of the Tenure and Promotion Policy.
The application package consists of three parts (Further details of each of the above sections are listed below.):
- Part One – Research Accomplishments – This section is intended to qualify the applicant as an innovative researcher.
- Part Two – Overview of Educational Research Initiatives – This section is intended to demonstrate the applicant’s experience and thoughts around enhancing student learning environments and opportunities.
- Part Two – Project Proposal – This section will be used to detail the specific project plans to enhance student learning environments while involving undergraduate researchers in the process.
Part One: Research Accomplishments
The first part is meant to qualify the applicant as an innovative researcher. The candidate should collaborate with his or her department Chair or school Director to assemble the case for excellence. The evidence submitted must include:
- a current curriculum vitae; and,
- a brief (one-page) letter from the Chair/Director indicating the start date of the applicants appointment at McMaster University. The remainder of the letter should outline the reasons for considering the candidate’s educational research work as exceptional. This might include such information as a description of the candidate’s educational research goals, educational research accomplishments to date, other relevant honours or prizes, impact on teaching and learning with the department’s programs, impact on the work of colleagues, etc. If there is more than one potential nominee in a department, it is the Chair/Director’s responsibility to put forward the single best candidate.
Part Two: Overview of Educational Research Initiatives
This section is intended to demonstrate the applicant’s experiences and thoughts on enhancing student learning environments and opportunities. This portion of the application, up to two pages in length, should outline:
- educational research experiences, collaborations, and publications (if applicable);
- values, thoughts, and/or educational theories that inform and motivate the applicant’s teaching and educational research; and
- commentary on why the applicant believes they are well suited for the Petro Canada Young Innovator Fellowship, and how their views align to institutional priorities (e.g., Teaching & Learning Strategy, Digital Learning Strategy, Students as Partners philosophy)
Part Three: Project Proposal
Each candidate will prepare and submit a Project Proposal for engaging undergraduate students with their educational research.
The Project Proposal should be no longer than five pages and should include the following sections:
- Statement of Goals and Expected Outcomes;
- Method or Process;
- Plan for evaluating the impact of the project on the undergraduate program; and
- Plan for sharing the results of the project with the McMaster community
The evaluation process consists of two parts:
- The first part occurs at the Department and Faculty level and evaluates the each candidates application package. A simple rubric and/or evaluation scheme will be circulated to each Faculty to support this process. The top-ranked application in each Faculty is then forwarded to the MacPherson Institute. All candidates identified in this manner are assumed to meet the innovative educational research requirements of this award.
- The second phase of evaluation occurs at the institution level through a review committee consisting of representatives from each Faculty . The panel will select the award recipient by choosing the most innovative, impactful, and promising project proposal.
- Award announced in early January
- Complete application packages due to Dean’s Office: March 6, 2024
- Each Faculty to forward on application package to the MacPherson Institute (firstname.lastname@example.org) by March 20, 2024.
- Applications reviewed centrally: March 20, 2024 – April 10, 2024
- Award winner announced: April 17, 2024 (notification to be sent directly to each Faculty Dean)
- Funding to be transferred to the applicant’s research account by Vice-President, Research Office
- Following the selection process at the Faculty level, it is the responsibility of the Faculty Dean (or their designate) to notify all Faculty applicants of the status of their application (i.e., whether their application moved forward for institutional consideration, or not)
- The MacPherson Institute will communicate directly with applicants who are reviewed at the institutional level to inform them of the status of their application (i.e., successful, or not) following the institutional review process.
- An end-of-project report will be due August 31, 16-months after the award is announced.
2023 Petro-Canda Young Innovator Award
Pat Clancy is an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Physics and Astronomy at McMaster University and a member of the Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research. His research focuses on the study of novel quantum materials, such as low-dimensional and geometrically frustrated magnets, spin-orbit-driven materials, and high temperature superconductors. Pat’s research group specializes in sample synthesis and crystal growth of new materials, and the investigation of their structural and magnetic properties using x-ray and neutron scattering techniques. In addition to experimental Physics, Pat also has an active interest in Physics Education Research, particularly as it relates to the development of virtual learning resources and the teaching of quantum mechanics.
Pat received his B.Sc. in Physics from St. Francis Xavier University, and his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Physics from McMaster. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto, and has previously held positions as an Assistant Professor at Trent University and as a neutron instrument scientist at the McMaster Nuclear Reactor. He has held Banting, Heater, and McCall MacBain postdoctoral fellowships, and was awarded the John Charles Polanyi Prize in Physics for Early Career Research.
Project Title: Making the Quantum Leap: New Strategies for Teaching Quantum Physics
Quantum mechanics is one of the most important fields of modern physics, lying at the heart of every computer or cell phone, and helping to shape our fundamental understanding of the natural world. However, it is easy for the surprisingly elegant (and often counterintuitive) ideas of quantum mechanics to be lost among the mathematical complexity. This can lead to the misconception that quantum physics is abstract, esoteric, or irrelevant to our daily lives. This poses a major challenge for physics education, since the principles of quantum mechanics are often crucial for understanding the practical applications of physics, including electronics, optics, and materials science. Education and training in quantum physics is only likely to become more important in the future, as Canada’s emerging “quantum technology” industry continues to grow. According to a recent economic analysis by the National Research Council of Canada, the Canadian quantum technology industry is predicted to be worth over $8 billion by the year 2030, with the potential to employ over 16,000 Canadian workers. The government of Canada has identified this field as a national priority, supported by the launch of a National Quantum Strategy, which will involve a $360M investment in the “quantum ecosystem” over the next 7 years. McMaster is well-positioned to take advantage of this quantum leap, building on traditional strengths in quantum materials research, access to unique materials characterization facilities (such as the McMaster Nuclear Reactor and the Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research), and proximity to the Quantum Valley between Toronto and Waterloo (home to the majority of the country’s quantum startup companies).
The goal of this project is to develop new strategies for improving the teaching of quantum physics at McMaster. This will be accomplished by pursuing two different themes:
- Exploring student attitudes towards quantum physics – This aspect of the project will involve designing an online survey instrument to probe student attitudes and understanding of quantum mechanics. This survey will be targeted at undergraduate students from the Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, at all levels of study (from 1st year to 4th year). Survey data will be collected at three different time-points throughout the year: start of Fall term (Sept. 2023), end of Fall term (Dec. 2023), and end of Winter term (March 2024). This will allow us to examine how student attitudes change and evolve over time, particularly in relation to the major quantum-focused courses in the current curriculum: Physics 2C03 (Modern Physics), Physics 3MM3 (Quantum Mechanics I), Physics 3QI3 (Introduction to Quantum Information), Physics 4F03 (Quantum Mechanics II), Physics 4K03 (Solid State Physics), and Physics 4Q03 (Introduction to Quantum Field Theory). The results of this study will be invaluable for examining the impact of our current strategies for teaching quantum mechanics.
- Designing a new course to provide an experimental introduction to quantum materials –This aspect of the project will involve developing a series of 9 hands-on lab experiments suitable for upper-year undergraduates in the Dept. of Physics & Astronomy. These experiments will form the backbone for a new course, intended to fill the gap between the current 3rd-year advanced lab course (Physics 3P03 – very hands-on, but not focused on quantum physics) and the upper year quantum mechanics courses (very focused, but entirely theoretical in nature). This type of experimental quantum materials course would provide students with a more accessible entry-point to the study of quantum mechanics, with more obvious connections to the practical applications of the subject matter. It would also provide students with unique experiential learning opportunities, and a chance to take advantage of state-of-the-art scientific equipment and materials characterization facilities available at McMaster. New materials and lab manuals will be developed for this course in Summer 2023, then tested out with students in Fall 2023/ Winter 2024. If successful, this course could be added to the official course calendar in Fall 2024. We believe this experimental introduction to quantum materials has the potential for an extremely positive impact on our current approach to teaching quantum physics at McMaster.
In addition to the two outcomes described above, this project will also culminate in a one-day McMaster Quantum Symposium (May 2024). This symposium is intended to serve as an opportunity for internal dissemination of project results, but also as an opportunity to highlight the world-class quantum research being carried out at McMaster. The program for the symposium will include presentations by the undergraduate student researchers involved in this project, as well as local graduate students working in experimental and theoretical studies of quantum physics and quantum materials. If successful, it is our hope that this symposium could become a regular annual education and outreach event.
2022 Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award
Selina Mudavanhu is an Assistant Professor in Communication Studies and Media Arts at McMaster University. Dr. Mudavanhu has established herself as a key voice in the study of African media, representations of race, and activism in social media. Her research has developed along two complimentary lines, focusing on:
- critical media studies, focusing on how those with power constitute meanings around race and other intersecting identities in mainstream media and social media texts and
- digital storytelling, looking at the manner ordinary people speak back to power, articulate their experiences and create alternative meanings with digital tools at their disposal.
Since 2013, Dr. Mudavanhu has published ten peer-reviewed articles (plus another one submitted for review) and one peer-review book chapter (with another accepted for publication in final form). Four of these pieces have been published since she came to McMaster in 2019. She is currently working on a co-edited volume focusing on decolonizing media education in Africa with colleagues at the Universities of Limpopo and Johannesburg in South Africa.
Before coming to McMaster, Dr. Mudavanhu held three different postdoctoral research fellowships: at University of Cape Town (2015–17), University of Johannesburg (2017–18), and Ryerson University (2018–19).
Project Title: Twenty-Twenty Hindsight Project: Digital Memoirs by Black Senior Undergraduate Students by Dr. Selina Mudavanhu
Project Abstract: In mainstream discourses, Canada is constructed as a country more tolerant and embracing of diversity and multiculturalism than the United States (Gismondi, 2017). Further, Canada is portrayed as a post-race country in which racism is non-existent (DasGupta et al, 2020). This is notwithstanding the lived realities of Black and racialized people in the country. DasGupta et al (2020) elaborate that recent evidence reveals that anti-Black racism in Canada is deeply entrenched and insidious. Further, “systemic racism against Black individuals appears across their full lifecycle in areas like education, employment, healthcare, and policing.” Also dismissing as fiction conceptualizations of Canada as non-racist, Foster (2020) avers that “racial inequity is woven into the fabric of Canadian institutions and is normalized in everyday practices.” Using digital technologies and facilities available in the Lyons New Media Centre housed in the McMaster University library, ten Black senior undergraduate students will use the autoethnographic research method to reflect on and record in digital format their intersectional experiences of studying at McMaster and of living in Canada in bodies raced as Black. Drawing on the ‘letters to my younger self’ concept, participants in the project will be asked to reflect on the following key question: Given your experiences as a Black undergraduate student, what advice related to navigating life and university spaces in Black bodies would you give to your younger self? In this project, advice by participants has potential to encourage Black freshmen and sophomores as they contend with circumstances similar to those that would have been encountered by their seniors.
2021 Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award
Dilyana Mincheva is an Assistant Professor in Critical Media in the Department of Communication Studies and Media Arts at McMaster University, Canada. Her most recent research is engaged with the culturological study of Islamic feminism, and the politics of image in cinematic feminism and utopia. She is the bearer of two international awards for research excellence (2012 and 2015) granted by the Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society and the author of the monograph The Politics of Western Muslim Intellectual Discourse in the West: The Emergence of a Western-Islamic Public Sphere (Sussex, 2016). Mincheva is currently at work on a second monograph focused on socially and cinematically mediated forms of Islamic feminism.
Project Title: The Academic Screenplay: Intersections of Creative Arts and Media Research
A recent and widely unexplored form of screenwriting has emerged in the last five years within creative or media arts programs in North America: “the academic screenplay.” Unlike the industrial-based practice of screenwriting, the academic screenplay is driven by academic research. This project will create a new lab environment, the CoMMa Script Frenzy Lab, in which McMaster undergraduate students will research, explore, and practice creative methods of translating and communicating scholarly knowledge through the development of their own research-based scripts. The case for the academic screenplay at the undergraduate level is that students will learn how to make use of the intellectual space offered by the academy – by exploring the theoretical scope of concepts central to research in the media arts, such as transnational cinema, arthouse cinema, orientalism, postcolonial critique, critical race theory, screen theory, feminism, agency and selfhood – to incubate and experiment with ideas while crafting an artefact of their own. This is important, first, for students’ understanding of humanities theory as a life form of thought and presence in the world. Second, this is important for students’ own formation as communication and media arts professionals who aspire to either continue this line of work in graduate school or to be commercially published and produced. Finally, the academic screenplay allows for reflective authenticity on the side of the writer, which stands for a deep self-examination of the positionings, and identification processes involved in the creative process. The academic screenplay is precisely the space where students negotiate and resist previously hegemonic modes of storytelling and representation, well documented in critical media studies: orientalist stereotypes, racist and xenophobic cliches, patriarchal, transphobic or misogynistic screen gazes. Work within the creative-critical nexus of screenwriting offers, among other things, fruitful possibilities for our students to develop portfolios for graduate studies in the field of film and television writing or to approach the creative industry directly. In pursuit of these objectives, the Petro-Canada McMaster Award will allow me to develop a model for mentorship, assessment and promotion of the academic screenplays written by my undergraduate students in four major steps: (1) a series of structured workshops, providing theoretical and practical content (modules on scriptwriting) and peer mentorship/collaboration for as many as 15 undergraduate students; (2) a mini-conference with presentations to the wider McMaster community of the students’ scriptwriting projects and reflections on the Lab project and process; (3) training of a student research assistant in methods of scriptwriting, workshop facilitation, peer mentorship, and evaluation; (4) conference presentations, a website, and a research article that share the project’s outcomes and model with broader academic and industry audiences.
Adrianne Lickers Xavier is the acting Director of the Indigenous Studies Program. Her recently completed doctoral research focused in on Indigenous Food sovereignty and security in her home community of Six Nations. As the first McMaster Indigenous Research Institute ‘Indigenous In-Community Scholar’, Adrianne is working directly with her community in partnership with Six Nations Health Services to address the questions and needs around food sovereignty. Adrianne’s passion for community and food work is evident in her research.
Project Title: Indigenous Research as Community
This research will engage students to understand research as active participants in as many aspects of research as possible. All of this will be accomplished within an Indigenous research lens, including the participation of a 4th year seminar, growing a research project at McMaster and culminating in a research event. The project will be to participate, build and grow their own research; learning the skills to build community and build a dynamic research project.
The aim of this project is to engage undergraduate students in the research process and activities. I hope to do that in ways that I am already doing and also expand. The goal ultimately is to enhance the education of my undergraduate students, promote and expose them to graduate level research and education and also find ways to engage students in ‘real world’ activities. This project will be a first step for myself and my students to create a project with students and engage in not only a wellness project for Indigenous students but also the Indigenous research and ways of knowing that I use myself.