Faculty of Health hands out awards to six professors

At its first Faculty Council meeting of the year last Wednesday, the Faculty of Health paid tribute to six faculty members for their outstanding contributions in teaching, research and service.

The Faculty of Health Dean’s Awards were presented to the following faculty members: Jonathan Weiss, Michael Riddell, Parissa Safai, Carol Wilson, Janessa Drake and David Hood.

“My warmest congratulations to Parissa, Janessa, Jonathan, Michael, Carol and David, who are stellar examples of the excellence and leadership that our faculty members are known for,” said Faculty of Health Dean Harvey Skinner. “Through their work, they are advancing the boundaries of health and human science, as well as inspiring a new generation of students to become leaders and agents of change for health.”


Pictured above, from left: Faculty of Health Dean Harvey Skinner, Parissa Safai, Janessa Drake, Michael Riddell, Jonathan Weiss, Carol Wilson and Associate Dean Research William Gage. Missing from photo: David Hood

Jonathan Weiss
Research Award – Early Career

Weiss was recognized for his outstanding research productivity and reach. He was awarded the Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research last year, which comes with $2 million in funding over five years. His publications appear in no fewer than 16 different journals, including all the top-tier journals in his field. He has published in the broad area of intellectual disabilities, including Special Olympics, family stress and coping, intervention for Asperger syndrome, mental health issues in autism spectrum disorders and bullying in children.

Michael Riddell
Research Award – Established Career

Riddell has successfully obtained more than $1.7 million in funding grants in the past three years alone, and more than $7.8 million in total funding. His research looks at the metabolic and hormonal responses to exercise and stress in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. He is also committed to training future researchers, with 14 undergrad thesis students, 13 Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada-funded summer students, 19 MSc students and four PhD students. He has published more than 80 peer-reviewed manuscripts and 16 text book chapters on exercise and stress physiology in health and disease, and is the founder and director of the York University Diabetes Sports Camp.

Parissa Safai
Service Award – Early Career

Safai has participated in committee activities at every level of the University, from the School of Kinesiology to the Faculty of Health, the Faculty of Graduate Studies and the University Senate. Her service has extended outside of the University, notably as a member of the Get Active Toronto Advisory Committee and the Sport Canada Research Initiative Advisory Committee, both since 2009. Her nomination letter stated: “Dr. Safai has had a serious impact on the way York University is governed and, importantly, in steering its future direction.”

Carol Wilson
Service Award – Established Career

Wilson is a long-serving member of the School of Kinesiology & Health Science. She was the undergraduate program director over three separate terms, served as lead for two undergrad program reviews, and led the accreditation process of the undergraduate program by the Canadian Council of Physical Education and Kinesiology Administrators. From 1972 to 1981, she served as don of Founders College and, more recently, she spearheaded the highly successful welcome event for more than 650 Kinesiology & Health Science first-year students, called “Destination Graduation”. Her nomination letter closes with the following: “Carol Wilson is a remarkable faculty member who has served York University with distinction.”

Janessa Drake
Teaching Award – Early Career

Drake specializes in the area of spine biomechanics and has taught anatomy, introductory biomechanics of human movement and clinical biomechanics at the undergraduate level, and instrumentation, signal processing and modelling at the graduate level. Her students contend she brings a superior level of a passion and enthusiasm to all of her courses and displays excellence in her teaching abilities. Evaluations have continuously been exceptional for both her undergrad- and grad-level courses, particularly impressive given the heavy weight on mathematics in the courses that she teaches. One student wrote: “I know I am just one of many students that are indebted to her as a mentor and as a professor and supervisor.”

David Hood
Teaching Award – Established Career

Hood, a Canada Research Chair and director of the Muscle Health Research Centre, has previously been recognized with a Faculty of Graduate Studies Teaching Award and a Faculty of Pure & Applied Science Excellence in Teaching Award. He has now been recognized with a Faculty of Health Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has taught courses in exercise physiology, human physiology – endocrinology, and mitochondria in health and disease. His formal teaching evaluations are consistently “excellent”, often scoring a perfect five out of five.