Psychology Professor Joel Katz awarded for outstanding mentorship

Joel Katz, professor of psychology and Canada Research Chair in Health Psychology at York University, will receive an award for his work in the mentorship and training of future pain researchers.

Joel Katz (image: Fern Kachuck)
Joel Katz (image: Fern Kachuck)

The 2016 Outstanding Pain Mentorship Award will be presented to Katz at the annual Canadian Pain Society conference, where he will receive $1,000 and a plaque. The award also includes a ticket to the conference.

The nomination came from three people who have had “exceptional mentorship experiences” with Katz – Hance Clarke, Samantha Fashler and Kathryn Curtis. Additionally, the letter was endorsed and signed by five students.

The letter describes Katz as deeply committed to mentorship to both students and colleagues across many settings, including research, clinical and community involvement.

“Joel has a unique ability to see the seed of excellence in each of his students, of which he currently has 15, and is dedicated to their development, thus enabling each student to be independent, active, proficient and contributing members of the field of pain research,” reads the nomination. “At the same time, with superb interpersonal and communication skills, Joel is supportive of his students’ interests, encouraging self-reflection of career and personal goals, and limitless support to attain these goals.”

In addition to serving York University, Katz is also a professor at the University of Toronto. His contributions to the field of pain research and related fields include more than 230 peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters, 215 addresses and presentations, and close to 300 abstracts/conference proceedings. Katz has also held major national funding for more than 25 years for this work.

He is considered a leading world expert on acute and chronic post-surgical pain, specifically regarding the factors that predispose patients to the development of moderate to severe acute and chronic post-surgical pain. He also contributes significantly to the understanding of the impact of psychosocial factors on the development of chronic pain.

Rebecca Pillai Riddell
Rebecca Pillai Riddell

“Joel was very generous with his time and mentorship of me when I was still a junior graduate student on the other side of the country,” said Rebecca Pillai Riddell, York Research Chair in Pain & Mental Health and associate professor, psychology, at York University. “In fact, his kindness as a mentor, and his world-renowned program of pain research, factored strongly into my enthusiasm for taking up a position at York.”

Pillai Riddell says when she first came to York as a faculty member, he offered important advice about how to conduct hospital-based research with a university-based lab. He sets “professional and personal standards that trainees look up to,” she said.

Katz said he is thrilled with the news of this award.

“Everyone has been congratulating me, but it’s actually my students who should be getting the ‘All-Time Best Students Award,’ ” he said. “I have the best and brightest students who make being a supervisor very easy, and who make me look good. So my hat goes off to them for writing such an amazing letter that convinced the CPS Awards Committee to choose me.”

By Ashley Goodfellow Craig, YFile deputy editor