The Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) honoured Professor Rebecca Pillai Riddell with the Faculty’s Teaching Award for her achievements in graduate teaching and supervisory excellence. Pillai Riddell received her award remotely at the Faculty Council on March 1 – she is currently a Visiting Professor at University College London.
Pillai Riddell, a professor in the Graduate Program in Psychology, is the York Research Chair in Pain and Mental Health and Director of the Opportunities to Understand Childhood Hurt (OUCH) Laboratory. On Dec. 1 of 2017, she was named Associate Vice-President Research in the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation (VPRI).
“FGS is proud to recognize the academic achievements of our community, and today we are celebrating a colleague that embodies excellence in graduate teaching and research,” said Fahim Quadir, interim dean of FGS.
“Rebecca’s extraordinary work as a teacher, as a supervisor, and as a mentor, as well as her passionate commitment to her research on pain and developmental psychology make her an exemplary member of the graduate community here at York University,” said Vice-Provost Academic Alice Pitt, who presented the award. “The many current and former students who wrote in support of Rebecca’s nomination consistently noted her reputation as a generous, available, and knowledgeable mentor who encourages emerging scholars to succeed and to surpass their academic and professional potential.”
Former students noted in their nominations the transformative influence she has had on their careers and attributed many of their academic successes to her outstanding mentorship.
Pillai Riddell has contributed to more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and invited contributions. A passionate research teacher, she has been primary supervisor of 13 doctoral and postdoctoral scholars and 37 honours thesis students. All six of her current students have held Canada Graduate Scholarships, including her most recent doctoral graduate who was selected as York University’s 2017 Governor General’s Gold Medal recipient.
Her current research program has also been supported by all three federal research councils (the Canadian Institutes of Health Research [CIHR], the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council [NSERC], and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada [SSHRC]), alongside a Canada Foundation for Innovation grant.
“The separation of research and teaching has never been separated for me,” said Pillai Riddell over video conferencing. “My research informs my teaching, and I’d like to thank everyone for acknowledging this and for this opportunity.”
The FGS Teaching Award is awarded annually to a member of the Faculty of Graduate Studies who has displayed substantial, significant and sustained excellence, commitment and enthusiasm to the multifaceted aspects of teaching at the graduate level at York University.