Laura Levin, associate professor of theatre in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design at York University, was recognized with the Postdoctoral Supervisor of the Year Award from the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS). The award honours professors who demonstrate exemplary support for postdoctoral scholars at York University, exceeding general supervisory expectations.
She received the award at the Postdoctoral Welcome Reception on Nov. 29, presented by Tom Loebel, dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. The event brings together postdoctoral researchers and their supervisors from across disciplines, coming together in part to recognize the wonderful contributions postdocs make at York.
“The list of career-boosting experiences Dr. Levin has connected me to during my postdoctoral fellowship is impressive,” said Alana Gerecke, a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow who nominated Levin, in a written statement. “Ranging from co-editing an issue of a major publication in our field, to co-facilitating a panel at our scholarly association’s annual conference, to co-curating a speaker series, to co-organizing a workshop, to guest teaching in her classes, to guiding me through the navigation of my first book contract, collaborating with Dr. Levin has broadened my professional network, pushed my research content and enriched my professional skill base.”
Levin’s research and teaching focus is on contemporary theatre and performance art; performing gender and sexuality; site-specific and immersive performance; performance and urban space; digital and intermedial performance; and disciplinary genealogies in performance. In July 2018, she was appointed director of Sensorium, a research centre for creative inquiry and experimentation at the intersection of the media arts, performance and digital culture.
Upon receiving the award, Levin spoke about the importance of synergy between a prospective postdoctoral scholar’s research and that of their proposed supervisor, as well as the intersection this has, not only on grant applications, but on cultivating collaboration and co-operation.
“I’ve come to really appreciate how synergy – both as an idea articulated in a grant application, and more significantly as a set of shared activities and commitments performed over time – also allows us to think about what postdoc-supervisor relationships can be at their best,” she said.
Expanding on this relationship further, she noted, “It’s important to consider how mentorship might be imagined in more lateral ways – to insist that postdocs are treated as sources of wisdom and experience. They come to York with unique skill sets and different local, cultural and institutional knowledges that faculty members urgently need to learn…. In making space for postdocs to share what they know – not only through devising collaborative projects, but also by setting up occasions for postdocs to share their research – supervisors stretch themselves as researchers while, more importantly, developing their supervisees’ confidence in their voices as emerging research leaders.”
The Postdoctoral Supervisor of the Year Award recognizes professors who: serve as role models for intellectual leadership and professionalism in research; provide an exemplary environment of support for professional skill development in research; promote and model a climate of respect and collegiality; and offer advocacy and guidance in long-term personal, professional and career development. More information is available at gradstudies.yorku.ca/postdoctoral-fellows/supervisor-award.