York Distinguished Research Professor Debra Pepler named an Officer of the Order of Canada

Debra Pepler

Faculty of Health psychology Professor Debra Pepler, an internationally recognized expert who has changed the way we think about bullying, has been named an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Pepler was among five Companions, 38 Officers and 77 Members named to the Order of Canada on Dec. 28, 2019 by the Governor General of Canada Julie Payette (DSc ’10). Her citation states that she is being honoured for her innovative, community-based research on social issues involving children and youth, which has changed the way psychologists study bullying.

Pepler has been a member of the Department of Psychology at York University since 1988. She served as the director of the LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence and Conflict Resolution from 1994 to 2002. Pepler is a registered psychologist in the Province of Ontario and has co-authored four books, dozens of referred journal articles, book chapters, reviews and government reports. In 2008, she was awarded the title of Distinguished Research Professor by York University in recognition of her pioneering research.

“The entire York community extends our enthusiastic congratulations to Professor Pepler for this recognition of her leadership on one of the most important issues facing young people, their families, and our society today,” said President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton. “Her world-leading scholarship on bullying exemplifies the positive impact York University has on the communities we serve through our exceptional teaching, research and creative activities.”

In addition to her scholarly endeavours, Pepler has been a senior associate scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children since 2001. She has also served on the Ontario Minister of Education’s Safe Schools Action Team since 2004 and on several other advisory committees related to parenting, antisocial behaviour and school violence.

As part of her extensive research accomplishments, Pepler was awarded a Network of Centres of Excellence: New Initiatives grant to establish PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network) with Queen’s University psychology Professor Wendy Craig (MA ’89, PhD ’93), who was Pepler’s first PhD student at York University. PREVNet is a collaborative and interdisciplinary initiative that brings together 62 researchers from 27 Canadian universities and 49 national organizations.

Pepler has conducted two major research programs on children at risk within the context of peer relationships at school and in context of the family. To study aggression and bullying, she developed an innovative methodology to observe children’s interactions, which would normally be hidden from adults. Pepler was honoured for this research with the Contribution to Knowledge Award from the Psychology Foundation of Canada, the Educator of the Year Award from Phi Delta Kappa (Toronto), the University of Waterloo Arts in Academia Award and the Canadian Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Contributions to Public or Community Service. She is also the recipient of the 2015 Donald O. Hebb Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology as a Science from the Canadian Psychological Association.

To learn more about Pepler’s research, read this 2016 YFile article.

Members of the Order of Canada with connections to York University also named

Four other individuals affiliated with York University were also appointed as members of the Order of Canada. They are broadcaster Hana Gartner (MA ’17), author Katherine Govier (MA ’72), social justice advocate and politician Cheri DiNovo (BA ’94), and philanthropist and former York University Board of Governors member John Hunkin (LL.D [Hons.] ’04, MBA ’69).