By Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer
An expert in chemical biology, an accomplished poet and scholar, and a promising historian will join Queen’s faculty as the first winners of the reinstated Queen’s National Scholar (QNS) program. Professors Avena Ross, Armand Ruffo, and Awet Weldemichael will take up their positions at Queen’s this summer.
“The exceptional faculty who teach, mentor and inspire our students are the foundation of the learning experience at Queen’s. The QNS program aims to bring emerging leaders to Queen’s in order to strengthen and renew that foundation,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “Each of these remarkable individuals has demonstrated the capacity for innovative research and the potential to be transformative teachers, and I am delighted they have chosen to continue their careers at Queen’s.”
The appointments come after a competitive review process for QNS positions and a broad search for exceptional candidates. While only two QNS positions would normally be awarded in each annual competition cycle, the QNS advisory committee was impressed by the high quality of these submissions and felt that all three should be selected.
Avena Ross, Queen’s National Scholar in chemical biology and medicinal chemistry, is a promising researcher in the area of peptide biosynthesis. She received her PhD at the University of Alberta and comes to Queen’s from the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine at the University of California, San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Armand Garnet Ruffo, Queen’s National Scholar in Indigenous literatures and languages, is a poet, playwright, writer and scholar of international stature. Professor Ruffo is the author of an award winning poetry collection, a play and a feature film, as well as other works of creative non-fiction and scholarly publications in the area of Aboriginal cultures and literatures. He comes to Queen’s from Carleton University.
Awet Weldemichael, Queen’s National Scholar in African history, was born in the east African country of Eritrea and grew up in a Sudanese refugee camp. He received his PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles and is the author of the acclaimed book Third World Colonialism and Strategies of Liberation: Eritrea and East Timor Compared. He comes to Queen’s from the University of Kentucky.
The QNS program was first established in 1985, with the objective to “enrich teaching and research in newly developing fields of knowledge as well as traditional disciplines.” Since then, over 100 QNS appointments have been made in a wide variety of disciplines, and the appellation of Queen’s National Scholar has become synonymous with academic excellence. Recently reinstated, the program will fund 10 new QNS positions when fully implemented, providing each with $100,000 annually for five years.
In addition to these three winners from the first year of the program, four QNS proposals from the program’s second year have advanced to the second stage.