Professors honoured for work with graduate students
Charles Beach (Economics) and Virginia Walker (Biology) are the winners of the 2011 Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision.
The award is presented by the School of Graduate Studies in recognition of a superb account of achievements as a researcher and mentor to current and past graduate students.
“I was quite surprised about that,” Dr. Beach says of the award. “I didn’t even know I was in the running.”
Dr. Beach has been a professor in the Department of Economics for almost 40 years, and will retire in 2012. Lining the top shelf of a bookcase in his office are dozens of bound PhD and masters theses, all of them written by students he supervised. He estimates he’s supervised 50 PhD, 70 masters and 30 undergraduate students throughout the years.
“That’s probably the thing I’m most proud of in my office, and in my career,” he says. “If the student has any kind of useful ideas, and I’m not sure I’ve ever met a Queen’s student who doesn’t, helping those students work out and prove those ideas is incredibly rewarding.”
Dr. Walker, who has taught at Queen’s for 30 years, also had no idea her current and former students had nominated her for the award. She says one of the most rewarding aspects of graduate supervision is building relationships with her students that last years after they graduate.
“It’s nice that I’ve been able to stay friends with my former students,” says Dr. Walker, who stayed with a former student in Winnipeg last winter after getting stuck in a snowstorm while driving across Canada.
“The goal, really, is to make things fun,” she says of working with graduate students. “You have to be nurturing and reinforcing, and try never to be negative. I always tell my students, ‘You have to be better than me.’ Otherwise, there’s going to be no progress in science.”
Drs. Beach and Walker will receive their awards at this year’s fall convocation ceremonies.
For more information about the award visit the School of Graduate Studies website.