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Faculty members honoured for excellence in graduate student supervision

Samantha King and Stéphane Courteau are being recognized for their mentorship by the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs.

Excellence in academic supervision is a hallmark of the Queen’s graduate student experience. Productive supervisory relationships promote a thriving university research culture where students are supported to make meaningful contributions to their field of specialization and address pressing challenges facing our communities and society.

The School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs annually recognizes two leading graduate supervisors with the Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Supervision. The 2021 recipients are Samantha King (Kinesiology and Health Studies) and Stéphane Courteau (Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy).

“We are humbled by the caliber of nominations we receive each year recognizing faculty members who exemplify the highest standards of graduate supervision at Queen’s,” says Fahim Quadir, Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs. “The School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs congratulates all nominees for their exceptional commitment to leadership and mentorship, and for their continued contributions to enriching the academic experience of our graduate student community”

Learn more about this year’s recipients:

Samantha King

Samantha KingA professor of Kinesiology and Health Studies where she works on the politics of bodies, health, and sport, Dr. King has supervised 19 master’s students and 14 PhD students since 2003. The research projects completed by these graduate students traverse a diverse range of topics within the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Gender Studies and Cultural Studies, yet share the pursuit of more equitable, inclusive, and accessible conceptions of health, sport, and the body. In addition to working with her own students, Dr. King has served on the committee of a large number of Master’s and PhD students at Queen’s and other institutions.

Dr. King is deeply committed to helping her students succeed, improve, and thrive as researchers, teachers, and, more importantly, as responsible global citizens. She is highly regarded by her peers as an eminent scholar in sport, health and illness, and social movements. Through her advanced program of research, she creates a thriving environment for graduate learning, where her students are able to work collaboratively on scholarly research with social impact. In addition to consistently providing a supportive context for learning, she ensures each student's needs are met and attends to their personal growth trajectories. Students repeatedly comment on her personalized attention to their professional and personal interests, needs, and aspirations.

Many of her students have praised her ability to remain a compassionate and caring supervisor in addition to challenging them academically, often guiding them through difficult times outside of the academic arena. Dr. King values her students outside of their research and works to ensure her students feel fully supported, believing that this has a fundamental impact on their success. 

Stéphane Courteau

With large numerical simulations and the biggest telescopes in the world, Stéphane Courteau, a professor in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy, and his students study the structure of galaxies, the distribution of visible and dark matter in the universe, and develop original tests to elucidate fundamental theoretical and/or empirical puzzles in extragalactic astronomy. He has supervised nine PhD and 25 Master’s students – many of whom have secured permanent positions at major institutions across North America. His very first PhD student won the Plaskett Medal for the most outstanding doctoral thesis in astronomy or astrophysics in 2005. As the Queen's Observatory director since 2009, Dr. Courteau has also mentored numerous observatory coordinators, many of whom have gone on to rewarding careers in science outreach in Canada.

Dr. Courteau's dedication and care for his students, before and after graduation, are well established. His individual mentorship style, fostering a sense of family with all of his students, and research projects tailored to each student, are key to their success. In addition to sharing his passion for astrophysics, science, and discovery, he insists on comprehensive professional development, exposure to scientists in other research centers and the pursuit of intellectual opportunities around the world, creative thinking, and acquiring a global vision for post-graduation success. Through the Astronomy Seminars and Journals Club series, which he has led since his arrival at Queen's in 2004, he encourages graduate students to think about the “big picture'” and the importance of their research relative to the field. Overall, Dr. Courteau has devoted his career to advancing graduate education, providing unique and exciting opportunities for graduate students at Queen's and those across Canada, and, most importantly, advancing the careers of his students.

Drs. King and Courteau will be recognized and presented their award at the 2022 University-wide Teaching Awards Celebration in the fall.

About The Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Supervision

The Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Supervision recognizes supervisors who demonstrate outstanding excellence in advising, monitoring, and mentoring graduate students. Excellence is judged on the quality of supervision and mentorship in facilitating the acquisition of skills and resources needed for students to succeed as scholars and professionals. The criteria for the award reflect supervisors who inspire students to push scholarly boundaries, pursue their career and academic goals, offer quality feedback and guidance, and support broadly a culture of supervisory excellence within their school/faculty and/or university. Preference is given to faculty members who have displayed sustained mentorship activity over many years.

Nominations sought

The SGSPA is currently accepting nominations for the 2022 Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Supervision, deadline to submit packages is Wednesday, Aug. 31. For more information about eligibility and the application process, visit the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs website.