Queen’s professor recognized with provincial award
February 28, 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged universities in how they educate students, but many faculty members have embraced the change as an opportunity to reimagine traditional learning practices.
Recently, Queen’s professor Maha Othman (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences), who also teaches in the Baccalaureate Nursing program at St. Lawrence College, received the Minister’s Award of Excellence in the Everyday Heroes category for research and innovation, teaching and learning, and professional development of early career researchers.
Dr. Othman was one of only 30 selected from the 675 nominations received by the Minister of Colleges and Universities for the annual award.
“It’s an incredible honour to be recognized at the provincial level,” says Dr. Othman. “I’ve been able to use my expertise as an international medical graduate and a research scientist to support student success and mentorship.”
Teaching and learning
The switch to an online format saw a reduction in learning opportunities for many students, with most labs being highly restricted or running at reduced capacity. To compensate, Dr. Othman created virtual research training positions and accepted six Bachelor of Health Sciences and Life Science students from Queen’s and McGill University.
Students taking part in the virtual training gained valuable skills such as literature searches, systematic reviews, data tabulation and analysis, conference presentations, and writing manuscripts.
Continuing her dedication to student success, Dr. Othman has just launched PeersinPatho, an interdisciplinary virtual collaboration of students at both Queen’s and St. Lawrence College (SLC). The online platform will support virtual learning and student-led tutorials within SLC’s School of Baccalaureate Nursing.
“Due to COVID-19 we were unable to conduct in-person tutorials and I had to innovate and wanted to engage more students,” Dr. Othman says. “Through the peer class mentorship model, I coached upper year students to become class mentors. We must instill confidence in our students and coach them to develop their own learning, think critically, and engage them in all decisions about their learning.”
Research and innovation
Over the past 15 years, Dr. Othman has been a specialist in the area of platelets and bleeding disorders. She studied platelet- adenovirus interactions and developed a theory for Vaccine-Induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia (VITT) — a blood clot following a vaccine. Recently, this work has been in the spotlight for VITT research. The condition has been recognized as a side effect within a subset of individuals following COVID-19 vaccination using AstraZenca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, both of which involve adenovirus-based technology.
Through her training in medicine and research, Dr. Othman is committed to ensuring today’s students are prepared for their careers and are accepted into the Queen’s community.
Professional development of early career researchers
One of the main focuses of the Everyday Hero Award is the development of early career researchers. In receiving the award, Dr. Othman was recognized for creating the Global Research Mentorship Group.
The monthly virtual forum, which is open to national and international trainees, provides professional development and networking opportunities to compensate for professional, research, and social isolation during COVID-19.
Consisting of 25 trainees, the Global Research Mentorship Group brought together research expertise from Canada, UK, Iran, Nigeria, Egypt, and Ethiopia. The new environment offers a virtual space to encourage and facilitate professional development by allowing researchers to connect, support each other, and share research updates.