Dr. Chris Furgal, an associate professor of Indigenous Studies and Environmental Studies at Trent University, has received the 2015 Mentor Award from the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) and ArcticNet Students Association.
"It was a huge honour to receive the award and be recognized for an aspect of my work in the North that I truly love – working with and learning with and from my students and other young researchers," said Professor Furgal. "I have been very privileged to have some great mentors during my undergraduate and graduate degrees and early stages of my career both at the University and in the Inuit communities and regions in the North with whom I work. I really just try to emulate the great example they have set for me in providing support, encouragement, guidance and access to opportunities to students and other young researchers so that they may create their own success."
The award recognizes the time and energy that mentors dedicate to early career researchers working in the North, as well as their efforts in building a supportive community. Prof. Furgal, who is also the director of the Health, Environment and Indigenous Communities Research Group (HEIC) at Trent, accepted the award at the ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting in Vancouver.
Prof. Furgal was one of six nominees for the award. He was nominated by members of Trent's HEIC research group, with letters of support provided by colleagues and community leaders across Canada. The mentor award review committee noted that Prof. Furgal’s nomination stood out among the six submissions, which were all of excellent quality.
Shirin Nuesslein, a research assistant and administrative coordinator of the HEIC group who helped spearhead the nomination said, "What makes Chris an incredible mentor to me is that he approaches everything he does through the lens of capacity building. He has a special perception for seeing the potential in individuals and the ability to gently guide us towards it with trust and encouragement and at a pace commensurate to our capacity."
"Our professors get a lot of professional recognition for their research and academic work, but often the work they do behind the scenes goes unnoticed," added Kristeen McTavish, a graduate student in the Sustainability Studies program and member of the HEIC group. "Chris works tirelessly as a mentor for all of his students and his colleagues and it was important for us to have that officially recognized."
Dr. Furgal's gift was a book, presented by the HEIC group, filled with photos and personal messages from more than 50 people across Canada who supported his nomination. "It's up to the nominators to choose a gift and we thought such a book would be the most meaningful to give to him," Ms. Nuesslein explained. "It's a very unique collection of memos and photos from a wide range of people including both mentees and mentors of Prof. Furgal.