Oct. 22, 2020

Killam mentorship awards presented to outstanding leaders

Fabiola Aparicio-Ting and Adam Kirton recognized for work with students

Formal and informal mentoring opportunities are instrumental to undergraduate and graduate students, and two UCalgary leaders have been recognized by the Killam Trusts for their outstanding dedication to mentorship.

“Great mentors make for a good student experience,” says Dr. Leslie Reid, vice-provost (teaching and learning). “The mentors recognized with the Killam awards put their students' needs and learning objectives first. It's important we recognize these individuals.” 

  • Pictured above: Fabiola Aparicio-Ting, left, and Adam Kirton.

The Killam Undergraduate Mentorship Award recognizes excellence in mentorship at the undergraduate level, which may include extensive involvement of undergraduates in research, supervision of undergraduate research projects, and pedagogical practices that promote the integration of teaching and research. 

The Killam Graduate Supervision and Mentorship Award is presented to an individual who has a record of excellence in the supervision and mentorship of master's and/or PhD students at the University of Calgary.

The 2020 recipients are:

Killam Award in Undergraduate Mentorship

Dr. Fabiola Aparicio-Ting, PhD, Cumming School of Medicine (CSM), senior instructor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Director Health and Society, BHSc program and member of the CSM’s O’Brien Institute for Public Health

Aparicio-Ting’s research interests are in the social epidemiology of health inequities and behaviours. However, she's shifted much of her research to a program of scholarship of teaching and learning with a focus on applied educational research in health science education, curriculum development and evaluation, critical thinking and interdisciplinary course development. She currently teaches courses focused on the social determinants of health, public health, and epidemiology in the Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHSc) Honours program.

In addition to being involved in curriculum mapping and reviews of the health and society major in the BHSc program, Aparicio-Ting is actively involved in mentoring undergraduate students. More than 70 health and society students are in the program, and she regularly meets with students to discuss research areas of interest and how to identify potential supervisors. She also sometimes supports students in approaching research faculty.

Her overarching mentorship philosophy puts students’ needs and learning at the forefront and she believes it's important to mentor and support students in discovering and developing their own interests. She uses a collaborative approach to mentor students to direct their own learning by being co-creators of their projects.

Taking a student-centred, individualized approach, Aparicio-Ting identifies each student’s interests, experience and learning goals to provide a research experience in a supportive environment that also encourages students to take on new challenges. The result is a research experience that is engaging and aligned with the skills needed for students to fulfill their aspirations.

Killam Graduate Supervision and Mentorship Award

Dr. Adam Kirton, MD, Cumming School of Medicine (CSM), professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Clinical Neurosciences, member of the CSM’s Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute and Hotchkiss Brain Institute

Kirton is a paediatric neurologist and brain researcher. He's successfully mentored students across diverse fields, predominantly in neuroscience but also in psychology, community health sciences, kinesiology, biomedical engineering and computer science. Kirton’s impact as a supervisor and mentor lies in the remarkable accomplishments of his trainees.

Many of his trainees have gone on to enter medical school and win highly prestigious awards. Examples from the last two years include two Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Banting and Best Canada Graduate Scholarships, two CIHR Brainstar Awards, a CIHR Postdoctoral Fellowship, and three Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships.

Kirton’s ability to provide exceptional graduate training begins with the rich research environment he creates within his lab. Students are encouraged to learn from diverse experts ranging from clinicians to neuroscientists to biomedical engineers to patients and families. Program structure is all about the team where everyone learns from, supports, and engages with each other via team meetings, collaborations, skill sharing, lab exchanges, and volunteering. Teaching and mentorship is emphasized across the spectrum with each trainee given opportunities to facilitate the development of those less experienced.