U of S professor recognized for his mentoring
- EFN Staff | October 28, 2018
A University of Saskatchewan professor has earned an award for student mentorship. U of S environmental scientist Colin Laroque has been recognized with an international award for his dedication to providing innovative and high-quality research experiences for undergraduate students.
The Council on Undergraduate Research has selected Laroque as its 2018 Geosciences Undergraduate Research Mentor, an honour that recognizes an individual who is a role model for impactful and transformative student-faculty mentoring relationships, and who maintains a sustained and innovative approach to undergraduate research. The award will be formally presented at the Geological Society of America meeting in Indianapolis on Nov. 6th.
“Colin’s excellence in collaboration and interdisciplinary teaching and mentorship, particularly in the area of sustainability, provides an exceptional undergraduate student experience,” said Dean of the College of Agriculture and Bioresources Mary Buhr in a media release. “His students are empowered to make changes happen, and with his leadership they bring sustainability into action.”
Laroque, professor in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources and the School of Environment and Sustainability, is also director of the Mistik Askiwin Dendrochronology Laboratory (MAD Lab) which conducts tree ring-related research to understand past climates, past glacier activity and extent, past ecosystem dynamics, and even past human activities.
He received a Bachelor of Science degree from U of S and obtained his master’s and PhD at the University of Victoria and has taught for 10 years at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick before returning to teach at the U of S in 2014.
In his nomination, his students talked about the substantial impact of his mentoring on their education and lives and said that he “goes out of his way to give students ownership over their own learning.”
His innovative mentoring includes a program he began three years ago to train first-year students to become users of the Canadian Light Source synchrotron at the U of S to conduct their own research.
Laroque champions original research as being essential to the student learning experience. He credits his extended Métis family for modelling for him the use of experiential instruction to pass on environmental knowledge gleaned over the generations, and said he uses the same approach to teach his students.
“Metaphorically, I ask my students to walk behind me and see the environment the way I see the environment,” said Laroque. “I help them explore all of the strange new worlds in environmental science. Once they are hooked on learning something of interest to them, their own enthusiasm carries them wherever they choose to walk in their future.”
An estimation of 100 students that Laroque has mentored throughout his career from a wide array of disciplines including agriculture, education, engineering and archaeology.
“I am surprised and flattered that the university would even think to nominate me, given some of the other wonderful people who conduct science teaching on this campus,” he said.