York University Professor Dawn Bazely, Department of Biology, was among 30 recipients of the Minister of Colleges and Universities’ Awards of Excellence.
The awards, which were launched in 2020, recognize the leading work of Ontario’s faculty and staff during the pandemic. More than 675 nominations were received.
Bazely is a professor in the Department of Biology in the Faculty of Science and the former director of the Institute for Research in Innovation in Sustainability at York University. In 2015, Bazely was accorded the title of University Professor by York in recognition of her leadership in research, teaching and service to the institution.
A field biologist and accomplished science communicator, she is the recipient of the Minister’s Award of Excellence in the Future Proofing category, which recognizes faculty and staff who are leading the way in adapting programming that supports new ways of learning for Ontario students.
Her nomination for the Minister’s Award of Excellence recognizes her work in “future proofing” students enrolled in her Applied Plant Ecology course and students working in her research lab. Her future-proofing activities began in January 2020. Drawing on her expertise in science communication, policy and citizen science, she incorporated media coverage of the emerging threat of the SARS-CoV2 virus and other zoonotic diseases into her teaching in relation to biodiversity loss. In February 2020, she began preparing all students to end their term through online synchronous classes and meetings. Recognizing the dilemma of international students in the face of a pandemic and the impending travel restrictions, Bazely also worked to support them to either return to their home countries or seek accommodation on York’s Keele Campus.
Her tremendous foresight into the impending pandemic restrictions propelled Bazley to also act as to future proof students enrolled in the Ontario Universities Program in Field Biology (OUPFB) involving 17 partner institutions. Through her role as the York University representative on the OUPFB (which encompassed 30 shared courses that were eventually cancelled due to the pandemic), Bazely designed an online field course, Biodiversity & Watershed Management, to meet the summer field course requirement for 40 students so they could complete their degrees. The course was one of only two courses to run early in the pandemic, with no other Canadian University launching a virtual field course.
In 2021, Bazely continued her activities and actively mentored international professors on transitioning laboratories online. She also expanded the virtual field course to five Ontario universities, to ensure that students could meet their field course requirements virtually and inexpensively. Ethics-approved surveys on Bazely’s field courses found that much of the pandemic student learning mirrored the in-person field course experience.
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