Supervision Award for Faculty

The JJ Berry Smith Doctoral Supervision Award recognizes outstanding performance in the multiple roles associated with doctoral (PhD, EdD, DMA, SJD) supervision. Two awards are offered annually: one in the Humanities and Social Sciences and one in the Physical and Life Sciences.

The awards are presented at the Governor General's Medal reception ceremony in the spring. Recipients receive a JJ Berry Smith Doctoral Supervision Award certificate, an SGS Travel or Conference Award to grant a current doctoral student to support conference participation or research travel, and have their name inscribed on a plaque housed at the School of Graduate Studies.

The annual JJ Berry Smith Supervision Award honours active faculty members who, over a minimum of a 15-year period, have demonstrated excellence in supervision at the University of Toronto by:

  • inspiring and guiding students to reach excellence in scholarship;

  • providing an environment that is supportive and stimulating;

  • enabling students to learn the essential methodologies, concepts and cultures of their discipline;

  • introducing students to the wider content of the discipline and relevant communities of scholars;

  • positioning students for future careers both within and outside academe;

  • fostering a strong sense of academic integrity.

The 2019 Winners

Dr. Arthur Ripstein and Dr. Tania Watts are this year's recipients of the JJ Berry Smith Doctoral Supervision Award, which recognizes outstanding performance in the multiple roles associated with doctoral (PhD, EdD, DMA, SJD) supervision.

Prof. Arthur Watts

Dr. Arthur Ripstein, Department of Philosophy:
A Professor of Law and Philosophy at the University of Toronto, Dr. Ripstein has a broad, interdisciplinary knowledge base that enables him to mentor students with a range of scholarly interests. Since 1988, he has supervised an unprecedented number of doctoral students (19 to date) while fulfilling extensive administrative duties and public commitments. His dual talents as a teacher and researcher were recognized with a 2012 University of Toronto Alumni Association Faculty Award. Called "a role model for all academics" by one former graduate student, he provides students with the means to find their own conclusions, and strongly supports their professional development both during and after their graduate studies.

Prof. Tania Watts

Dr. Tania Watts, Department of Immunology:
Dr. Watts currently holds the Sanofi Pasteur Chair in Human Immunology at U of T and is director of the Toronto Human Immunology Network. She also directs the Faculty of Medicine Flow cytometry facility. Dr. Watts has trained 17 post-docs, 22 PhD students, 6 MSc students and 30 undergraduate students have done their research in her lab. Students of Dr. Watts speak enthusiastically about her fundamental belief that "science is supposed to be fun and that risk-taking, deep thinking and hard work are at the root of all scientific discovery." She provides her students with guidance and opportunity, knowing that there are multiple paths to a fulfilling career.

Read about the recipients from previous years below.

Award Overview


Date set locally by graduate unit/Faculty

Faculty Nomination to SGS:

April 1, 2019

Results & Presentation of Award:

May 22, 2019

Eligibility Criteria

The awards will be offered annually to active faculty members who, over a minimum 15-year period, have demonstrated excellence in supervision at the University of Toronto as indicated by:

  1. Inspiring and guiding students to achieve excellence & integrity in scholarship;

  2. Providing a supportive environment that stimulates creativity, debate, engagement, dialogue and progression toward timely completion;

  3. Enabling students to learn the essential methodologies, concepts, and cultures of their discipline;

  4. Introducing students to the wider content of the discipline and relevant communities of scholars; and

  5. Positioning students for future careers both within and outside academe.

In an effort to assist Faculties in reviewing their nominations, a JJ Berry Smith Award Scoring Sheet is provided for Faculties' internal committee use. ​

At the discretion of the (Faculty) Dean, nominations of unsuccessful candidates are eligible to be resubmitted for consideration a second time in the year following their initial nomination. After this, the Dean must wait at least two years to resubmit.

Nomination Package

The nomination package provides evidence that the nominee has met the above six criteria as demonstrated through:

  • The nomination form.

  • Faculty letter of recommendation from the Dean/Vice-Dean, Graduate Education (1-2 pages).

  • ​Two letters of nomination (letters may be from an individual or group):

    1. A letter from the department chair or a current or former colleague(s);

    2. A letter from former or current supervisee(s) - group nomination encouraged;

  • ​​​Short biography of candidate (max 200 words - suitable for public release);

  • A statement written by the candidate​ (max 300 words - suitable for public release):

    1. Addressing their graduate teaching/supervision philosophy, and

    2. Describing the candidate's personal approach to teaching/supervision;

  • ​​​​​​​

    Up to date Curriculum Vitae (limit publications to past 15 years). 

    • All co-publications/presentations with current and former doctoral students (if applicable) must be clearly identified (e.g. highlighted in yellow or underlined).

    • A description of the role or contribution of the nominee in co-publications should be provided.

    • ​A brief explanation is to be provided if co-publications with students and/or colleagues are not the norm in the nominee’s discipline; and

  • ​​

    Updated: Tab​le A​ listing all current and former doctoral students and their current positions (Note: to download an editable version of this spreadsheet, please enter the SGS website Faculty & Staff portal credentials. If you experience difficulty accessing this file, please contact Fong Di Caterina​.​) 

Nomination Process

Faculty nominations are due to the Dean of Graduate Studies and Vice-Provost, Graduate Education through the Faculty Dean or Vice-Dean, Graduate Education.

Students, faculty members, and staff wishing to submit a nomination package for consideration by their Faculty should contact their home graduate unit to inquire about the selection process and local deadlines.

NEW: Faculties may forward one nomination for faculty members from each of the four divisions (Humanities, Social Sciences, Physical Science, Life Science).  Requests for an additional quota may be considered where a Faculty has two exceptional candidates from within the same discipline. 

Each nomination package is to be submitted electronically as a single PDF file via email. Please retain the original application materials until May 22, 2019.

Nominations are due to SGS from Faculties by April 1, 2019 to:

Dean of Graduate Studies and Vice-Provost, Graduate Education
c/o Graduate Awards Office
School of Graduate Studies
Tel: 416-978- 2150

Previous Recipients

The 2018 Winners

Dr. Susan Pfeiffer, Department of Anthropology, and Dr. Ori Rotstein, Institute of Medical Science are this year's recipients of the JJ Berry Smith Doctoral Supervision Award, which recognizes outstanding performance in the multiple roles associated with doctoral (PhD, EdD, DMA, SJD) supervision.

Prof. Susan Pfeiffer

Dr. Susan Pfeiffer has taught in U of T's Anthropology Department since 1999. During that time, she has supervised 12 PhD and 21 Master's students. A "strong advocate for graduate students," Susan has been praised for being an academic "known for her integrity" whose own work with human remains and the sensitive intersections between history and identity affirm "her commitment to the interwoven concerns of both science and humanism."

In the words of twelve former students, "Susan has had a profound impact on her advisees by fostering a strong, collaborative, and challenging academic community; setting high standards and pushing [her students] to address important questions; and demonstrating impeccable ethics in a field fraught with political implications." Read more.

Prof. Ori Rotstein

 Dr. Rotstein became a graduate faculty member in the Institute of Medical Science in 1986. Since then, he has trained a total of 24 graduate students for MSc and PhD degrees. He leads what Dr. Mingyao Liu, current Director of U of T's Institute of Medical Science, describes as "a distinguished double career as a surgeon scientist and as a graduate educator." In addition to serving as mentors to trainees, faculty, and staff at IMS, he is Surgeon-in-Chief at St. Michael's Hospital.

According to former students, Dr. Rotstein has been a source of inspiration throughout their training and in their present careers: "Ori's supervision of our graduate studies took each of us from a state of undifferentiated uncertainty about our interest in academic surgery to a state of passionate and life-long engagement in scientific investigation with labs and graduate students of our own."

The 2017 Winners

Dr. Mark Lautens, Department of Chemistry and Dr. Judith WienerDepartment of Applied Psychology & Human Development (OISE) are this year's recipients of the JJ Berry Smith Doctoral Supervision Award, which recognizes outstanding performance in the multiple roles associated with doctoral (PhD, EdD, DMA, SJD) supervision.

Prof. Mark Lautens

During his 30-year career at U of T, Dr. Mark Lautens has supervised 51 doctoral students (48 complete and 3 in progress), who have in turn received prestigious awards, have cumulatively authored over 200 papers in high-impact journals, and are highly ranked in their fields, with impressive careers at top universities across the world and in the private sector.

Dr. Lautens creates an environment in which his students can "take control of their research [and] feel the excitement of making their own discoveries." He treats his graduate students with tremendous respect and gives them the confidence to pursue their own ideas, cultivating their intellectual growth as scientists.

He ensures that his students receive numerous opportunities to enhance their professional development. For example, he is a founding member of a regional conference (the Quebec Ontario Minisymposium in Bioorganic and Synthetic Chemistry) that gives graduate students the chance to present their research. He also enlists students to draft grant applications and scientific presentations, providing them with a depth of experience that many students do not receive during their graduate programs.

Overwhelmingly, his former students speak of feeling valued and supported: "Mark cares deeply about his students and ensures that the 4-5 years spent in his lab mean more than simply generating experimental results and obtaining a PhD degree. He made it clear from an early stage that his students were his first priority, and his actions have always supported that statement. He taught and encouraged us to be independent in our research while still being there when needed. To this day, he continues to provide support when needed and constantly encourages us to challenge ourselves and never accept less than our best."  Read more about Dr. Mark Lautens.

Prof. Judith Wiener

Often referred to as a "gold standard" for doctoral supervision in her Department and within OISE, Dr. Judith Wiener is also the recipient of the prestigious 2016-17 David E. Hunt Award for Excellence in Graduate Education. She has supervised 30 doctoral students to completion and is currently supervising six more in progress.

Ten of Dr. Wiener's current and former students contributed to a letter of support nominating her for this award. To quote one of them: "Dr. Wiener was always one step ahead of me, ready to provide me with the perfect balance of support and gentle pressure that I needed to keep my research moving forward."

Dr. Wiener has co-published at least one paper in a refereed journal with 25 of her supervisees, and encourages them to do poster and paper presentations at conferences. She regularly leads a research group that discusses key research literature and methodologies and hears student presentations of their research proposals and results of their studies. She spearheaded the accreditation of OISE's School and Clinical Child Psychology (SCCP) Program both by the American Psychological Association and by the Canadian Psychological Association, enabling graduate students to have a dynamic community from which to find mentors and gain clinical experience.

Dr. Wiener is retiring on June 30, 2017, and this supervision award is an apt way to acknowledge her many years of tireless work with and for graduate students at the University of Toronto. Read more about Dr. Judith Wiener.

2016 Winners

Prof. Chun Wei Choo

Professor Chun Wei Choo has been a professor at the Faculty of Information​since 1993. His main research interests are information and knowledge management, information seeking, environmental scanning, organizational learning, and the management of information technology.

He has authored and edited several books, and his articles and papers have appeared in publications such as the Annual Review of Information Science and Technology and the International Journal of Information Management. His work has been translated into six languages. He has partnered on research projects with a number of organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, Human Resource Development Canada, The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute, among others.

Prof. Choo has been a mentor and inspiration to many of the Faculty’s doctoral students and junior faculty members and has supervised 14% of the Faculty's PhD graduates since 1993—approximately three times the average. Prof. Choo’s approach has been described by current and former students as “generous, considerate, and supportive,” and they have described him as “instrumental for providing the PhD students of the Faculty of Information with the foundation for a rich experience.”

As one of his former students remarked, Dr. Choo changed my life. His belief in me provided the impetus to expand my horizons. His encouragement allowed me to think beyond the corporate career path I had at that time. He provided me with an opportunity to learn, to grow intellectually, and maximize my skills. He gave me the courage to take a 'leap of faith,' to leave my rote cubicle job, and embark and embrace a life as an academic.”

Prof. David Zingg Professor David Zingg joined the University of Toronto in 1988 and has been the Director of the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies since 2006. His research areas include aerodynamics, computational fluid dynamics, and aerodynamic shape optimization. His current research is concentrated on applying high-fidelity aerodynamic shape optimization to the design of unconventional low-drag aircraft configurations motivated by the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Together with colleagues from NASA, Prof. Zingg is a co-author of two widely used textbooks. He held the Tier I Canada Research Chair in Computational Aerodynamics and Environmentally Friendly Aircraft Design from 2001 to 2015, and has received multiple awards recognizing his research contributions to aerospace engineering. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Prof. Zingg is the founder of the Centre for Research in Sustainable Aviation and serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Green Aviation Research and Development Network.

During his 28-year career at the University of Toronto, Prof. Zingg has supervised 30 PhD students and 52 MASc students. His approach to supervision strikes a balance between guiding students and allowing freedom for personal initiative and independence. He challenges his students with probing questions that reflect not only his natural inquisitiveness, but also his desire for them to grow as scientists. Moreover, he is dedicated to his students' success, taking a proactive role in helping them prepare for their careers and continuing to provide support long after graduation.

In the words of his former students, “By virtue of his scientific curiosity and demand for careful thought and rigour, Prof. Zingg fosters an environment that propels students to develop novel and important scientific contributions. Prof. Zingg is well known for his integrity, his strong work ethic, and his excellent time management skills, and he holds his students to the same high standards. These laudable qualities tend to rub off on his doctoral students, who are some of the most dedicated students at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies.

2015 Winners

Professor Morris Moscovitch holds the Glassman Chair in Neuropsychology and Aging. He came to the University of Toronto in 1971 and has won a number of awards for his research. SGS recognizes his achievements as an excellent teacher and gifted mentor.

Undergraduates know him for teaching the Department of Pyschology’s introductory course on cognitive neuroscience, which he has taught for the past 40 years. Year after year, the course achieves the highest enrolment of any non-required course in the Psychology department, a testament to his ability to make materials come alive.

At the graduate level, Prof. Moscovitch has supervised 43 MAs, 34 PhDs, and 22 postdoctoral fellows–by far the highest in the history of the department. He helped establish a clinical extension to the department’s research program, which continues to produce clinician scientists of the highest calibre. Prof. Moscovitch won the department’s inaugural award for Most Valuable Professor–determined by a vote of the department’s graduate students. In 2005, he was the first man to win the Mentorship Award from Women in Cognitive Science. His students have won prestigious awards for their work done under his supervision and afterwards.

Former students remarked how Prof. Moscovitch “allows each student space to develop his or her own research ideas, always willing to discuss any topic with an openness and curiosity that lies at the very heart of science. Nevertheless, he challenges his students to continually refine and improve their ideas in order to truly advance our understanding of brain- behaviour relations. His gift of translating his insightful clinical observations into rigorous scientific questions is truly inspiring, and he has a unique ability to instill those capacities in his students.”

Professor Michael J. Trebilcock joined the Faculty of Law in 1972 and rapidly became one of its stars. He was selected as a University Professor in 1990. Prof. Trebilcock has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Yale, and NYU law schools as well as at Tsinghua University in Beijing and the National University of Singapore.

He has won numerous awards and accolades within the legal and scholarly communities for his outstanding teaching and supervision of graduate students. In 1986 he won the University of Toronto Teaching Award for his work in what was then the Faculty of Law’s LLB program. In 1989, his book The Common Law of Restraint of Trade was awarded the Owen Prize by the Foundation for Legal Research as the best legal text published in Canada in English between 1986 and 1988.

During his time at the University of Toronto, he has supervised 63 LLM students and 30 SJD candidates. More than half of his SJD supervisees have gained tenure-track positions at world-class universities, while others have landed coveted postdoctoral research positions​ or returned to respected roles in private practice.

Prof. Trebilcock is praised for “effectively developing relationships with his supervisees that combine rigour, respect and support. The results are that his students feel accountable, challenged, and encouraged during the entire time...they are working under Michael’s supervision. Students are inevitably inspired not just by their exposure to a person of such intellectual force and curiosity, but by their sense of immediate inclusion in the academy.

2014 Winners

Professor Eleftherios     Diamandis Professor Eleftherios Diamandis is Head of Clinical Biochemistry at the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology (LMP). His research activities evolve around discovery and validation of cancer biomarkers, proteomics, mass spectrometry, and translational research. In his 27 years at the Department of LMP, he has supervised 38 doctoral students, many of whom have gone on to pursue careers in medicine, academia (University of Athens, University of Tabriz, University of Toronto) as well as outside academia (research associates, scientists, and a vice-president).

Nominators remarked at his ability to know each of his students intuitively and personally touch his students’ lives, allowing not only for growth as a scientist but also for growth as a person. “He believes that graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and other associates in his laboratory should be approached as 'whole human beings,' not just 'pairs of working hands' addition to promoting scientific creativity and excellence, he is also a great advocate of other activities, including sports, music, and artistic productions.”​

Professor Clare KosnikProfessor Clare Kosnik has been a faculty member in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) for 17 years. Her research interests focus on teacher education, action research and teacher inquiry, and literacy education. Prof. Kosnik has written extensively on the subjects of teacher education, self- study, and data collection techniques. She is a member of the Ontario Ministry of Education Literacy Advisory Panel, the chair of the Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices Special Interest Group, and has professional membership in organizations such as the American Educational Research Association and the Canadian Society for the Study of Education. In her 17 years at OISE, she has supervised 20 doctoral students, many of whom hold prestigious positions in academia and various areas of education (Toronto District School Board, Peel Board of Education, University of Toronto School).

Prof. Kosnik is praised for her approach to supervising doctoral students that is built on a commitment to academic integrity and excellence, and creating a strong community of leaders. She is commended for the myriad ways she has shown intellectual leadership and provided academic, professional, and personal support. “She challenges me every week... It is when I talk to other doctoral students that I can truly appreciate the time and effort she gives us, as none of the others appear to receive this kind of attention and guidance...she is the epitome of caring pedagogy.”​

2013 (Inaugural) Winners

Professor Brenda J. Andrews has been a faculty member in the Department of Molecular Genetics since 1990, and is currently the Director of the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular research. Prof. Andrew’s achievements are unparalleled as a scholar in life sciences and as a mentor of young scientists. During her time as a faculty member at the University of Toronto she has supervised 23 doctoral students, many of whom have gone on to careers in academia (University of British Columbia, University of Ottawa, and University of Toronto) as well as outside academia (Senior Research Associates, Lab and Project Managers, Science writers).

Nominators described Prof. Andrews as “an inspiring supervisor and mentor, a role model for all of her students…who has successfully balanced an outstanding career as a research scientist with major academic leadership role”. Former students noted that Prof. Andrews always makes time for her students and is a supervisor whose unique talents include turning “a student’s frustration and scientific exhaustion into a recharged fresh outlook.”

Professor     Clifford Orwin Professor Clifford Orwinhas been a faculty member in the Department of Political Science for almost 40 years. A supervisor whose style of mentorship is often referred to by his students as “tough love,” Prof. Orwin is greatly admired and appreciated for his “exacting standards.” Prof. Orwin has supervised 22 dissertations to completion and is currently serving as supervisor to six doctoral students.

Prof. Orwin was praised for his commitment to the achievements of his students and their career progress as he guides them to positions both within and outside academe. His students have gone on to academic appointments at Western University, University of British Columbia, Yale University, and Emory University; other students have careers outside the academe as writers, attorneys,​ and policy analysts. He was singled out by his nominators for his commitment to his students, noting that he is dedicated to “coaxing the very best work from each student.”

Professor Orwin is interviewed​ for The Bulletin to discuss his methods for graduate supervision and what it means to be a recipient of the JJ Berry Smith Supervision Award.

Recipients receive a JJ Berry Smith Supervisory Award Certificate, their name on a plaque housed at the School of Graduate Studies, as well as a SGS Conference or Travel Grant to be awarded by the recipient to support a current doctoral student.

Contacts & Resources

Fong Di Caterina, Manager, Graduate Awards
School of Graduate Studies
Tel: 416-978-2150

CTSI Resources​

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