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2016 Supervisor of the Year a “mana wahine”

Wednesday, 23 November 2016 8:58pm

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The 2016 Supervisor of the Year Anne-Marie Jackson.

The postgraduate students lucky enough to study under Dr Anne-Marie Jackson say she is the “very definition of a mana wahine” – a strong Māori female academic who advocates tirelessly for their space at Otago.

Dr Jackson of the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences was recently named this year’s OUSA Supervisor of the Year at a function at the University Staff Club.

As well as supervising 15 Masters’ and PhD candidates, Dr Jackson co-leads the kaupapa Māori research excellence programme, Te Koronga, which provides academic leadership for scholarly development.

In nominating her for the award, one student said Dr Jackson has “created such a positive and influential space for us as Māori to be Māori and embrace Te Ao Māori through our studies and our lives.”

Another said: “We admire her, we look up to her, we are motivated and inspired by her.”

The awards, which are co-sponsored by OUSA and the University’s Graduate Research School, aim to recognise and celebrate the excellent supervision.

Dean of the Graduate Research School Professor Rachel Spronken-Smith says while this supervision is much appreciated by their students, it often goes unnoticed in the wider University community.

"Graduate research candidates are the lifeblood of a research-intensive university and it is very heartening to see that many Otago supervisors are being nominated by their candidates."

“Graduate research candidates are the lifeblood of a research-intensive university and it is very heartening to see that many Otago supervisors are being nominated by their candidates. Clearly many graduate research candidates are being well served by supervisors at Otago,” Professor Spronken-Smith says.

Dr Jackson was among 140 academics to be nominated for this year’s awards. Winners were named from each of the University’s four Divisions: Dr Jackson for Sciences; Tourism’s Associate Professor Neil Carr for Commerce; Pharmacy’s Dr Allan Gamble for Health Sciences and Geography’s Associate Professor Michelle Thompson-Fawcett for Humanities. There was also an award for the best New Supervisor of the Year, which went to Dr Gamble.

For Dr Jackson, the award is an honour, and recognises the hard work she and Dr Hauiti Hakopa do with their research students in Te Koronga, as well as the communities that they support throughout the country.

She says postgraduate study is a critical time for students to develop as academics – both in terms of craft and in deepening their understanding of who they are as academics and what they hope their future academic contribution will be.

“Postgraduate students are the engine room of any research group, department or centre. They are bright, creative, and eager. Yet they are also sensitive and vulnerable because it’s where they are still becoming scholars.”

She says one of her own supervisors Associate Professor Tania Cassidy gave her some important advice, which has helped guide her practice.

"For me, and especially being a young academic, it’s important that the students know our relationship is based on a student-supervisor relationship, not friend, nor family etc."

“She has been fundamental in my academic development and also in my style. One of her pieces of advice was about professionalism and not blurring the boundaries with your students. For me, and especially being a young academic, it’s important that the students know our relationship is based on a student-supervisor relationship, not friend, nor family etc.”

The best New Supervisor of the Year, Dr Gamble, says he was honoured to receive the award.

Dr Gamble took on his first PhD student in 2014 and, like Dr Jackson, believes postgraduates are the most important asset in research.

“I have an open door policy and also meet with them [my students] once a week to ensure they are on track with their work and remain focused. I am also very interested in their future goals/plans and strive to work with them towards reaching these goals,” Dr Gamble says.

“One of my undergraduate professors used to say this about research: Think outside the box, but always swim between the flags. This is great advice and I encourage my students to be imaginative and inventive with their ideas, but underpinned with fundamental scientific knowledge and techniques.”

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The winners and runners up in this year's OUSA Supervisor of the Year Awards (from left) Dr Jenny Rock (Science Communication), Dr Heather Cunliffe (Pathology), Dr Ben Schonthal (Theology & Religion), Tobias Langlotz (Information Science), Professor Helen Nicholson (Anatomy), Dr Mathew Parackal (Marketing), Dr Anne-Marie Jackson (School of Physical Education, Sport & Exercise Sciences) and her son Charlie, Dr Allan Gamble (Pharmacy) and Associate Professor Neil Carr (Tourism). Absent: Associate Professor Michelle Thompson-Fawcett (Geography), Associate Professor Lisa Ellis (Philosophy) and Dr Aladin Bekhit (Food Science).