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Winners and finalists for OUSA Supervisor of the Year 2023

Winners and finalists of the OUSA Supervisor of the Year awards 2023, are, back row, Dr Nathan Kenny. Middle row, from left, Professor Leigh Hale, Dr Ashraful Alam, Dr Duminda Kuruppuarachchi and Acting Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Health Sciences, Professor Neil Gemmell on behalf of Dr Gert-Jan Jeunen. Front row, from left, Dr Gwynaeth McIntyre, Associate Professor Andrea Insch, Associate Professor Candida Savage, Dr Caroline Decourt, Research Associate Professor Jill Haszard and Associate Professor Julia Albrecht.

Associate Professor Julia Albrecht, of the Department of Tourism, has won the Otago University Students’ Association Supervisor of the Year Award for 2023, with one of her nominees describing her as ‘positive, empowering, motivational’.

The awards, which are run in conjunction with the Graduate Research School, were held on Thursday afternoon.

“It’s quite wonderful to be awarded for something that I love doing,” Associate Professor Albrecht says.

She was quick to mention how privileged she feels to work within a department that has "such a fantastic postgraduate research culture".

"They're a fantastic group of young researchers."

Supervisor of the Year awards 2023 Julia Albrecht Richard Blaikie

The winner of the OUSA Supervisor of the Year award for 2023 is Associate Professor Julia Albrecht, of the Department of Tourism, pictured here receiving her award from Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Enterprise, Professor Richard Blaikie.

OUSA Postgraduate Representative for 2023, Keegan Wells, says the nominations are made anonymously. Here are a few comments from students who nominated Associate Professor Albrecht:

"Julia is positive, empowering, motivational, and committed to showing an interest in my progress. She has always provided feedback and criticism of my work that is constructive and prompt; also, she is prepared to create deadlines, challenge, and push me a little when required."

"Dr Albrecht's dedication to her work is unparalleled. She consistently demonstrates her dependability, efficiency, and punctuality, qualities that have not only made her an invaluable colleague but also an exceptional mentor. Her meticulous attention to detail is truly remarkable and sets a standard for excellence. Her clear and open communication style has proven to be invaluable in guiding her students towards success."

"Dr Albrecht's commitment to encouraging independence is a testament to her dedication to nurturing growth. She empowers her students to think critically and independently, fostering their development as researchers and professionals."

The Graduate Research School’s Interim Dean Associate Professor Diane Ruwhiu has praised the outstanding contributions of research supervisors.

“These awards are a celebration of the excellent supervisors we have at Otago, who do an amazing job in training and preparing the next generation of researchers,” she says.

“We are proud of the contribution they make to the development and success of individual students, and also to the university's reputation, research output, and overall impact on the academic world and society at large.”

OUSA New Supervisor of the Year Dr Caroline Decourt 2023

The winner of the OUSA New Supervisor of the Year award for 2023 is Dr Caroline Decourt, of the Department of Anatomy, pictured here receiving her award from Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Enterprise, Professor Richard Blaikie.

Wells says all thesis candidates – Masters and Doctoral - are emailed requesting nominations for the awards.

A panel, which included Wells and Doctoral representatives from each division – Humanities, Commerce, Health Sciences and Science - then consider these nominations.

The awards acknowledge two finalists and a winner from each division, as well as overall Supervisor of the Year and New Supervisor of the Year, Wells says.

“So the whole process is very student-led, with the Graduate Research School assisting with the admin and ranking of the candidates, as well as confirming the eligibility for the ‘new’ supervisor, and sponsoring of the event,” she says.

This year’s New Supervisor of the Year is Dr Caroline Decourt from the Department of Anatomy. Dr Decourt is a Research Fellow from the Anderson Group.

Dr Decourt said she was “overwhelmed” by the support and dedication of the students she worked with.

“I’m really proud of them. It’s such a privilege to be nominated and to win this award.”

Students who nominated Dr Decourt said:

"What makes Caroline really shine however is how far she goes to create a supporting and nurturing environment. She always answers the door for your 100th question of the day, she stays up unholy hours to get you across deadlines you may be failing to reach, she takes the time to listen to your thoughts and ideas without fear of judgement. Caroline is more than a supervisor; she is a mentor who helps you grow as an individual and a budding scientist."

"Caroline is the most selfless person I know."

"Caroline deserves a great deal of praise for her proactive approach to student professional development. Caroline always gives timely, valuable thesis-related input. Her constant remarks and collaboration with co-supervisors ensure a positive and productive workplace."

The winners and finalists for OUSA Supervisor of the Year awards 2023:

Commerce finalists: Dr Duminda Kuruppuarachchi, Accountancy and Finance, and Associate Professor Andrea Insch, Marketing.

Commerce winner: Associate Professor Julia Albrecht, Tourism.

Health Sciences finalists: Professor Leigh Hale, Physiotherapy, and Dr Nathan Kenny, Biochemistry.

Health Sciences winner: Dr Caroline Decourt, Anatomy.

Humanities finalists: Dr Gwynaeth McIntyre, Classics, and Dr Ashraful Alam, Geography.

Humanities winner: Professor Merata Kawharu, Sustainability.

Sciences finalists: Associate Professor Candida Savage, Marine Science, and Research Associate Professor Jill Haszard, Biostatistics.

Sciences winner: Dr Gert-Jan Jeunen, Marine Science.

Supervisor of the Year: Associate Professor Julia Albrecht, Tourism.

New Supervisor of the Year: Dr Caroline Decourt, Anatomy.

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