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2019 OUSA Supervisor of the Year named

Friday, 9 August 2019

supervisor-of-the-year-2019-group-image
The winners and finalists of the 2019 OUSA Supervisor of the Year awards at the Staff Club last night, led by Supervisor of the Year winner Dr Susan Wardell (left) and New Supervisor of the Year winner Dr Charlotte King (right). Photo: Sharron Bennett.

It was only a “few” years ago Dr Susan Wardell was watching her supervisor be awarded the OUSA Supervisor of the Year.

In 2014 she nominated her Social Anthropology supervisor – Professor Ruth Fitzgerald – in the competition.

Now it has come full circle, with Dr Wardell being given the top nod at the awards.

"It’s a journey we’re on together but postgraduate study can be really stressful. If I can bring them into my office for a cup of tea, put a cup of tea in their hands and can have great chats then I hope that’s one of the things they’ve enjoyed."

“Everything I’ve learnt about being a professor was from her,” Dr Wardell says.

Her black teapot and many cups of tea have become a staple of her relationships with her postgraduate students.

“That symbolises my supervision philosophy in some ways – I put people at ease.

“It’s a journey we’re on together but postgraduate study can be really stressful. If I can bring them into my office for a cup of tea, put a cup of tea in their hands and can have great chats then I hope that’s one of the things they’ve enjoyed.”

Dr Wardell has made a clear impact on the students she supervises, despite only having a few years as a supervisor.

“We’re a small programme but really passionate about teaching and student-centred work.”

She says it is an honour to be recognised for her work in a role which often goes more under the radar than many roles at the University and that it was fantastic to celebrate with all the other wonderful finalists from across the divisions.

Dr Charlotte King from the Department of Anatomy has only been a postgraduate supervisor for two years “tops” but in her short time has made a big impact on her doctoral students.

Her impact was clear when she was announced the New Supervisor of the Year.

"I think I’m pretty interested in my students’ lives."

The win was completely unexpected for Dr King, who says her student “clearly wrote very nice things” about her.

“I think I’m pretty interested in my students’ lives.”

Pastoral care is very important to Dr King, who says she likes to ensure she is always approachable and also wants to make sure she gets out into the field with her students and truly understands their research topics.

The OUSA Supervisor of the Year Awards bring together outstanding supervisors from across the divisions, with three finalists from each division. The awards recognise the contribution made by supervisors to the success of students researching and writing for the doctoral, master's and postgraduate diploma.

Professor Rachel Spronken-Smith, Dean of the Graduate Research School, says it’s important to celebrate the excellence of Otago’s supervisors because the success and enjoyment of graduate students depends on their experience with their supervisors.

OUSA Supervisor of the Year Divisional Winners

Commerce
Dr Helen Roberts – Department of Accountancy and Finance

Health Sciences
Dr Charlotte King – Department of Anatomy

Humanities
Dr Susan Wardell – Social Anthropology

Sciences
Dr Tina Summerfield – Department of Botany