News Shorts: U of A books two for award and more
U of A books two for award
Augustana Campus creative writing instructor Marina Endicott and former U of A playwriting instructor and alumnus Vern Thiessen have been nominated for this year’s Governor General’s Literary Awards.
It’s Thiessen’s second nomination for the award, which he won in 2003 for Einstein’s Gift. This time the nod comes for Lenin’s Embalmers, a black comedy recounting the true story of the two men directed by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to embalm Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Russian Revolution, upon his death in 1924.
“I was really surprised [to receive the nomination],” said Thiessen. “I love this play and think it’s really good, but I never expected it to be nominated. I was on the committee that selected the short list and winner last year, and I know it’s really hard to get on that list.”
A 1992 graduate of the U of A’s former master’s of fine arts in playwriting, Thiessen’s plays—including Lenin’s Embalmers, Einstein’s Gift, Shakespeare’s Will, Apple and an adaptation of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights—have been produced in major Canadian and American centres, and even in Europe and Asia. As one of Canada’s most-produced playwrights, he now has agents in New York, Canada and Germany.
For Endicott, it’s her second nomination for a literary prize this fall; her novel The Little Shadows was also long-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize last month, although it failed to make the short list that was announced early in October. The book concerns three sisters in the early 20th century who become Vaudeville singers after their father dies, and Endicott attributes her work at Augustana Campus for helping inform it.
Scholarship named after inspiring physical therapist
The Ian Sim Memorial Graduate Scholarship was established this year, awarded to a physical therapy student who has shown commitment to lifelong learning in his or her career—a quality physical therapist Ian Sim himself possessed. This year’s inaugural Ian Sim Memorial Graduate Scholarship went to Adam Teece, an master’s of science in physical therapy student who is convocating this fall. His commitment to lifelong learning led him to pursue a performance diploma, a theatre degree and now a master’s of science degree.
“I think lifelong learning is about always staying curious and appreciating that there is always more to learn. If you are given the opportunity to pursue these interests, go for it all the way.”
Teece is currently on the job hunt and looking forward to practicing physical therapy full time. He hopes to work with athletes and the general public.
“One of the big draws of physiotherapy for me is that there a great opportunity to continue your education after you have graduated, allowing you to explore many areas of practice and treatment techniques.”
Helping the medicine go down
Sharon Marsh is a geneticist who believes improving a patient’s treatment outcomes should be accessible worldwide.
To address what she sees as a growing need to personalize health-care treatments, Marsh joined a group of researchers who wanted to find a way to provide affordable worldwide genetic-based medication screening. They created an American-based non-profit organization called Pharmacogenetics for Every Nation Initiative. Marsh is the first Canadian researcher to work with the initiative and holds the position of chief genomics officer.
“Every individual reacts differently to drug treatment. These small differences can have a large impact on recovery,” said Marsh, an assistant professor in Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “Unfortunately, developing countries don’t have the infrastructure or the funds to run genetic tests that may identify these different outcomes on each patient.”
In response to that need, the initiative aims to identify groups of people within a country’s population who are at high risk of toxicity or treatment failure, based on the groups’ genetic information. That information is then sent to ministries of health in the form of medical decision trees and are guides, which will help health-care providers choose drug treatments. The Pharmacogenetics for Every Nation Initiative will not release personal identifiers and will hold any personal information, such as DNA, in a password-protected data repository. “Ultimately, some of the population data will be published, with a lot of the information coming from previously published studies. Apart from country/ethnicity/tribe information there will be no identifiers published—just anonymous blood donor information that is frequently published already.”
Education policy symposium announced
On Oct. 28 the Global Citizenship Curriculum Development Project will be holding a symposium and facilitated discussion session on the Ethical University and Citizenship Engagement in the 21st Century. The keynote speaker will be Walter Mignolo, an Argentine semiotician and professor at Duke University who has published extensively on semiotics and literary theory, exploring concepts such as global coloniality, the geopolitics of knowledge, transmodernity, border thinking and pluriversality.
The conference, hosted by the Faculty of Education, will also a feature post-presentation deliberation on policy implications and proposed frameworks for building ethical international partnership and programming, which will be facilitated by Lynette Shultz, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies.
For more information on the symposium, contact Shelane Jorgenson at firstname.lastname@example.org.