Two new purple plaques will soon adorn Western's campus as the community votes on which historical achievements to recognize.
In 2017, Research Western created heritage plaques, which celebrate past university achievements in research, scholarship and opportunity. Two plaques, voted on annually by Western students and faculty, are placed on the building that is most important to a significant achievement. For example, last year a plaque was dedicated to Helen Battle and installed inside the Biological and Geological Sciences Building. Battle is a professor emeritus of zoology at Western, and she was the first woman in Canada to earn a PhD in marine biology.
Douglas Keddy, Research Western's communications manager, explained the heritage plaques were created to make people aware of all the outstanding research achievements that have been made over the years.
“Whether it’s people who are walking these halls currently as students, faculty, prospective students or alumni, they are able to celebrate in the awareness of some pretty ground-breaking work that’s gone on here,” said Keddy.
Compared to last year, which had 10 nominations overall — five from STEM disciplines and five from the social sciences and arts and humanities, Western Research has narrowed it down to three nominations per category.
Research moments and discoveries shortlisted for 2018 include:
- 1948: Murray Barr discovered the sex chromatin — now known as the Barr body — ushering in a new era in research and diagnosis of genetic disorders.
- 1958: Robert Noble and Charles Beer isolated the anti-cancer drug “vinblastine” — the first of a series of chemotherapy drugs used in cancer care — which is still used today.
- 1965: Western opened the first-of-its-kind Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory, defining the field of wind engineering and testing such structures as the World Trade Center, CN Tower and Confederation Bridge.
Social sciences, arts and humanities disciplines
- 1970s-Present: Economist John Whalley revolutionized policy analysis in areas that include trade and taxation and pioneered the use of CGE models to analyze effects of public policy change.
- 1992 The Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children has led many groundbreaking policy and legislative changes related to domestic violence, child protection, child custody and labour employment standards.
- 1997: Specializing in industrial and organizational psychology, John Meyer and Natalie Allen developed the Commitment Scales to categorize ways in which employees are attached to their organizations.
In addition, for the first time this year, Research Western will also introduce a plaque that recognizes contributions made by individuals and communities who have been alienated or marginalized from being active participants in Western’s research history. Nominees are chosen by Research Western.
“The aim is to have nominees more than 20 years old, rather than make it awkward for a researcher who is still wandering these halls or who are perhaps early in their career. We want to try to celebrate some of the older achievements first,” explained Keddy.
Each plaque explains the research achievement it commemorates and includes a link to a website that explains more about the specific achievement.
Nominees for this year's two plaques can be found here. Voting ends on April 13.