Student Success

Saint Mary’s PhD graduate wins international award

Dr. Samantha A. Penney

Dr. Samantha A. Penney

Saint Mary’s University is proud to announce that Dr. Samantha A. Penney, a recent PhD graduate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, has received the prestigious 2019 Kenneth E. Clark Student Research Award from the Center for Creative Leadership and the International Leadership Association.

“It is an absolute honour to have my dissertation research recognized internationally,” said Dr. Penney.

In her award-winning paper on leadership titled Fostering a Psychologically Healthy Workplace through Leadership, Dr. Penney created and validated a scale to assess leadership behaviours that contribute to a healthy workplace, and then designed a workshop and phone-based coaching program which she delivered to leaders in eight organizations across seven provinces.

The training includes knowledge of what a healthy workplace is, leaders’ roles in creating that healthy workplace, and goal setting and skill development to act on that knowledge. “For example, infrequent feedback, such as only having annual performance reviews are a concern in organizations. Research has suggested that employees are more likely to change their behaviour and attitudes when they receive frequent positive and constructive feedback,” she explained.

 “The results demonstrate that leadership behaviours can be trained,” said Dr. Penney, adding that while many of the leadership behaviours identified aren’t new information, giving leaders the tools and training to apply the knowledge is key. “Employees often move up within an organization into a leadership role because they’re good at their jobs, but they don’t always have leadership skills.”

 “Working with leaders and organizations to provide practical recommendations is something that I am very passionate about, and my research ties into my new role of conducting leadership assessments for the purposes of selection and development,” she said.  

“Dr. Penney, and her research, are very deserving of this international recognition,” said Dr. Arla Day, her dissertation supervisor. “Not only does this award demonstrate her expertise and innovation in the area, but it also reinforces the reputation of Saint Mary’s as a high-caliber training institution with a strong level of research expertise in occupational health psychology.”


Background

Dr. Penney recently completed her PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at Saint Mary’s. She completed her Master of Science in Applied Psychology at Saint Mary’s and has an Honours Bachelor of Arts from Lakehead University.

She has authored several journal articles and book chapters on leadership and employee well-being, and has presented her work at national and international conferences.

Her experience as an independent consultant and leadership coach, developing both leader-level and employee-level training programs, and as a facilitator, delivering workshops and seminars to corporate clients aligns with her background in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.

She recently accepted a role as a Talent & Leadership Development Assessment Analyst at Lee Hecht Harrison Knightsbridge in Toronto.

About the Kenneth E. Clark Award

The Kenneth E. Clark Student Research Award recognizes one outstanding unpublished paper by undergraduate and graduate students each year. It is sponsored by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) and the International Leadership Association (ILA).

Papers are evaluated by 13 CCL research faculty members through a multi-rater, blind review process. Winners of the international award receive a cash prize, and a trip to ILA’s Annual Conference to present the winning paper there and in various multimedia ILA publications.

Dr. Penney follows in the footsteps on another Saint Mary’s alumna in winning this award. Aleka MacLellan, who was then a recent PhD graduate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and won the same award in 2017.

 

 

New SMU space at Volta open for business

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Saint Mary’s students, faculty and researchers now have access to a new office space at Volta in downtown Halifax.

Dubbed the Entrepreneurship Connector, the bright new space can accommodate up to 6 people and puts Saint Mary’s in the heart of the Halifax innovation district, providing access to resources and allowing faculty, researchers and programs to better reach and engage with the community and local businesses.

The space and the partnership “creates a direct pathway for students, faculty and staff from across all disciplines within the university to engage in entrepreneurship and help grow and support the start-up ecosystem,” says Michael Sanderson, Director of the Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre.

Volta, now in its sixth year of operation, tripled in size last year to 60,000 square feet. Spanning across three floors of the Maritime Centre, the innovation hub is creating a place for entrepreneurs and innovators to work, learn and connect with each other.

Saint Mary’s is the first post-secondary institution to provide its students and faculty direct access to Volta’s community of innovators with a dedicated work space onsite.

Faculty and students can book the space via an online: https://www.smuec.ca/volta/

Forensic Science Camp underway

It’s an exciting week for students in our popular Forensic Science Camp in the Faculty of Science.

Now in its second year, and with a second week added due to popular demand, teens in Forensic Science Camp learn about DNA extraction and examination, fingerprint collection and analysis, and examination of blood stains and spatter patterns.

“Forensic science is the application of science with a legal component,” explained Dr. Brenna Frasier, the camp’s founder and lead instructor.  “You could use forensics in chemistry, biology, engineering… it encompasses almost any scientific field.”

The lessons are a combination of instruction and hands-on learning, designed for students who are keen to learn and participate and who want experience conducting scientific research in a lab. They also learn to work as a team, as they would in “real world” situations.

An exciting part of the camp is doing a mock crime scene investigation in the field – in this case, in a staged residence room. Processing a crime scene is followed by a mock trial and presentation of evidence. Students also meet with professionals working in the field.

This camp gives participants a feel for the forensic science industry, and most of these students are already considering university programs in this field. By learning about skeletal remains, hair and fibre examination, and crime scene examination from our expert faculty members, students learn what crime scene investigators, forensic experts and other professionals do in their careers, and many are looking forward to pursuing this study further.

To be accepted into the camp, students age 14-17 complete an application form and an essay outlining their interest in Forensic Science.  To learn more, click here. Registration for summer 2020 will open in February.

Saint Mary's signs MOU with the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre

SMU Indigenous Student Advisor Raymond Sewell; Saint Mary’s President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray, Pam Glode-Desrochers, Executive Director of the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre; Elder Debbie Eisan; and Tom Brophy, Senior Director, Student Affairs & Services.

SMU Indigenous Student Advisor Raymond Sewell; Saint Mary’s President Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray, Pam Glode-Desrochers, Executive Director of the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre; Elder Debbie Eisan; and Tom Brophy, Senior Director, Student Affairs & Services.

Saint Mary’s has taken another step forward on the path towards reconciliation.

This month Dr. Rob Summerby-Murray and Pam Glode-Desrochers, Executive Director of the Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre (MNFC) signed an important MOU that strengthens connection and collaboration between the two organizations.

The Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre helps provide social-based programming for Urban Aboriginal People and serves a focal point for the urban Aboriginal community to gather. The new MOU creates a partnership that will see Saint Mary’s consult the Friendship Centre on the development of appropriate protocols for on-campus activities and enhancing support for Indigenous students, faculty and staff.

Another key part of the agreement is that the MNFC will provide an Elder on Campus four hours per week, a role now being filled by Elder Debbie Eisan.

Elder Debbie Eisan was on hand for the signing and told the group that Indigenous students at local highschools are increasingly aware of the work happening at Saint Mary’s and appreciate knowing that Indigenous Student Advisor Raymond Sewell is available to them.

“We are really excited about how the MOU articulates the mutual desire to strengthen connections between Saint Mary’s University and the Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre,” says Tom Brophy, Senior Director, Student Affairs and Services. “It opens the door for the MNFC to provide support and advice to Saint Mary’s as we move to continue to improve the experience of the Indigenous students and Indigenous culture on campus broadly.”

“I am delighted that we have taken this important step together,” said Dr. Summerby-Murray. “Saint Mary’s is looking forward to the many opportunities to collaborate on Indigenous-related programming, Indigenous-focused projects, research and of course enhancing learning opportunities for Indigenous students.”

An official celebration of the MOU signing is being planned for fall 2019.

Young historians shine at Provincial Heritage Fair

The future of history is in great hands, if the Nova Scotia Provincial Heritage Fair is any indication.

Eighty students from across the province showcased their excellent and informative history projects on June 6 and 7, in the McNally Theatre Auditorium at Saint Mary’s University. Ranging from Grades 4 to 9, the students researched everything from local theatre and Louisbourg to maple syrup and “Canadian stereotypes, eh?”

With a new award this year for military heritage, some projects reflected Nova Scotian involvement in the Second World War, particularly poignant as the fair coincided with 75th anniversary commemorations for D-Day. Other new awards recognized student research in African heritage topics, environmental history, equity and justice, immigration studies, the history of science and technology, and more.

Cultural heritage also had a strong showing, with detailed projects about Viola Desmond, the ‘60s Scoop, an Inuit family tree, the Underground Railroad, Portuguese and Dutch immigration to Canada, Celtic fiddles and Acadian culture.

Many students found inspiration in their own families, including a Grade 6 girl from Bridgewater researched Portia White, “whose brother Lorne was my great grandfather”. A Grade 6 boy from Albert Bridge, Cape Breton, chronicled the history of Sydney Steel, where his grandfather and great grandfather both worked. “It was definitely a tough job,” he said.

The projects were winners at regional fairs across the province before coming to SMU. The Provincial Fair judges are all professionals active in the fields of culture, history and heritage – professors from the SMU Faculty of Arts, archivists, librarians, museum curators, museum interpreters and more.

The student delegates and their chaperones stayed overnight on campus in residence. They also took part in workshops at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, creating their own folk art inspired by Maud Lewis, who was the theme for this year’s event. Africville will be the focus for next year’s Nova Scotia Heritage Day and the Provincial Fair.

Follow the Nova Scotia Provincial Heritage Fair on its website, on Facebook at @novascotiaheritagefairs, and on Instagram at nsprovincialheritagefair.