2019 Chris Dagg Award for International Impact

August 08, 2019

Announcement from Joy Johnson, Vice-President, Research & International, SFU

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Catherine D’Andrea and Dr. Carl Lowenberger have been selected as the recipients of the 2019 Chris Dagg Award for International Impact.

Dr. Catherine D’Andrea has been a professor in the Department of Archaeology since 1992. Her research focuses on environmental archaeology, traditional agricultural knowledge, early agriculture and the rise of complex societies. 

Over the years, Dr. D’Andrea has been involved with numerous international collaborations which involved fieldwork in Ethiopia, Ghana, Sudan, Egypt, Japan and Turkey. Dr. D’Andrea’s previous work in West and East Africa involved investigations of ancient domestication history and modern traditional knowledge of neglected cereal crops. She has advocated for their development because of drought-resistance and other properties that benefit rural farmers in Ghana and Ethiopia. Dr. D’Andrea currently leads an international team of investigators who blend scientific and traditional knowledge to understand past and present human-environmental interactions in the Horn of Africa. 

In addition to Canadian students, Dr. D’Andrea has supervised the dissertation research of international students from Tanzania, Ghana, Ethiopia, Egypt, USA and Turkey. Throughout her career, Dr. D’Andrea and her students have supported capacity building for African universities and cultural heritage institutions through book and equipment donations, participated in archaeological curriculum development and provided archaeological training for university staff and employment opportunities for rural communities. Through community consultations in Ethiopia, Dr. D’Andrea and her team have completed tourism initiatives to ensure that both urban and rural peoples benefit from cultural heritage resources. These have included the production of exhibits for a new museum in the town of Adigrat and the construction of a small interpretive centre at an archaeological site in a rural area.

Dr. Lowenberger has worked on the international scene since the mid 1980s. After his undergraduate degree he worked for a Colombian non-governmental organization working on agricultural and primary health care programs. Subsequently he has worked on development and research problems in Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Brazil and Egypt. His current research looks at the epidemiological and molecular factors that determine how and why some insects transmit pathogens to humans while others do not: essentially he studies the innate immune system of insects and how they recognize the pathogens and pathways they use to eliminate these pathogens. If we could persuade all insects to kill these pathogens we could eliminate some of these diseases.  

Dr. Lowenberger’s research lab includes—or has included—many students, visiting scientists or professors from countries where these diseases and insect vectors are found. They return to their home institutions with the molecular tools to explore or validate in the field what we hypothesize should be happening based on the laboratory studies. They also bring a real world contribution to Canadian students on the realities of working under difficult conditions. Dr. Lowenberger and students also have spent significant time working in these institutions in Latin America, which has resulted in more formal associations with Simon Fraser University through memorandums of understanding. 

Dr. Lowenberger has a passion for research in Latin America and spent significant time discussing ideas with Chris Dagg, which helped develop his approach to development projects and research initiatives. In terms of International development, early work established long-term agricultural development projects that increased crop and honey production, implemented different farming techniques to increase productivity, and therefore household income. Later projects have identified mechanisms we can manipulate in insects to reduce the transmission of viruses—such as Dengue and Zika—by mosquitoes to humans.

This annual award recognizes and celebrates the achievements of SFU faculty or staff who have made a significant contribution to international sustainable development on behalf of SFU. The award is named after Chris Dagg who, for 30 years, contributed to shaping and advancing SFU's commitment to international development. He directed major SFU projects in Indonesia and China. Until his retirement in 2015, Chris was central to SFU's international engagement.

Please join me in celebrating the remarkable achievements of Dr. D’Andrea and Dr. Lowenberger. 


Joy Johnson
Vice-President, Research & International