Coburn will receive the Governor General's Gold Medal at Simon Fraser University’s June Convocation. The Governor General’s Gold Medals are awarded to the top two graduate students who are judged to have the most outstanding records in the graduating class.

FASS News

Dr. Patricia I. Coburn awarded Governor General's Gold Medal

June 24, 2021
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Originally posted in Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

Coming to SFU in 2011 to undertake her master’s studies in Law and Forensic Psychology, Patricia Coburn stayed to complete her PhD in the same discipline, graduating with top honours. 

Coburn’s doctoral thesis, The Effects of Cross-Examination on Children's Reports, revealed the adverse effects of cross-examination on children’s accuracy and consistency in testifying, particularly if the children have experienced repeated or multiple events of trauma and abuse. Approximately half of the children who testify as complainants in court are children who experienced multiple traumatic events, and yet the research Coburn undertook for her thesis had never been studied. Coburn not only undertook this research, but she also did so in an exemplary manner, receiving a SSHRC Canada Doctoral Scholarship to fund her studies.  

A well-rounded student, Coburn is highly published, was a member of the editorial board of Law and Human Behaviour, mentoring research assistants in the lab, supervising honours students and teaching courses both in-person and online as well.

Coburn’s external examiner described her dissertation as “exceptional,” “a home run” and publishable in a top-tier journal. Dr. Poole noted that Coburn’s dissertation was thoroughly supported with an impeccable grasp of the complex and varied literature, a brilliant design that tested the hypotheses as well as alternative explanations for the effects, statistically sound, and beautifully written.

Professor and chair of psychology, Deborah Connolly, supervised Coburn throughout her graduate studies at SFU and says, “I would not ordinarily say this; however, in this context I think it is relevant. Trishia completed this work as a mother of four 4 children; the youngest was just a few months old when data collection started. I say this to highlight Trishia’s outstanding organizational skills, efficiency, rock-solid work ethic, and collaborative working style. She truly is the full deal.”  

Coburn will receive the Governor General's Gold Medal at Simon Fraser University’s June Convocation. Presented by the Governor-General of Canada, this medal is awarded to two graduate students who are judged to have the most outstanding records in the graduating class.

Coborn is incredibly honoured and excited to have been recognized with this award. She says, “I simply could not have done it without the constant encouragement of my supervisors: Dr. Deb Connolly, Dr. Daniel Bernstein, and Dr. George Alder. Deb encouraged me to pursue research that I was passionate about and helped me to maintain focus throughout the program. She is an outstanding role model with an exceptional work ethic”.

Coburn is very grateful for the support that she received from the psychology department. “It was a wonderful place to be for many years. I treasure the time I spent in the lab and have made life-long friends”.

Currently, Coburn is a faculty member at Kwantlen Polytechnic University where she continues to conduct research on memory and issues related to vulnerable witnesses.