Celebrating our First Annual BISC Outreach Award Winners!

April 13, 2021

Department of Biological Sciences

The Biological Sciences Outreach and Engagement Committee is excited to announce the winners of the first annual Biological Sciences Outreach Award.  We had several amazing nominees in the student competition, and we would like to thank all of them for their contributions to outreach.  We did not get any nominees in the non-student competition this year.  The good news is that this allowed us to recognize two people for their outstanding outreach work in the student competition.   

The committee’s decision was guided by many factors including:

  • demonstrating initiative and leadership,
  • the variety and breadth of the activities,
  • the breadth of the audience, and
  • the cumulative effort and time commitment.

The winners in no particular order are Ranah Chavoshi and Andreas (Andi) Fischer

Ranah Chavoshi is an inspiring and tireless leader in outreach both within and beyond our department. Her list of activities is extensive and diverse. Most recently she has participated in the Skype A Scientist program (earning her a glowing reference letter from a Grade 6 teacher at a public elementary school in rural Massachusetts), in Meet an SFU Scientist (engaging Grade 10-12 students about science, her research, and her SFU journey), and as an invited speaker to present information synthesized from a workshop (GLOBE 2020 conference in Vancouver during February 2020) to Natural Resources Canada and YESS program sector about Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in STEM workplaces. In the words of one of her nominators:

"...Ranah is (and has been for many years) a powerful catalyst for positive change, and she not only takes an active part in outreach as an educator: she creates new opportunities for many others to take part too. The extra effort and passion she puts into inspiring, uplifting and encouraging under-represented populations in Sciences is particularly important, as it's these efforts that will ultimately lead to a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive Scientific Community."

Andreas Fischer has inspired many of us with his creative and outstanding "Get inSPIDERed" program that includes creative activities and examples from his impressive collection of live arachnids. He has shared the program widely, as an active participant in Science In Action, hosting multiple-table displays at Science Rendezvous and Spooktacular, and with local media such as CBC Radio and CityTV's Breakfast Television. His enthusiasm with outreach and engagement is tireless and his list of activities includes countless school visits and online presentations. His presentation is popular with local schools. One Math & Science educator noted about Andreas: "Students that attend the sessions have become more aware of their environments and the creatures that share the world with them. The students have become more curious and are waiting to ask questions about spiders and the world that they live in." In the words of Andreas' nominator:

"Underneath Andi’s enthusiasm is a very thoughtful approach to debunking spider myths and fears. He often begins with a questionnaire or talk about basic spider biology and facts, and he works to generate curiosity about these animals. As people get more comfortable talking about spiders, he works up to introducing them to his specimens and live collection. It’s this attention to the psychology of fear, to thinking not just about the science but about peoples’ emotions, that make his program accessible to a wide range of people. What distinguishes Andi is the combination of his scientific expertise, creativity, attention to emotion, and enthusiasm."

Thank you to Ranah and Andi for all you do and congratulations!!