Tips and Tricks

The Supervisor Shout Out Contest!

February 12, 2015

Is your supervisor supportive, inspiring, or just generally awesome?

As we gear up to our Annual Dean of Graduate Studies Awards for Excellence in Supervision nomination process, we asking you to get your thanks on with the Supervisor Shout Out contest.

What? Create a post on Twitter or on our Graduate Students Facebook page with the hashtag #SUPERvisorSFU telling us why an SFU grad supervisor is awesome. Anyone can nominate: Graduate students, staff and even fellow faculty members!  

When? Contest runs Friday, February 13 – Friday, February 27, 2015.

Why? Win a limited edition SFU SUPERvisor mug for your supervisor.

How? Mugs will be given out on Monday, March 2 according to the following categories: 

  • funniest post/tweet
  • most inspiring post/tweet
  • most posted/tweeted prof
  • tweets/posts with photos of their supervisor doing something awesome
  • random draw

Note: There are 50 prizes total.

Wait, why exactly should I do this again?
To celebrate great SFU supervisors, inspire more supervisory greatness, and help us get geared up for our annual Dean of Graduate Studies Awards for Excellence in Supervision, Graduate Leadership, and Graduate Service. Nomination deadline is March 15, 2015.

In addition to a gorgeous glass plaque, faculty who win the supervisor award receive a graduate fellowship of $6,500 that can be awarded to a graduate student of their choice. That could be you.

Twitter feed:

Aynur Kadir:
Using digital technology to preserve and revitalize Aboriginal cultural heritage through participatory media production may sound fancy, but it is not easy.

Dr. Kate Hennessy rises to the interdisciplinary intellectual challenge, while graciously being a supportive, empathetic and kind role model.

Through community based digital heritage projects like Sq’éwlets: A Stó:lo-Coast Salish community in the Fraser River Valley, Ethnographic Terminalia and more, she is exploring re-presentation, ethics and opportunities of the continuity of indigenous cultural heritage and traditional knowledge in digital era.

Kate ably balances her family-life (including being a new mom!), with her career demands which cast her into being fruitful researcher, inspiring producer, fantastic teacher, amazing artist — and she also finds time to guide, mentor and be friend to the Grads she supervises.

There is so much I can learn from her, to help me build my career, my research and my social skills. She is simply, fabulously, awesomely AMAZING. Here I nominate Dr. Kate Hennessy to #SUPERvisorSFU award.

Erin Hogg:
I nominate my ‪#‎SUPERvisorSFU‬, Dr. John Welch, Resource and Environmental Management, who has put up with me for my MA and now PhD!

John was kind enough to take me on as a student for my MA, found me funding, and helped me make the sometimes challenging transition to graduate school.

He challenges me to "think, think, and think some more" about my research and inspires me to cycle up Burnaby Mountain! Hopefully one day I will be able to cycle up the hill five days a week and be an amazing wordsmith.

For now, I'll just have to say that I wouldn't be doing my Ph.D. if it wasn't for John!

Joana Bettochi:
Dr. Gerardo Otero, Sociology and Anthropology, is an outstanding supervisor! His dedication and passion for his research is inspiring. Gerardo always takes the time to read my work and never fails to provide constructive feedback. He is always available to discuss ideas, even if it means talking over Skype. He is my ‪#‎SUPERvisor‬.

Alix Shield, English:
I’m no poet, but I thought I’d take the time,
To thank YOU, my supervisor, in this simple rhyme.

Your incomparable enthusiasm and unrelenting energy,
Have helped me stay on course amidst the graduate school frenzy.

Thanks for being kind, and generous, and funny,
And for supporting me consistently – for this I’m very lucky.

By the way, I owe you a fancy coffee (and also a whole lot more),
But for now I hope a heartfelt “thanks” will help even the score.

Being a supervisor? You know what that’s all about,
Dr. Sophie McCall - I’m giving you a SHOUT OUT!

Vinu Subashini:
Dr. Robert Woodbury
, Interactive Arts and Technology, is a very passionate professor when it comes to our research; he helps in realizing our ideas without imposition! It’s hard to express in words how much he has influenced our lives with his work and personality. Woodbury Clan Rocks!

These are the few typical expressions that I have observed in him “What???” (A.jpeg), “Now, that’s an idea!” (B.jpeg) “Full Content Smile” (C.Jpeg) and well...he tried dancing!

Kristin Carlson:
The most exciting, supportive and fun-loving ‪#‎SUPERvisorSFU‬! From helping students to find 'the essence' of their own research ideas to singing at parties, Thecla Schiphorst, Interactive Arts and Technology, is so enthusiastic about research, teaching, dancing and life in general that she is an amazing role model!

Amber Choo:
What happens when a digital media artist joins a multidisciplinary program like SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology and throws herself into the intersection between chronic pain, HCI and cognitive sciences research?

She panics. She panics a lot. She realizes too late that there are pieces to the puzzle she does not have, that there is so much she doesn’t understand. She is asked to do things she does not know how to do. Her friends graduate while she is left behind. She considers maybe the school was wrong to take her in.

Dr. Bernhard Riecke asks to join her supervisory committee. He is not from her world, but they communicate well. Her new supervisor explains to her the missing pieces, the statistics, how to formulate questionnaires, what an ANOVA is. He is patient, but she learns quickly.

This week, I completed the clinical study for my master’s degree with software and questionnaires that I developed. The data are wonderful – statistically significant - and will help many people. I would not have been able to do this without him.

I would like to nominate Dr. Bernhard Riecke for #SUPERvisorSFU. Although my story is brief, I hope it can convey how important it is that he is here working with us. As a cognitive scientist in a completely different research lab, he was not expected to help me, and he took a risk in doing so. I am very glad to have met him.

Heather Coatsworth‎:
Beyond pumped to join Dr. Carl Lowenberger's mosquito mafia in Biology! He truly makes every student feel like a blood brother, and is a wonderfully sarcastic vector of education. #SUPERvisorSFU

Azadeh Forghani:
Dr. Carman Neustaedter, Interactive Arts and Technology, is the most awesome, supportive, caring supervisor, mentor and teacher that I could ever wish for. In the most difficult moments that I was about to give up, he was there to make me believe in myself again and to boost me up with his full support, positive energy, understanding and encouragement. ‪

Valentina Savo:
Dr. Dana Lepofsky (Archeology) is the ultimate supervisor. She push you to be a better researcher but she is always there for helping you.

If you ask her something, she would spend her personal time to work on it, and it is not unusual to get emails from her in the middle of the night, because she is still working.

She is always smiling and caring. She has changed my life and I hope one day I will have as much energy as her to give to my own students.

Krystal Guo:
My ‪#‎SUPERvisorSFU‬ Dr. Bojan Mohar, Mathematics, is an amazing individual. He's a consummate problem-solver and a great researcher, and yet is never impatient, even when re-explaining the simplest concept for the 7th times (the number of times he says it takes for something to sink in).

He has a work ethic worthy of imitation and awe, and yet never gives the slightest hint of expectations of the same from his students. He's well-known in our field and is a Canada Research Chair in Graph Theory, and yet I'm more keenly aware of his compassion, dedication, and kindness.

I have learned so much from him and I am infinitely grateful — that is, the size of my gratitude is greater than א_0 (aleph-null), the cardinality of the natural numbers.

Tenzin Yindok:
I want to give a shoutout to Professors Alexander Karaivanov and Chris Muris from the Economics Department. They have inspired and encouraged me throughout my PhD.

They are kind and sensitive (and they know a lot of euphemisms for "terrible"!). ‪

Belén Febres:
I am deeply thankful to my ‪#‎SUPERvisorSFU‬, Dr. Sonja Luehrmann, Anthropology, because she believed in me even though my undergraduate studies were in a discipline different than the one I chose for my Master's degree, and she has done everything to make sure that I actually make it. She is the best!

Michelle Hagman:
I very much agree with this. Sonja is my supervisor too, and she is amazing. I moved here from basically the other side of the world and she was nothing but supportive! In our meetings she challenges me in the way I look at things but at the same time she makes me feel very comfortable.

Spencer Morran:
Dr. Tony Williams, Biology, is truly a SUPERvisor. Not only is he extremely willing to help any of his students with anything they need, but he is always up for whatever shenanigans we throw at him.

He stole the show as "Bird Man" in the SFU Biology Winterfest talent show and secured us the win!

Allison Cornell:
Dr. Tony Williams helps me sample birds at 5:30am for my thesis research. Sometimes we have to work in the rain. When we go to Starbucks afterwards, the employees stare in amazement at our dirty field clothes and lively discussion of avian mating behavior. I don’t think anyone can top that.

Jeff Crompton:
Dr. Gwenn Flowers our ‪Earth Sciences #‎SUPERvisorSFU‬, is not just brains and scrupulous editing. She carries as much weight up and down the glacier than all of her students combined.

Note that these students comprise of a group of scruffy mountain hooligans, and taming this group is a feat in and of itself.

Usually, Gwenn is so excited to measure the snow accumulation on the glacier, that she won't eat lunch.

Dr. Gwenn Flowers deserves this mug, because she may be the only supervisor capable of carrying a full coffee from Nature's garden to TASC 1 without spilling a drop, while providing daily coffee for the group. Coffee would be flying from the mugs of all other supervisors.

Thanks Gwenn for the patience, laughs, and inspiration. From the Glaciology group.

Thea Rutherford:
My ‪#‎SUPERvisorSFU‬ shoutout goes to Dr. Lynn Fels, Education, whose amazing responsiveness, attentiveness, and inspiring work continues to inspire me in my journey!

Bicram Rijal:
A tireless scholar, a great supervisor, and a wonderful human being. I feel honored to have Dr. Stacy L. Pigg, Anthropology, as my supervisor.

Felipe Nery:
My shoutout goes to Dr. Ken Lertzman, Resource and Environmental Management. He is a very nice person and allows me to have my time! He is accessible when I need and always have good words to say in the bad moments. He's a nature lover and a great ecologist. Beyond his amazing scientific carrer, he plays violin in a awsome way, and likes a lot to talk about music and arts. This mixing of science and arts does Dr. Ken Lertzman, beyond a friend, also my #SUPERvisorSFU.

Daniel Mundeva:
Dr. Elizabeth Cooper, International Studies, is by far the bestest supervisor I could ever hope for. She goes above and beyond her expected responsibilities to not only make sure that I'm staying on track but to also give/find me all the support. She is always available to help, she always believes in me and gives the best constructive criticism. My sincerest thanks to Dr. Cooper.

Thea Van Rossum‎:
Fiona Brinkman, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, is a wonderful mentor and supervisor, helping us navigate the waters of life, science and Port Moody Inlet! 

Taylor Dick:
I feel like I have won the ‪#‎SUPERvisorSFU‬ lottery. Dr James Wakeling, Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology, is the kindest, most inspiring, brilliant, and badass (okay, he wouldn't say that) graduate supervisor; he is the reason I am a scientist. Dr Wakeling definitely wins the prize for graduate student safety.

Here you see him (orange helmet) scouting a grade 3 rapid during our 10 day canoe trip on the Desolation Canyon, Utah. I think he wanted to make sure our boat would make it through so I could return back to the lab to finish my PhD.

Shereedon Rodney: 
I think we have some of the greatest people in Education. There is always someone who is willing to help — Dr. Rina Zazkis, Dr. Peter Liljedahl, Dr. David Pimm, Dr. Sean Chorney, along with numerous senior PhD students. Thank you all for your love and support.

Mina SJ: And of course Dr. Stephen Campbell, the great.

Mina SJ:
Dr.‪ Nathalie Sinclair‬ is not my senior supervisor, but kind enough to direct me through my doctoral journey. I totally agree with my friends Harpreet Kaur and Shereedon Rodney.

Also, we are proud of having Dr. ‪Rina Zazkis‬ in our department. She is amazing super suportive supervisor that supports and threats all doctoral students equally. I started my sessional teaching at SFU all by her encouragement and supports!

Mike Peabody:
Fiona!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Is the best. Fiona Brinkman, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry.

Steph Anie:
I’m relatively new to this “supervisory-relationship thing” (38 days and counting!).

Some lucky graduate students come into their studies/program with a supervisor; while others (like me), have to acquire one on their own. Mind you, nothing prepares you for this process – not the ‘Managing Up I/II’ workshops, or the investigative digging that you do on social media (e.g. Rate my Prof). What I’m getting at is: every graduate student wants to feel accepted and worthy. That they belong. That they belong here, in graduate studies, at SFU. This feeling is intensified ten-fold when you are meeting with a professor who could be your potential supervisor; and this is where my supervisor, Dr. Bryan Kinney (aka ‘BK’), Criminology, comes into play.

I don’t remember exactly how our meeting went. Needless to say, my nerves were shot and I probably made a complete fool out of myself by oversharing (which is exactly what I’m doing now). What I do remember though, is that BK made me feel comfortable, and gave me a sense of belonging. I can’t describe this feeling, but I think every student will be able to find a ‘surprise’ in their ‘supervisor’ (literally).

As for my supervisory-relationship with BK: We’ve only had a handful of meetings, and I still don’t know what I’m writing my dreaded thesis on. At times, I’m not sure if I am laughing with him or at him (he reminds me of Jamie Hyneman from Myth Busters). But we do have this awkward yet comfy 38 day old supervisory relationship that works.

Anyway, what matters most is: BK is MY supervisor, and I’m proud (but slightly embarrassed) to give him this ‪#‎SUPERvisorSFU‬ shout out!


Kino Zhao:
A shout out to my supervisor Nic Fillion, Philosophy — without him I would've never finished my MA in two years (seriously, taking 3 is rapidly becoming the norm in my department) or to present in conferences in my first year! his enthusiasm and energy makes it almost a crime not to be excited about new knowledge.

He is always sensitive to his minority students, who may be brilliant but are too shy to talk. He's one of the very few profs I've encountered who goes out of his way to make sure everyone's voice is heard. He is always always available (and, yes, that includes 3 am emails, which he usually replies in minutes), involved in everything around the department, and somehow still managed to find time to fly around and give talks.

I've had doubts about going into an academic life, but he shows me how exciting it can be. I couldn't ask for a better role model!

Josh Labove:
I could go the funny route, and tell you how my supervisor The Nicholas Blomley™, Geography, has been the longest relationship in my adult life, I could comment on his notably coiffed hair (see photo), or I could simply tell you that few saw what Nick has seen in me--a teacher, researcher, and academic--and he has pushed me far beyond what I ever believed I was capable of to become a more confident and committed scholar.

All of which I hope makes up for the fact that I'm facebooking instead of working on my thesis. Hearts and sparkles to the best supervisor a procrastinating PhD candidate could ask for!

Veronika Lemon:
An image is worth a thousand words — which will still be insufficient to describe the enthusiasm that Dr. Thecla Schiphorst, Interactive Arts and Technology, spreads around.

Shereedon Rodney: 
Guys this is not debatable, I've got the greatest supervisor at SFU. Dr. Nathalie Sinclair is one amazing, caring, supportive, understanding, hard working, knowledgeable, dedicated individual whom I have come to love and admire.

Why? She cares for her students, want them to achieve greatness and most of all provide support financially, emotionally, academically and otherwise.

My experience with her has helped me to set high standards for myself and to work at achieving them. It is a great honor for me to have Dr. Sinclair for my supervisor.

Dr. Cathy D'Andrea (3rd from left in the back) in Ethiopia with many of her students. She has helped so many of these people with their academic careers.

Laurie Nixon Darcus:
Prof. Cathy D'Andrea, Archaeology, has been such an amazing supervisor. My own experience has shown me how much she cares for her students to succeed and reflect a high level of scholarly achievement. As I was applying for graduate school, she gave me guidance in applying for and receiving a SSHRC grant and funded me through her own grant to do initial research in Ethiopia in order to kick-start my research.

In the field she ensured that her students had the necessary food and comfortable lodging/lab space to enable them to complete their work (this is not always easy, or achieved, in archaeological field work – she did a fantastic job). She is kind, supportive, and pushes for excellence in the most caring way.

I would also like to mention how supportive she has been to the individuals we work with in Ethiopia (our research area). She has taken time to develop archaeology in this part of the world by teaching the people who we work with there and helping in whatever way she can to develop their academic careers.

She was solely responsible for helping a fellow SFU Archeology grad student access funding that has allowed him to come here to SFU from Ethiopia to pursue his PhD. Her time spent mentoring and teaching others in Ethiopia, and writing letters of support, has helped them to access funding and even academic jobs.

The training she provided and the exposure to a multidisciplinary team that she gave these individuals have helped one Ethiopian team member obtain a Masters scholarship in Europe and another was granted an assistant professorship at a university near the research location.

I am constantly at awe in how much she gives of her time and herself.

Hossein Hajimirsadeghi:
Have you seen some anime characters, who are very successful in all aspects of life from education to sports.

But at the same time, they are very nice and caring to all people from his/her family to ordinary people. Wait, it is not finished yet. They are also very handsome. Especially, they have a very good looking and fashionable hairstyle.

I was always thinking these are imaginary characters untill I saw my supervisor, Dr. Greg Mori, Computing Science.

Ali Asghar Merchant:
Here's my ‪#‎SUPERvisorSFU‬ shoutout to Dr. Jie Liang, Computing Science. Even though he is not my supervisor anymore, I truly miss his support and motivation. When I first came into SFU and until now, has always been there and has helped Me with all my academic difficulties. Even if it is not related to his field of study, he encourages it and recognizes that knowledge has no bounds.

His soft spoken nature and kindness naturally makes him easily approachable. He is so spontaneous to emails that it feels like you are texting him or chatting with him. He also received a recent award on Leadership!

Thank you Jie for your continuous support even if I am not under your supervision anymore.

Ramtin Mehdizadeh:
My supervisor, Dr. Anoop Sarkar, is a super nice person, but I admire him not for supervision on my thesis or scientific helps or his personality.

I think he has a very strong impact on me when he is talking in short sentences about the philosophy of what we are doing. Sentences like "We are here not to accept projects to become rich, there are always better ways to make money." or "It is not sufficient to come up with ideas just to publish some papers, we should do something that can help people."

These sentences are small fraction of his little hints during our meetings to remind me that "Humanity" is more important than Money, Knowledge and Power, which I really feel it is missing in this world these days.

Jasneet Sabharwal:
Here's my ‪#‎SUPERvisorSFU‬ shoutout to Dr. Anoop Sarkar, "The best supervisor one could ever have".

Anoop's one of the most accessible, friendly and innovative person I have ever met. From discussing research at 2 am to taking us out for amazing food, I cannot thank Anoop enough for all the help that he has provided. His words of wisdom and encouragement when I feel low motivates me to push harder and harder.

The best thing about Anoop as a supervisor is that he pushes us to pursue our ideas and guides us in an excellent manner so that we don't start deviating from our ideas too much.

Harpreet Kaur:
Here's my ‪#‎SUPERvisorSFU‬ shoutout to Dr. Nathalie Sinclair, Faculty of Education: She is very accessible, enthusiastic, innovative, friendly and knowledgeable. She always inspires me to think outside of the box. She treats graduate students as her partners in research, and at the same time she gently guides them.

She always encourages her students for their professional growth. She has more faith in me than myself. Only after her encouragement did I find my confidence and started teaching as a sessional instructor at SFU.

Kyle Empringham:
Here's my ‪#‎SUPERvisorSFU‬ shoutout to Dr. Anne Salomon, Resource and Environmental Management: She's simply the best. I came into my program unclear about what I wanted to do with my research or how to get it done.

Along came superhero Anne, who was willing and able to coach me through a project that was challenging for both her and I. She gave me great insights on how to get the project done, but understood when something wasn't in her wheelhouse and deferred to the right person to find the right answer.

She was supportive and helped me come up with a project I was proud to deliver (and she got me out the door in 2 years flat!). I highly recommend her if you're interested in intertidal ecology!

Maia Smith:
Over and above his uber smart scientific pursuits, Dr. Dave Clarke, Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology, gets a shout out for culturing the most supportive and friendly environment I’ve yet to encounter, and for devoting an incredible amount of time and energy to helping his students succeed.

Shenwei Huang:
I had a rough year in 2014 mainly because I was constantly comparing myself with others. At the end of the year, I sent a short message to my supervisor Pavol Hell, Computing Science, telling him that I felt that everyone is so talented in academia, everyone is better than me, and I felt like I am a loser. Pavol comforted me with the following reply, " there are always some who are smarter and more talented. We are not all dealt the same cards. But the trick is to play well the cards that you do have!!! This is more important than the cards themselves". These are the exact words I wanted to hear at that moment. It helped me a lot!

Simone Hanebaum:
Here's my SUPERvisor shout out to Dr. John Craig, FASS Dean, esteemed historian, and supervisor extraordinaire. Despite all of his admin duties, he always made himself available when I needed him, including spending (literally) hours of his time giving me in person feedback on my M.A. thesis drafts in a British accent that never failed to make (always constructive) criticisms sound incredibly positive (and charming!).

I never left a supervisory meeting feeling frustrated or stressed, I always left feeling far more inspired and motivated than when I had first stepped through the door. He did everything he could to provide me with opportunities to grow as a scholar; from conferences to professional development, from writing countless reference letters, to finding me an awesome external examiner, and sometimes yes, just patiently lending a kind and sympathetic ear.

I'm no longer his graduate student (because I defended "on-time" last April, which I could not have done without John) and he's still providing me with support through the agonizing process that is doctoral applications and my first time in the publishing process. He's one of only a handful of people I can really "nerd out" with when discussing my field and there is nothing nicer than being able to talk about what you're passionate about and not have someone's eyes glaze over when you start talking about Elizabethan religion.

He's a brilliant, well-respected scholar but he's also a humble, kind man with a big heart. As (shamelessly) geeky as it is, I think of him as the Gandalf to my Frodo or the Dumbledore to my Harry, and while I am so excited start a doctoral program in the fall (pending funding), I am also really really sad that John won't be my supervisor anymore. He's played a huge role in my positive experience at SFU, which has become my home away from home over the last five, nearly six years. TL;DR: John is just one of the best human beings I know

Recent Blog Posts

  • Cristina Eftenaru June 12, 2020
    Meet Education EdD graduate, Cristina Eftenaru.

  • Muhammad Asadullah June 09, 2020
    Meet Criminology PhD graduate, Dr. Muhammad Asadullah.

  • Lydia Odilinye June 09, 2020
    Meet Computing Science PhD graduate, Lydia Odilinye.

View Posts by Category