Faculty Profile: Dr. Ron Wakkary

June 20, 2017

We're delighted to profile the winners of the 2017 Dean's Awards for Excellence in Graduate Studies. Dr. Ron Wakkary received an award for Excellence in Graduate Student Supervision.

When it comes to graduate supervision, Dr. Ron Wakkary goes above and beyond the expectations for support. He has made himself available to all his students within his innovative Everyday Design Studio. To facilitate a creative and collaborative environment, Dr. Wakkary has forgone his own office space out of preference for sitting with his graduate students.

Dr. Audrey Desjardins, former graduate student, now Assistant Professor at the University of Washington, explains, “The Everyday Design Studio is set up as one studio with one large table in the center of the room, with all the graduate students working around that table. Ron does not have a personal office, rather he sits with us in the studio. This layout is meant to encourage collaboration, discussion, and casual interactions between all the students and Ron.”

This arrangement has received much praise. “Not only does this social configuration afford a close and strong working relationship between supervisor and graduate student, it generates a critical and collaborative culture among all graduate students inhabiting this space,” says Everyday Design Studio co-director Dr. William Odom. “Through this approach, he is able to create a culture of open communication, hands-on collaboration, and critical reflection.”

It has also seen much success, as the open office space allows Dr. Wakkary to hold frequent group meetings with his graduate students where they can each discuss what they have been working on. This allows students to give and receive feedback, as well as share ideas with one another and explore different perspectives. As one of his current graduate students says, “[Dr. Wakkary's] accessible, open personality makes him an exemplary supervisor”.

It is clear that Dr. Wakkary cares aboute engaging with his students. He says, “I’ve very rarely seen graduate supervision as a task or a job. Rather it has been a daily opportunity to intellectually and socially engage with a very select group of talented individuals.” Dr. Wakkary has published over 75 articles with his students, the majority of which are first authored by the students themselves. Many of his former graduate students now hold prestigious positions at universities across Canada, the United States, and Europe.

In addition to supervising graduates, Dr. Wakkary is also the Director of the Interaction Design Research Centre in FCAT, and is a Design United Visiting Professor in Industrial Design at Eindhoven University in Technology.


The 2018 Dean of Graduate Studies Awards for Excellence are open for nominations. Deadline for nominations is March 15, 2018.

Recent Blog Posts

  • Science Communication Fellowship in Vienna, Austria November 17, 2017
    The Summer 2018 Science Communication Fellowship runs May 28 to August 31 in Vienna, Austria and is open to graduate students with a previous degree in science or journalism. Travel costs will be covered, along with a Euro 4000 stipend. Apply by January 11, 2018.

  • External Award: Wayne Vucinich Postdoctoral Fellowship at Stanford University November 17, 2017
    The Wayne Vucinich Fellowship, through the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (CREEES) at Stanford University, is a 12-week residential fellowship to be offered from April-June 2018. It is open to scholars of any discipline and funds international travel, health insurance, and a visa, in addition to a $12,000 stipend for living expenses. Apply by January 10, 2018.

  • Job Posting: Parks Canada Youth Ambassador November 16, 2017
    Parks Canada is seeking current university students for a summer Youth Ambassador position in Gatineau, Quebec. Apply by November 24, 2017.

View Posts by Category