Faculty and Staff
Catherine D’Andrea and Carl Lowenberger receive the 2019 Chris Dagg Award for International Impact
By Emma Keeler-Dugas
Exceptional community-centred archaeological work in Africa and international collaboration on insect-borne diseases have earned Simon Fraser University professors Catherine D’Andrea and Carl Lowenberger the 2019 Chris Dagg Award for International Impact.
“For a number of years, these inspiring SFU faculty members have engaged in international collaborations, working with partners, students and communities for positive impact and social good,” says Joy Johnson, SFU’s vice-president, research and international.
The annual award recognizes and celebrates the achievements of SFU staff or faculty members who have made a profound contribution to sustainable international development on behalf of the university.
The award honours the legacy of the late Chris Dagg. An exemplary internationalist, he was especially valued at SFU where—for 30 years—he held a range of key international cooperation posts that included directing major projects in China and Indonesia.
Archaeology professor Catherine D’Andrea has worked in Ethiopia since 1992, researching environmental archaeology, traditional agricultural knowledge, early agriculture and the rise of complex societies.
“It is truly an honour to receive this award, which also belongs to the SFU-based research group I have had the pleasure to work with over the years,” says D’Andrea. “This includes Canadian and international colleagues and, in particular, graduate students who have gone the extra mile to ensure we have had positive impacts on archaeological research and supporting community goals. International collaboration has formed the cornerstone of our approach to interdisciplinary research and community service.”
Throughout D’Andrea’s career, she and her students have supported capacity-building for African universities and cultural heritage institutions. They have donated books and equipment, provided archaeological training for university staff, helped develop archaeological curriculum, and offered employment opportunities in rural communities.
“As I look back over the years, I cannot imagine achieving what we have in any place other than SFU, where international, community-engaged research is encouraged and carefully nurtured,” says D’Andrea.
Biological sciences professor Lowenberger has worked on the international scene since the mid 1980s, collaborating with research scientists to study the innate immune system of insects that spread diseases to humans. He seeks to understand how they recognize pathogens and what pathways they use to eliminate them. Lowenberger suggests that If we could persuade all insects to kill these pathogens we could eliminate some diseases.
“The award recognizes the efforts we have made over the years to understand the dynamics of how mosquitos transmit disease to humans,” says Lowenberger. “Because these diseases do not exist in Canada, we work in lab settings and then test our hypothesis in the field with researchers in countries where these diseases are endemic. The award reflects that the committee and our peers recognize the importance of these efforts.”
His more recent projects have identified mechanisms that can be manipulated in insects to reduce how easily mosquitos can transmit viruses—such as Dengue and Zika—to humans.
“SFU and the Canada Research Chair program have allowed me the time and lab space to carry out these research interests both here and abroad,” he says. “We have used programs such as MITACS, ELAP and LACREG to generate the funds to bring students and eminent scientists from endemic countries to SFU for training and joint exercises that benefit all parties.”