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Awards and recognition

SFU’s Newsmaker award winners grab headlines, spark conversations in 2021

February 24, 2022

The latest recipients of SFU’s annual Newsmaker awards have been selected for their significant achievements in informing media stories and commentary on a diversity of issues, from sexual misconduct in the military to pandemic restrictions, and ways to adopt healthier lifestyles.

SFU international studies professor, Megan Mackenzie, health sciences professors Scott Lear and Julianne Piper, and library communications officer Chloe Riley are being recognized for their contributions during 2021.

These awards pay tribute to the commitment of faculty and staff who help to advance knowledge on current issues by sharing their expertise through media, social media and strategic thinking.

Megan MacKenzie, Professor and Simons Chair in International Law and Human Security, School for International Studies—2021 SFU Media Newsmaker Award

MacKenzie receives the Media Newsmaker award for sharing her expertise as media covered the high-profile story of sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). She has studied military culture and gender integration in the military for more than a decade. Her commentary has been featured across Canadian and international media outlets resulting in more than 1,600 media mentions.

MacKenzie’s expertise also resulted in direct interactions with policymakers and leaders making key decisions to address sexual misconduct within the CAF.“I think academics have an essential role in helping the public understand the relevance and implications of a particular news story by providing a broader context, and helping to make complex issues and data accessible,” says MacKenzie.

Scott Lear, Professor and Pfizer/Heart & Stroke Foundation Chair in Cardiovascular Prevention Research, Faculty of Health Sciences—2021 SFU Social Media Newsmaker of the Year

Lear is recognized for making health sciences more accessible to a digitally-connected audience through extensive use of his blog, a consistent presence on various social media platforms and for being SFU’s top contributor of articles —with more than 20, including those translated in other languages, since 2018—to The Conversation Canada, an online news source featuring academic commentary.

Through his professional expertise and personal health experiences, Lear promotes physical activity, exercise, and nutrition and clarifies complex scientific research on these subjects. Through his strategic online presence, he has become a trusted voice on healthy living.

Julianne Piper, Research Fellow, Faculty of Health Sciences—2021 SFU Emerging Thought Leaders (ETL) Newsmaker of the Year

Since attending SFU’s Emerging Thought Leaders program, Piper has achieved significant media coverage linked to her pandemic-related research and expertise. As coordinator of SFU’s Pandemic and Borders project, her expertise on pandemic travel and border restrictions—an ongoing issue throughout 2021—drew more than 400 mentions, including such media outlets as Yahoo News, Healthline, CBC, CTV and Global News.

Chloe Riley, Library Communications Officer, SFU Library–2021 SFU Strategic Communicator of the Year

The strategic communicator of the year award celebrates SFU’s outstanding communicators who move institutional priorities forward by employing exceptional communications practices and tactics.

Riley is being recognized for her commitment to delivering outstanding student experiences, advancing reconciliation efforts, and creating a more equitable and inclusive university community. From launching the SFU Non-Fiction Writer in Residence program to maintaining the university’s central repository of equity, diversity, and inclusion resources, her efforts have significantly impacted her peers and the broader university community.

“As a white, queer, cis settler woman, I'm conscious of the individual and collective work in learning and unlearning that is needed for meaningful change within our communications practices and across SFU,” says Riley. “We have an ongoing responsibility as communicators to centre equity, justice, and decolonization in our work. Through our storytelling, programming, and other communications work, it makes us not only more inclusive, but also more thoughtful, creative and curious.”