Thompson Rivers University

Awards recognize outstanding research mentorship

  Posted on: April 4, 2019

Dr. Lisa Bourque Bearskin, associate professor, nursing.

Mentors have the capacity to shift the way we think, to empower us to think for ourselves, and to encourage boldness and a thirst for discovery.

That’s why each year TRU celebrates its outstanding undergraduate research mentors — faculty who have left an indelible mark on the students with whom they interact.

Dr. Wendy Hulko, associate professor, social work.

This year, Dr. Wendy Hulko and Dr. Lisa Bourque Bearskin were nominated by their colleagues and students, and received the 2019 Undergraduate Research Mentor Awards during the 14th annual Undergraduate Research and Innovation Conference. The awards celebrate those who help undergraduate students explore, inquire and engage in new knowledge creation by providing meaningful guidance and support.

Hulko, Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work, has undertaken several research projects that contribute to our understanding of aging, specifically as it relates to marginalized groups and those living in small cities. Hulko received TRU Excellence in Scholarship award in 2016. She has extensive experience mentoring undergraduate students and providing meaningful learning opportunities for them within her ongoing research programs.

“Wendy was able to make research interesting and tangible — something that could be participated in, rather than simply taught or learned about. She is absolutely the reason that I participated in research, and she is also the reason I hope to have the opportunity to support or conduct research again in the future,” wrote undergraduate researcher Tamara Lawrence.

Receiving this award was validating, said Hulko.

“I love research, and I love teaching other people how to do research, and I see research as a tool for social change,” she said. “Getting students to understand that research is something that can benefit themselves as citizens and social workers, while also learning about how to do research in a way that avoids past harms is important, and it works toward reducing those power differentials.”

Bourque Bearskin, Associate Professor in the School of Nursing, is nationally recognized for her contributions to Indigenous health research. Her research focuses on dismantling colonial healthcare systems and structures so that traditional knowledge can contribute to improved Indigenous health. 

“The main and most important indicator of my contributions is the fact that I’m mentoring students to do research,” she said. “Being able to create a supporting environment so students can look at the Indigenous health research agenda with a critical lens is my reward.”

And the impact of her contributions on students have been significant.

“In working with Lisa I was able to find my own Indigenous voice within research circles and academia. I have since been published in two Indigenous academic journals, and am planning on pursuing graduate level education,” wrote Janna Wale, a fourth year Natural Resource Science student.

“I am forever grateful for the time, dedication and invaluable mentorship that Lisa has provided to myself and my colleague, always lifting us up and connecting us to community and culture,” wrote Dawn Tisdale, Lead Facilitator, San’yas: Indigenous Cultural Safety Traning Program, Provincial Health Services Society.