Awards and Distinctions

Distinguished University Professor

The Distinguished University Professor is a select group of faculty members recognized for exceptional scholarly careers. The award acknowledges sustained excellence in scholarship over a substantial career at Western. The award includes a citation, the right to use the title, an opportunity for a public lecture and a $10,000 prize to be used for scholarly activity at any time.

2011: Robert Stainton; Philosophy, Linguistics

Faculty Scholars Award

The Faculty Scholars Award recognize the significant achievements in teaching or research. The recipients are considered all-around scholars and will hold the title of Faculty Scholar for two years and receive $7,000 each year for scholarly activities.

2020: Chris Smeenk; Philosophy
2018: Corey Dyck; Philosophy
2016: Carolyn McLeod; Philosophy
2011: Tracy Isaacs; Philosophy, Women's Studies and Feminist Research
2009: Helen Fielding; Philosophy, Women's Studies and Feminist Research

Governor General's Academic Medals: Gold Medal Recipients

Lord Dufferin, Canada’s third Governor General after Confederation, created the Academic Medals in 1873 to encourage academic excellence across the nation. Over the years, they have become the most prestigious award that students in Canadian schools can receive.

For nearly 150 years, the Governor General’s Academic Medals have recognized the outstanding scholastic achievements of students in Canada. They are awarded to the student graduating with the highest average from a high school, as well as from approved college or university programs. Pierre Trudeau, Tommy Douglas, Kim Campbell, Robert Bourassa, Robert Stanfield and Gabrielle Roy are just some of the more than 50,000 people who have received the Governor General’s Academic Medal as the start of a life of accomplishment.

2021: Heather Stewart; Philosophy

Stewart completed her PhD in the department of philosophy in July 2021, during which she held the Barnard Scholarship in Political Philosophy. Her work primarily focuses on the moral, social and political implications of speech and language, and the ways in which our linguistic practices can reinforce stereotypes, biases and oppression more generally. In her dissertation, she defended a novel approach to understanding one particular oppressive speech phenomenon – that of microaggressions – and analyzed their serious moral implications across various applied contexts, including in the medical and academic contexts. Read more here.

Graham and Gale Wright Distinguished Scholar 

This Faculty-based award recognizes the prominent contributions as internationally-recognized researchers in their field. Appointments to the Graham and Gale Wright Distinguished Scholar Fellowship are for a one-year period and will provide faculty members with one half-course teaching relief, allowing them to focus on research.

2022: Jackie Sullivan
2021: Angela Mendelovici
2019: Anthony Skelton; Philosophy
2017: Wayne Myrvold; Philosophy
2015: Corey Dyck; Philosophy
2011: Carolyn McLeod; Philosophy
2009: Robert DiSalle; Philosophy
2008: Lorne Falkenstein; Philosophy
2006: John Bell; Philosophy

Hellmuth Prize for Achievement in Research

The Hellmuth Prizes for Achievement in Research provide a way for all members of the Western community to appreciate and celebrate research achievement of our most distinguished faculty members. The honour recognizes faculty members with outstanding international reputations for their contributions in research – one of the defining hallmarks of a university. Two prizes are offered annually, one in the area broadly defined as the natural sciences and engineering, one in the social sciences and humanities.

2014: Charles Weijer; Philosophy, Schulich School of Medicine
1998: Tom Lennon; Philosophy

Killam Research Fellowship

The Killam Research Fellowships are release time awards that provide support to scholars of exceptional ability who are engaged in research projects of broad significance and widespread interest within the disciplines of the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences, engineering, or studies linking any of these disciplines.

2008: William Demopoulos 

Royal Society of Canada

Founded in 1882, the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) comprises the Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada. Its mission is to recognize scholarly, research and artistic excellence, to advise governments and organizations, and to promote a culture of knowledge and innovation in Canada and with other national academies around the world. RSC Fellows are elected by their peers in recognition of outstanding scholarly, scientific and artistic achievement. RSC College of New Scholars, Artists & Scientists is a multidisciplinary recognition presented to the emerging generation of Canadian intellectual leadership. 

2021: Carolyn McLeod; Philosophy

Carolyn McLeod is a leading Canadian scholar in bioethics and feminist philosophy. She is known worldwide for her research on ethical issues in reproductive health care, and her work on the ethics of parenthood and adoption, and key concepts in moral philosophy such as trust and autonomy. She has contributed directly to the creation of public policies affecting prospective parents in Canada. Read more here

2016: Charles Weijer; Philosophy, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry

Charles Weijer is the world authority on the ethics of randomized controlled trials. His publications on placebos, harm-benefit analysis, and protecting communities in research are broadly influential. He co-led a team that produced the first ethical guidelines for cluster-randomized trials. In 2008, he founded the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, dedicated to engagement between philosophers and scientists, and served as its first director. Read more here.

2012: Robert Stainton; Philosophy, Linguistics

Robert Stainton's research lies at the intersection of philosophy and linguistics. Trained in functional linguistics at Glendon College (BA’88) and in generative grammar at MIT (Ph.D.’93), most recently he has contributed to team projects on the history of philosophy of language, and on impairments in linguistic pragmatics in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Read more here.

2009: John Bell; Philosophy

John Bell, a professor of logic and philosophy of mathematics, was named the first (2006-07) Graham and Gail Wright Faculty of Arts Distinguished Scholar at the university. Prior to coming to Western in 1989, his teaching and research appointments included the London School of Economics, the Polish Academy of Sciences, the National University of Singapore and the University of Padova. Bell’s research interests include mathematical logic, philosophy of mathematics, set theory, Boolean algebras, lattice theory, and category theory. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Mathematics at Western. Read more here.

2004: Tom Lennon; Philosophy

Vanier Scholars

Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship recipients are selected based on leadership skills and high standard of scholarly achievement in the social sciences, humanities, natural sciences, engineering and/or health sciences. Each scholar receives $50,000 annually for up to three years.

2020: Jess du Toit; PhD in Philosophy; Human Vulnerability and Medical Ethics: Towards Proper Protections For All Vulnerable Research Participants


The protection of vulnerable research participants is a central tenet of human research ethics. Despite this fact, we lack a thorough understanding of what makes certain human participants vulnerable.

This has serious practical implications. Without this understanding, we are unable to identify all of those needing special protections. Thus, we run the risk of exploiting many vulnerable research participants.

Terrible in and of itself, this could also lead to an erosion of public trust in the research enterprise, and the ultimate demise of human participants research.

To avoid these prospects, Jessica du Toit will focus on the concept of vulnerability. She will consider three questions: What does vulnerability mean for human participants research? Who is deemed vulnerable? What special protections are owed to vulnerable research participants?

She will develop, test and refine conceptual conclusions, as well as develop knowledge translation materials so her work can be used to better protect vulnerable research participants.

2013: Andrew Peterson; Philosophy, Rotman Institute of Philosophy

By building bridges between the humanities and sciences, Andrew Peterson hopes to address pressing conceptual problems head on. A member of both the Rotman Institute of Philosophy and the Brain and Mind Institute, Peterson analyzes the ethical and epistemological problems related to the use of brain-computer interfaces in patients with acquired brain injuries.

"Questions regarding the verification of decision-making capacity in this patient group, assessment of a patient’s ability to experience pain and the disclosure of diagnostic information to patients’ families have presented difficult conceptual challenges for scientists working in this field,” he said.

The belief is solutions to these issues not only require the historical strengths of philosophy in identifying and clarifying important questions, but also an understanding how the problems arise in the course of scientific practice. The goal is that novel solutions will be produced that have a direct and measurable impact on the lives of brain injured patients and their families.