Dr. Robert (Bob) G. Clark
Distinguished Graduate Supervisor Award - Fall 2011
Robert G. Clark joined the University of Saskatchewan as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biology in 1987. Despite his demanding job as a Research Scientist with Environment Canada, he excels in his role as a supervisor to both graduate and undergraduate students. Dr. Clark’s record as a supervisor includes 25 past graduate students (18 M.Sc., seven Ph.D.) and five postdoctoral fellows, as well as three M.Sc. and five Ph.D. students who are currently working under his guidance. Dr. Clark also identifies promising undergraduate students and supervises their independent research projects; most of these continue on to undertake graduate studies in ecology. But Dr. Clark’s legacy as a supervisor is reflected in the quality of his supervision skills rather than the quantity of students he has graduated. Indeed, all of the 35 mentees contacted were enthusiastically supportive of the nomination of Dr. Clark for the Distinguished Graduate Supervisor Award.
Dr. Clark motivates his students to succeedby leading by example. By asking interesting scientific questions, using novel research methods, working long hours and being highly productive himself, Dr. Clark motivates his students to do the same. He encourages students to investigate topics they are passionate about and guides them to discover answers to their own questions. Dr. Clark believes that part of his job is to help his graduate students find interesting and fulfilling employment after completing their studies, and his former students have gone on to productive careers in a wide variety of organizations (academic, government, industry and non-government). Furthermore, after leaving Dr. Clark’s lab, many continue to contribute to science by publishing in peer-reviewed journals (at least 200 papers published by former students).
Dr. Clark’s reputation as an outstanding supervisor and mentor extends throughout the ecological research community. He has an “open-door” policy which gives students the opportunity to maintain momentum and produce high-quality work. Dr. Clark also integrates his students into his family circle; they are frequently invited to gatherings at his home and former students often stay with Dr. Clark’s family when they return to Saskatoon to visit. Not only does Dr. Clark guide his students towards academic and professional achievements, he stresses the importance of finding a healthy life-work balance.
Dr. Clark’s passion for science and life is contagious. He has a strong positive influence on the lives of his students, pushing them to perform at the highest level and encouraging them to achieve their professional and personal goals. In the words of one of Dr. Clark's former students “he is the best supervisor one could hope for: supportive, caring, thoughtful, driven, enthusiastic, and an excellent teacher and research scientist.”