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CAUT Bulletin Archives

December 2001

The 2001 Sarah Shorten Award

Internationally recognized biosafety expert Margaret-Ann Armour, cited as a "superb role model for women in science," was awarded the 2001 Sarah Shorten Award at the CAUT Council meeting in November.

The University of Alberta scientist, who was nominated by CAUT's Status of Women Committee, has dedicated her career to advocating for women in science.

Dr. Armour is a founding member of WISEST (Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science & Technology), a mentoring program for the promotion of science, and over the years she has received numerous awards and citations, including a 1990 YWCA Tribute to Women Award, the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal, the 1994 McNeil medal of the Royal Society of Canada, and in 1996 was the recipient of a 3M teaching award.

SWC chair Edith Zorychta said Dr. Armour has given more than 40 talks aimed at encouraging women into science, particularly in the fields of chemistry and engineering, where women have long been under-represented.

In 1970, Dr. Armour graduated with a PhD in organic chemistry and "set out in what was, at the time, a non-traditional career for women," Zorychta said. "For many years she was the only woman in her department."

According to faculty colleagues, Dr. Armour has contributed in a major way over many years to the furtherance of women in universities and worked tirelessly in her local academic staff association.

"Margaret-Ann has been a member of and/or chaired all of the major committees in the university engaged in equity issues," said Margaret Haughey, chair of the University of Alberta's Association of Academic Staff Equity Committee.

"As well as being instrumental in securing campus daycare, Dr. Armour has served on the AASUA Women's Issues Committee, Executive, Council, and Employment Equity Committee. She has also served on the Women's Studies Advisory Committee and the Academic Women's Association."

Numerous testimonials from Dr. Armour's students reveal she was a pivotal force in their decisions to pursue a career in science.

According to Brianne Hudson, a third-year science major at the University of Alberta, who first met Dr. Armour at a high school science conference sponsored by WISEST, "I was fascinated. Dr. Armour had everything: bananas frozen with liquid nitrogen, orange peel rinds that could dissolve Styrofoam. That day, science became something more than thermometers and salt solutions; it became something I could identify with."

In summing up Dr. Armour's distinguished career as an advocate for women, Zorychta said Dr. Armour's advocacy, outreach, teaching and activism helped open doors for generations of women and "demonstrate the outstanding quality of contributions established in the criteria of the Sarah Shorten Award."