Excellence in research is its own reward, but the MacEwan community takes great pride in acknowledging our researchers with the annual Distinguished Research Award. 

The deadline to nominate a distinguished researcher for the upcoming year is November 15, 2018.

Award Criteria


Sandy Jung

2018 Award Winner

After conducting research at Edmonton Police Services for close to a year, Sandy is looking forward to using her findings in both community and classroom. "It's important for students to understand that the things they are learning are backed by science," says this 2018 Distinguished Research Award winner.

2017 Award Winner

Shelley's research portfolio spans the research spectrum, addressing her interests in climate change, citizen engagement and digital media. Her work earned her the 2017 Distinguished Research Award.

Shelley Boulianne Photo


Past recipients

Shelley Boulianne, 2017

Associate Professor, Sociology

PhD (Wisconsin-Madison), MA (Alberta), BA (Alberta)

6-394, City Centre Campus
10700 – 104 Avenue
Edmonton, AB

Dr. Shelley Boulianne pursues several streams of research related to engagement in civic and political life. First, she studies the impact of digital media on democratic practices. She has published two meta-analysis pieces on this topic, a literature synthesis and two studies using longitudinal data and experiments to examine the effects of news media on political interest, political talk, signing petitions, boycotting, and voting. A second stream of research involves studying citizens' engagement in deliberative events. This research explores who participates in these types of events and how participation in these events affects citizens' sense of political trust, political efficacy, policy preferences, civic skills, and future engagement in civic and political life. A final stream of research examines generational shifts in community attachment and social capital and its impact on patterns of civic and political engagement. 

Dr. Boulianne is also interested in understanding why people participate in public opinion surveys and how this participation can be increased. She has studied the effects of incentives, sponsorship, and reminders in increasing response rates to web surveys. This research has been published in several peer-reviewed articles.

Robert Hilts, 2016

Associate Professor, Chemistry

PhD (Victoria)

5-123, City Centre Campus
10700 – 104 Avenue
Edmonton, AB

Dr. Robert Hilts obtained his PhD in inorganic chemistry from the University of Victoria in the Fall of 1988. He worked as a post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Martin Cowie at the University of Alberta from 1988 to 1991 on bisphosphine complexes of transition-metals. Subsequently, from 1991 to 1995, he conducted research on PNS rings systems with Dr. Tris Chivers at the University of Calgary. After teaching first-year chemistry at Red Deer College from 1995 to 1996, he joined the instructor ranks at Grant MacEwan Community College in the Fall of 1996, and he has been teaching and conducting research at MacEwan ever since.

Dr. Hilts is currently involved in a collaborative analysis of the Tagish Lake meteorite, which is presently housed in a cold curation and handling facility at the U of A. The goal of the research on the meteorite is to shed light on the conditions that existed very shortly after our solar system was formed and provide some insight into how life began on the Earth some 3.5 billion years ago.

Allan Gilliland, 2015

Assistant Professor, Department of Music
Head, Composition
Dean, Faculty of Fine Arts and Communications

PhD (Edinburgh)

11-413A, Allard Hall
11110 – 104 Avenue
Edmonton, AB

Dr. Gilliland is one of Canada’s busiest composers. He has written music for solo instruments, orchestra, choir, brass quintet, wind ensemble, big band, film, television and theatre. His music has been performed by ensembles and soloists from around the world and recorded on over 20 CDs.

From 1999‐2004, Gilliland was composer-in-residence with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. He has also been composer-in-residence at the Festival of the Sound in Parry Sound, the Colours of Music Festival in Barrie, Ontario and the Strata New Music Festival in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. In 2002, his orchestral work On the Shoulders of Giants took first prize at the prestigious Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s Centara New Music Festival Composers Competition. In 2012, his CD O Music was nominated for two Western Canadian Music Awards and won for Best Classical Composition. Allan has also won composition contests sponsored by Pro Coro Canada and the Alberta Band Association as well as first place in the Jean Coulthard Competition for Composers and the Lydia Pals Composers Competition.

Gilliland holds a diploma in Jazz Studies (trumpet) from Humber College, a Bachelor of Music degree in performance and a Master of Music degree in composition from the University of Alberta and a PhD in Composition from the University of Edinburgh. He has taught at the University of Alberta, the University of Edinburgh, Red Deer College and MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta , Canada where he is currently the Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts and Communications.


Distinguished Research Award

Through the Dr. Sherrill Brown Distinguished Research Award, we recognize faculty members, both individuals and teams, who have made notable contributions to research at MacEwan University. If you know someone who deserves to be recognized for excellence in research, consider nominating them for this important award.

Nomination criteria and form

Any member of the MacEwan community can nominate a tenured or tenure track faculty member for the Distinguished Research Award.

The nominee must have a sustained record of peer-reviewed publications, creative/artistic work or leadership in undergraduate research. If the faculty member is a new investigator, research achievements of significant impact will be considered. The nominee cannot be a member of the Distinguished Research Award Selection Committee or the Research Council in the year they are nominated.

If you would like to nominate someone, read the policy that governs the award to ensure the faculty member you nominate is eligible. Complete the nomination form and submit it to the Office of Research Services by the deadline. Ask the referees to submit their letters of support to the Office of Research Services.  

Distinguished Research Award policy

Nomination form

Nomination approval

The Associate Vice President, Research and Teaching reviews the nomination package to ensure the nominee meets all criteria.

Instructions and dossier guidelines for nominees 

If you are nominated for a Distinguished Research Award and meet the eligibility criteria, the Associate Vice President, Research and Teaching lets you know about the nomination and asks you if you’d like to accept it.

If you accept your nomination, you need to submit a research dossier to Research Services by January 15. The Associate Vice President, Research and Teaching forwards your completed dossier to the Distinguished Research Award selection committee.

Dossier guidelines

Recipient selection

The Distinguished Research Award Selection Committee, which is a subcommittee of Research Council, uses a two-step review process to determine award recipients. In the first step, each member of the committee reviews your research dossier and the letters provided in the nomination package independently. In the second step, the committee convenes as a whole to discuss members’ independent assessments and to work toward consensus until one nominee is unanimously agreed upon.

The Committee makes its recommendation to the Provost by February 15, who confirms the award recipient and notifies the successful candidate.

Selection committee terms of reference

Award presentation

The award is presented at spring convocation.

Award namesake

For 20 years, Dr. Sherrill J. Brown taught in the Early Learning and Child Care program at MacEwan University. As well as bringing her passion for children and education to her students, she worked in the community, supporting young children and their families across the province. She was instrumental in developing Alberta’s accreditation model for child care in 2005.

From 2006 to 2009, as MacEwan’s Research Officer, Sherrill supported faculty across all programs in their research efforts. Her own research focused on the early childhood community. She was particularly interested in the connection between play and learning and literacy, the role of empathy in children’s development and developing a cross-disciplinary model for play.

The inaugural Sherrill Brown Distinguished Research Award was presented in 2015.