Professor Katherine Lippel Wins SSHRC Gold Medal!

Posted on Friday, September 15, 2017

Professor Katherine Lippel has been awarded the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Gold Medal, the Council’s highest research honour recognizing “sustained leadership, dedication and originality of thought.” Professor Lippel is known worldwide for her pioneering work on occupational health and safety law.

Specifically, the Gold Medal honours researchers who “have significantly advanced understanding in their research fields in the social sciences and humanities. The exceptional quality of their research, the impact of their work, and their ongoing efforts to share the results of this work must have greatly enriched Canadian society, and contributed to social, cultural, economic and intellectual life in Canada and/or internationally.” (SSHRC Impact Awards)

Professor Lippel, who holds the Canada Research Chair on Occupational Health and Safety Law, has worked for more than 30 years on a broad swath of issues affecting workers. Some of her most influential research focuses on the protection of mental health in the workplace, the importance of considering gender in occupational health and safety policies, and the recognition of the right to compensation for work-related cancers. She studies regulatory approaches around the world to see how they might or might not help improve the health and safety of workers.

Professor Lippel aims to “give a voice to people who don’t have a voice in order to influence public policy.” That includes marginalized and injured workers, as well as women in male-dominated fields. She would also like to further examine the plight of temporary workers and immigrants, who are often hired for the most dangerous jobs and are not properly protected. Over the past 15 to 20 years, Canada has seen an increase in certain categories of precarious employment which, she says, has undermined protections in employment legislation.

“I would like to retire knowing we’ve contributed to the prevention of the externalization of risk to the most vulnerable workers,” she says. It would indeed be a fitting way to cap a research career devoted to seeking equality in the workplace.

In addition to Professor Lippel’s Gold Medal, another uOttawa researcher, Lori Beaman, a professor in the Department of Classics and Religious Studies, has received the Insight Award for outstanding achievement stemming from a research project funded partially or completely by SSHRC. Her Religion and Diversity Project — a sweeping international study on issues relating to religious diversity — was launched in 2010.

“Katherine Lippel and Lori Beaman are at the forefront of research on critical questions of equality in today’s society,” said Sylvain Charbonneau, interim vice-president, research. “The University community applauds their stellar scholarship and leadership in key areas of public policy.”  Both Professor Lippel and Professor Beaman are members of the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics.

Katherine Lippel is the third University of Ottawa professor to have won the Gold Medal since its inception in 2003, following Shana Poplack in 2012 and Constance Backhouse in 2011.

Professor Lippel’s award will be presented at Rideau Hall on the evening of September 15, 2017.

Congratulations to Professor Lippel on this exceptional honour!

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