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Setting an example

Geographer recognized for exceptional ethical research leadership


By Jeff Green

A member of the Memorial community has received an institutional honour for research excellence.

Wearing a black shirt and a black vest, Dr. Max Liboiron stands with arms folded.
Dr. Max Liboiron
Photo: Submitted

Dr. Max Liboiron, associate professor, Department of Geography, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, is the latest recipient of the Marilyn Harvey Award to Recognize the Importance of Research Ethics.

A leading figure in feminist science studies and Indigenous science and technology, Dr. Liboiron is respected for the way they conduct ethical research.

As an internationally renowned Métis/Michif scholar, Dr. Liboiron uses a range of ethically informed approaches, including anti-colonial, social justice-based methods, that are impacting the way research is conducted.

Demonstrated contributions

Named for a research nurse who brought forward her concerns regarding research ethics to senior administrators at Memorial, the Marilyn Harvey Award to Recognize the Importance of Research Ethics is presented to a student, staff or faculty member, retiree or alumni who has distinguished themselves by their actions and contributions to scholarly research and embodies the institution’s commitment to excellence in research ethics.

“The Department of Geography has been a particularly fertile place to conduct research and practices around ethics.” — Dr. Max Liboiron

These efforts may take the form of service (past or present) to ethics committees (locally, nationally or internationally), mentorship of colleagues or students on matters related to research ethics or other demonstrated contributions or achievements associated with research ethics.

Ethical contributions

“Dr. Max Liboiron’s deep personal and professional commitment to the highest standards of research ethics is inspiring,” said Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research).

“Dr. Liboiron leads by example and is recognized nationally and internationally as a champion of ethical research, stellar engagement with research and community partners and exceptional student mentorship. Big congratulations to Dr. Liboiron on receiving this deserving honour.”

Specialized research

Dr. Liboiron is director of the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research, a feminist, anti-colonial, marine science laboratory.

At its core are the values of humility, equity and good land relations.

They work collaboratively with community members, such as the Nunatsiavut Government, on microplastic research and has invented two affordable open-source microplastic water trawls, demonstrating a commitment to ethical and accessible technology.

“I have been greatly influenced through Dr. Liboiron’s strategic, creative, and far-reaching approach to research ethics.” — Alex Zahara

The author of the critically-acclaimed Pollution is Colonialism, Dr. Liboiron is an avid proponent and user of Indigenous data sovereignty frameworks that ensure data is owned and controlled by the Indigenous Peoples it impacts, and has developed protocols for community peer review of research.

Dr. Liboiron has produced research and protocols that weave anti-oppressive facilitation and equity into laboratory culture, including a published “equity in author order” protocol.

Together with Couple3 Films, they have created a series of short documentaries on the ethics that guide equitable lab meetings and consensus-based decision-making in research spaces.

They are also a leading authority in the field of discard studies, which specializes in theorizing concepts of waste, discard and pollution specifically as they relate to justice and ethics.

“It’s a great honour to receive this award, particularly because the nomination is done completely by colleagues and in this case a mentee,” said Dr. Liboiron, who was elected a member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists in September 2021.

“The Department of Geography has been a particularly fertile place to conduct research and practices around ethics because it’s valued as a form of expertise rather than merely service, so I’d like to thank the department and the collective culture we create to support each other in this kind of labour.”

Dr. Liboiron’s ethical leadership is also having an impact on the next generation of researchers.

“I have been given the privilege and opportunity to be supervised by Dr. Liboiron in a number of capacities, and in each instance I have learned much about what it means, and what is required, to conduct ethical research,” Alex Zahara, PhD candidate, Department of Geography, said in a nomination letter.

“I have been greatly influenced through Dr. Liboiron’s strategic, creative and far-reaching approach to research ethics that bridges theoretical and technical expertise.”

June 1 deadline

Memorial welcomes nominations for the Marilyn Harvey Award to Recognize the Importance of Research Ethics.

Nomination packages must be submitted electronically by 5 p.m., on Wednesday, June 1.

Please contact your unit’s grants facilitator (or, if the unit has no grants facilitator, the person with signing authority for your unit) to confirm if there are earlier, internal deadlines. Internal deadlines must be factored into the timing of the development and submission of applications.

More details about the Marilyn Harvey Award to Recognize the Importance of Research Ethics, including its terms of reference, are available online.

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