Terms of Reference (TOR)

Timothy R. Parsons Medal for Excellence in Multidisciplinary Ocean Science

1.0 Purpose

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has established an award for excellence in Canadian ocean sciences. The award is named in honour of Dr. Timothy R. Parsons, in recognition of his distinguished career as a Fisheries Research Board researcher, university professor and broadly read author.

2.0 Background

Throughout his career Dr. Parsons has devoted himself to obtaining a holistic understanding of ecology. He has always been a proponent of ensuring close links between fisheries science and oceanography, and has repeatedly pointed out how the ever-changing environment of the oceans impacts fisheries. His lifetime work has been to establish a new ecosystem approach for the management of fisheries based on the measurement of oceanographic information and the dynamic relationships between fish and their physical, chemical and biological environment.

Dr. Parsons was the founding editor of the journal "Fisheries Oceanography" and has made major contributions to the development of Biological Oceanography. Dr. Parsons has also worked to encourage a holistic approach to the evaluation of human impacts on the environment using his experience in biological oceanography. He is personally responsible for many of the standard analytical methods used in his field.

Dr. Parsons was the recipient of the 17th Japan Prize for Marine Biology, awarded by the Emperor of Japan and received the Order of Canada in 2005. His memoirs, published in 2004, are entitled "The Sea's Enthrall".

3.0 Criteria

The Timothy R. Parsons Medal is:

  • awarded for distinguished accomplishments in multidisciplinary facets of ocean sciences while working for Canadian Institutions or for the benefit of Canadian science
  • awarded for excellence during the lifetime of the recipient or for a recent outstanding achievement, both being equally eligible
  • no posthumous nominations are considered

Candidates will be evaluated on their qualifications in at least several of the following five categories:

  • Significant contributions to multidisciplinary facets of ocean sciences
  • Contribution of significant ideas
  • Impact on Canadian Marine Science (see note)
  • Leadership through teaching/mentoring
  • Program, disciplinary and interdisciplinary activities (to include "outreach" activities)

Note: Impact on Canadian Marine Science. This category needs to make an assessment of the candidate's impact on Canadian marine Science as follows:

  • Recognition of scientific accomplishment; and
  • Impact and/or influence of scientific work.

The category shall be described through (i) Peer reviewed publications, (ii) Technical reports; and (iii) Advice to managers.

4.0 Nominations

Nominations for the Timothy R. Parsons Medal may be made by any Canadian.

The Nomination package shall include:

  • A well supported candidate's curriculum vitae/resume
  • A comprehensive record of publications, awards, and grant awards. It is also important that the nomination identify teaching and faculty positions held and the number of graduate students being supervised
  • A concise, comprehensive statement indicating the merits and contribution made by the nominee to multidisciplinary ocean science. (The statement shall be supported by references to significant contributions, ideas, publications, teaching activities and program leadership)
  • A summary of the accomplishments of the individual and a statement indicating how these accomplishments were connected with the progress of multidisciplinary ocean science
  • Letters of support
  • All nominations shall be received no later than March 31. 2017.

Note: The selection of a candidate as award recipient shall be based upon the information presented in the nomination package.

Nominations shall be sent to:

Timothy R. Parsons Medal Committee
Strategic Planning and Outreach
12E235A-200 Kent Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0E6

Fax: (613) 990-0313
Email: sciencebulletin@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Nominations which did not result in an award will be considered in subsequent years with the nominator's consent, unless disqualified. The nominator is encouraged to update the nomination package.

Candidates disqualified for not meeting the criteria will not be considered in subsequent years, unless:

  • the nominator presents information to overturn the disqualification
  • the circumstances disqualifying the candidate have changed, enabling the candidate to meet the criteria

5.0 Parsons Medal Adjudication Committee (Parsons Committee)

5.1 Composition of the Parsons Committee
  • The Committee shall have a balanced membership to remove any undue bias as a result of committee membership having knowledge of a candidate or the knowledge of the discipline
  • The DFO Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) Oceans and Science will chair the committee. The committee will also include a Secretariat for administration and logistics matters. The immediate past Parsons Medal recipient will serve on the committee. If the immediate past recipient is unavailable, a former Parsons Medalist will be invited to serve
  • The remaining three term positions will be appointed by the ADM Oceans and Science. Ideally, these positions should be comprised of:
    • a DFO representative;
    • a representative of another governmental department or agency (OGD); and
    • a representative of a non-governmental organization (NGO) such as a university or the private sector.
  • Members of the Committee should not be involved with the nomination of any candidate (new or returning) during their membership on the Committee and for at least 1 year after leaving the Committee
  • A sample Committee Membership could be as follows:
    • DFO ADM Oceans and Science
    • Past Parson's Medal Recipient
    • DFO Rep
    • OGD representative (i.e. NRCan)
    • NGO representative (i.e. University of Victoria)
    • Secretariat
5.2 The Desirable Qualifications and Objectives for the Three Term Positions
  • a scientist presently or previously employed conducting research in Canada or for Canada
  • renowned expertise, experience, and leadership in fisheries or ocean sciences, or allied fields; preferably with interdisciplinary expertise
  • capable of evaluating the candidates against the five categories of qualification
  • an effort will be made to balance committee expertise to include the following disciplines: physical, chemical, and geological oceanography and geophysics, marine and freshwater biology, biological oceanography, fisheries management and ecosystems science. If a balance is not possible in the same year, then an attempt will be made over succeeding years by alternating fields of expertise as new members rotate onto the committee
5.3 Rotation of the Three Term Positions
  • The members in these three positions will serve staggered terms of three years, if possible, to ensure and maximize continuity on the committee. The aim is to have each year's committee comprised of one of these three members serving for a first year, one for a second year and one for a third year on the committee
5.4 Annual Parsons Committee Meeting
  • The committee will aim to meet during the first week of April each year, at DFO headquarters, in Ottawa
  • Conflict of interest guidelines will be discussed at the start of the adjudication committee meeting. Committee members will be asked to self-declare if they have a conflict of interest in judging any candidate
  • Travel is provided for members of the Parsons Committee members to attend the adjudication committee meeting, as per Treasury Board guidelines
  • In the event of an inability on the part of the committee to decide among candidates, the ADM will make the final decision as to whether to present the award that year and, if so, to whom it will go (there will be one winner only)

6.0 Announcement of the Medalist and Presentation of the Parsons Medal

  • The announcement of the Parsons Medalist is made at the Parsons/Patterson Luncheon. The ADM Oceans and Science (Chair of the Parsons Committee) or a designated representative will award the medal and a commemorative plaque to the recipient
  • The luncheon is scheduled during the annual congress of the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS), which is routinely held during the last week of May or the first week of June each year
  • Travel to the meeting (airfare, hotel, and per diems, as per Treasury Board guidelines), and a ticket for the Parsons/Patterson luncheon are provided to the medalist. A luncheon ticket may also be provided to a partner accompanying the medalist
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