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Postdocs “Inspired”, “Honoured” to be Part of SJU’s Scholarly Community

Postdocs “Inspired”, “Honoured” to be Part of SJU’s Scholarly Community

Date: Friday, October 01, 2021

Postdoctoral scholars provide significant contributions to research and discovery around the world while they continue their training as researchers and work with mentors, to gain skills and experience to prepare them for their academic career. While the majority of “postdocs” work in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), these positions are becoming increasingly more common in the social sciences and humanities. St. Jerome’s University is fortunate to have two postdoctoral fellows – Rhea Ashley Hoskin (AMTD Waterloo Global Talent Postdoctoral Fellow) and Matthew Wiseman (Banting Fellow). While different forms of support have brought them to SJU, these fellows share a common area of interest in their studies: women.


“SJU is fortunate to be currently hosting two talented postdoctoral scholars whose research agendas position them as emerging leaders in their respective fields,” noted SJU’s Vice President Academic and Dean, Carol Ann MacGregor. “We are pleased to share an update on the interesting work they are doing at SJU.”


Rhea Ashley Hoskin, PhD holds a PhD in Sociology from Queen’s University where she received the Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal. She is cross-appointed to SJU’s Department of Sexuality, Marriage, and Family Studies (SMF), and the Department of Sociology and Legal Studies at the University of Waterloo. As an AMTD Waterloo Global Talent Postdoctoral Fellow and an Ontario Women’s Health Scholar, she works under the supervision of SMF Associate Professor, Toni Serafini, PhD and UWaterloo’s Sociology and Legal Studies Assistant Professor, Andrea Quinlan, PhD.


In Hoskin’s work she looks at the societal treatment of femininity, separate but overlapping with the treatment of women. Specifically, Hoskin examines how femininity expressed by people of all genders and sexualities is devalued and regulated. Hoskin’s goal is to create measurable impact and systemic change – within her field, and also within her community.


“Over the past year I have guest edited three special issues on my topics of focus,” noted Hoskin. “During the first few months of my time at SJU/UWaterloo, I also prepared and submitted a book proposal, which was accepted and recently published by Routledge (2021). The book entitled, “Feminizing theory: Making space for Femme Theory,” marks a monumental step forward in my field – moving from “femme” as an identity to femme as a theoretical framework used to understand broader systems of power and inequity.”


In addition to her book, Hoskin also recently published articles including, “Critical femininities: A new approach to gender theory” (Psychology & Sexuality, 2021); “The feminine target: Gender expression in same-sex relationships as a predictor of experiences with public displays of affection” (Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality; 2021); “The new lesbian aesthetic? Exploring gender style among femme, butch and androgynous sexual minority women” (Women’s Studies International Forum; 2021); “Fat femininities: On the convergence of fat studies & critical femininities (Fat Studies; In Press); “The complexities of passing: Dual realities of a queer, crip white femme of Jewish descent” (Journal of Autoethnography; In Press); and “Is the messenger the message? Canadian political affiliation and other predictors of mask wearing frequency & attitudes during the COVID-19 pandemic” (Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science; 2021).


Matthew S. Wiseman’s current research project is a history of women scientists in twentieth-century Canada.  He joined the History Department as a Banting Fellow after earning his PhD in History from Wilfrid Laurier University, and holding successive post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Toronto (2017-19) and Western University (2019-20). He has published widely on Canadian history and the history of science during the Cold War, with a particular focus on the social and ethical implications of military-sponsored research in the university context.


While at SJU, Wiseman is investigating the development of gender equality and women’s rights in relation to the National Research Council (NRC).  By focusing on the NRC’s history of funding for the natural sciences (biology, chemistry, and physics) between 1920 and 2020, Wiseman is employing previously unused archival sources and oral interview materials to uncover stories about trailblazing women scientists.


“Women have played an active and influential role in the progression of scientific research in Canada over the past one hundred years,” noted Wiseman, ”but silences in the historical record often incorrectly overshadow or ignore women’s involvement in, and contributions to, science. It is important to foreground women’s voices and lived experiences, unearthing lessons from the past to contextualize and understand existing barriers for aspiring women scientists.” 


Wiseman hopes that a gender-based analysis of NRC history will yield information useful for understanding the deep roots of gender inequality among professional scientists in Canada, with the goal of generating knowledge useful for informing current policies to promote and advance women professionals in STEM-focused careers, disciplines, and administrative positions, both in and beyond academia. He recently published an article -“Synchronized Swimming in Ontario, 1920–50s: Gender, Beauty, and Sport,” Sport History Review (September 2021) - with his SJU mentor and Associate Professor in the Department of History, Jane Nicholas, PhD.  


"I am thrilled to be a Banting Fellow at St. Jerome's University,” added Wiseman. “As an equity-seeking historian and scholar, I think it's very important to uncover the lived experiences of women scientists for current and future generations of aspiring young people.  Having the opportunity to study and write about the history of women scientists while working alongside Dr. Jane Nicholas, a close mentor and one of Canada's foremost feminist scholars, is an honour and I couldn't be happier to be a member of SJU's fantastic scholarly community."


Hoskin agrees that SJU has provided an environment where she can be successful.  


“To me, a successful postdoc environment strikes a delicate balance of pairing support and guidance with freedom and autonomy. It’s a difficult balance, but one that my supervisors at SJU and UWaterloo have mastered beautifully,” Hoskin said. “Achieving this balance is not only integral to launching an emerging scholar’s career, but it also sets us up with a lifelong passion for our work, cultivating curiosity, creativity, and care for others. SJU and UWaterloo have created just such an environment–– and I feel both inspired and energized.”


For other academics at SJU, having postdoctoral fellows on site enriches discussions and provides students the opportunity to experience their work in the classroom or in public presentations. MacGregor added “I am grateful to the faculty colleagues who supervise their work and the funding organizations and donors who have the foresight to invest in people and scholarship that will pay dividends for years to come.”



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