Eric Kennedy honoured with Young Alumni Inspiration Award

Thursday, September 23, 2021

We are pleased to announce that Eric Kennedy (BKI'12), is the 2021 Faculty of Environment Young Alumni Inspiration Award recipient. This award was established in 2013 to celebrate alumni who graduated less than 10 years ago and whose early professional or academic success, contribution to the community and contribution to sustainability inspire the next generation of environment graduates. 

Since graduating as part of the inaugural Bachelor of Knowledge Integration class in 2012, Eric Kennedy has advanced research on disaster management, wildfires and, most recently, the social and human impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The seeds of Eric's research interests were planted even before he came to the University of Waterloo. As a child, he was interested in political science, governance, environmental policy, climate change. KI allowed him to find the connections and linkages amongst his interests and taught him the multiplicative advantage of bringing those lenses together. As part of the campus response team, he thrived as a student, benefiting from mentorship with Professor Katie Plaisance and finding a rich community.  

After graduating as the 2012 Alumni Gold Medal winner, Eric completed his master’s and PhD at Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes at Arizona State University, where a series of natural disasters in the world sharpened his focus on disaster studies and emergency management.  

Today, he is Assistant Professor of Disaster & Emergency Management at York University, where he leads the Collaboration on Emergency Management, Preparedness, and Policy Research (the CEMPPR Lab). The lab trains students in community-engaged and collaborative research methods that support real-world outcomes.  

Since 2020, Eric has also been the lead investigator on a national Covid-19 monitoring program tracking social and human impacts and advising federal and provincial government policy. Like everything he has been involved with throughout his career, it's a cross-disciplinary effort reliant on solid partnerships. "If you want your work to matter, for it to have an impact," he explains, "it depends on having trusted relationships and partnerships."  

With restrictions to in-person gatherings easing, Eric is looking forward to resuming science Outside the Lab training, an experiential education program he founded that introduces grad students from across Canada to the policy environment. Its two-fold mission is to help those who do not want to remain in academia find purposeful, productive careers, and to help those who want to stay in the research world learn how to build partnerships and relationships with government scientists, decision-makers, journalists, and others to make a difference in the world. 

this text is from the ENVision Fall 2021 newsletter