Dr. Don Kerr receives the Hugh Mellon Excellence in Research Award
April 12, 2017
This year's recipient of the Hugh Mellon Excellence in Research Award is Sociology professor Dr. Don Kerr. Dr. Kerr’s research interests fall in the area of social demography. On the population of Canada, his research interests include the following: evolving demographics (fertility, mortality, immigration, aging, family) and implications for social policy in areas such as poverty, health, family, political representation and the environment. Most recently, Dr. Kerr’s research for the London Poverty Research Centre at King’s looks at boomers, aging, mental health and the rise in disability support.
The King’s University College Hugh Mellon Excellence in Research Award is named in honor of Dr. Hugh Mellon, late Associate Professor of Political Science at King’s. This award is designed to recognize the scholarly work of a faculty member at King’s which reflects Dr. Mellon’s avid academic engagement, his pursuit of knowledge and its dissemination through publication, and his willingness to ever renew his research through innovative partnerships and consistent commitment to research excellence.
Dr. Kerr has been an outstanding scholar in the Department of Sociology and continually has advanced the sub-discipline of Demography through his publications, teaching, and active participation in the Canadian Population Society and the London Poverty Research Centre @ King’s (LPRC).
He published (with Bali Ram) the monograph Population Dynamics in Canada in the mid-1990s with Prentice Hall Canada Inc., followed by Population Change in Canada with Oxford University Press (co-authored with the esteemed demographer Rod Beaujot). The latter publication has been extremely well-received, having been updated and re-released with Oxford in 2016 – and with Dr. Kerr as first author. The expanded work includes a new chapter on population and the environment, which reflects Don’s growing interest in the area following his collaborative work with the late Hugh Mellon of the eponymous award.
Dr. Kerr has the distinction of having co-authored two of Dr. Mellon’s final publications in 2012, including “Energy, Population and the Environment: Exploring Canada’s Record on CO2 Emissions and Energy Use Relative to OECD Countries” in Population and Environment. In honor of Dr. Mellon, Dr. Kerr then presented that research post-humously as part of the King’s University College Faculty Lecture Series to a packed boardroom. He broadened his intellectual horizons to support Dr. Mellon as his health declined, as they jointly published “The Fair Representation Act of 2012 Fully Explained” in the Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law. More generally, Dr. Kerr has been a highly collaborative colleague, having co-authored peer-reviewed articles and applied publications with King’s faculty members and students across four departments, as well as colleagues from Main campus.
As the only demographer at King’s, Dr. Kerr integrated his research with his teaching to inspire students to pursue the field and the use of advanced statistics. He has done an outstanding job of integrating research with teaching, both with second-year courses and our advanced quantitative analysis course that many students have taken to earn their honor’s degrees and to pursue graduate education. He has long served as a graduate school advisor, having helped shepherd countless students through the process and helped launch several professional careers accordingly.
Dr. Kerr has generated considerable public interest through the application of his skills beyond the classroom and mentoring research assistants. For example, he has engaged extensively in applied work to create neighborhood profiles of the London community, which service providers and community groups alike can access through the LPRC website. Dr. Kerr is also the lead author of a broad study of the impact demographic and economic trends on poverty and social assistance use in Southwestern Ontario. He has been interviewed by a number of media outlets (press and radio) as a result of this work, which has helped shape the policy and political discussions through the careful presentation of heretofore unpublished data. All of the work has supported the successful launch of the London Poverty Research Centre @ King’s, for which we owe Professor Kerr a tremendous debt of gratitude.
Dr. Kerr has also been a tireless advocate for the Canadian Population Society (CPS) as their Secretary-Treasurer. He has helped develop and update the website further, which we now host at King’s as well. Under his leadership the CPS membership has grown significantly over the past two years, while concurrently helping to enhance King’s recognition and reputation both nationally and internationally. In fact, he has been an important public face in helping to organize various CPS annual meetings, serving as a model colleague that academicians and students alike can depend upon for his timely insights and service.
Congratulations Dr. Kerr!