Napper relishes research role and thirst for teaching
Even in the midst of a pandemic, University of Saskatchewan (USask) researchers continue to make a positive impact through leadership and teaching.
One of those leaders is Dr. Scott Napper (PhD), a professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, and the interim director of research at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization – International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac).
Napper stepped into the position earlier this spring, when Dr. Volker Gerdts (DVM) took over the role of VIDO-InterVac director and CEO. In his position, Napper oversees research in finding a vaccine at the only facility with this capability in Saskatchewan.
Leadership is nothing new for Napper. He led the reorganization of the undergraduate biomedical sciences programs—a partnership between the Colleges of Medicine and the College of Arts and Science that unifies the existing biomedical sciences departments.
“The new biomedical science program builds upon the strong foundation of our previous program with increased emphasis on interdisciplinary training and experiential learning,” said Napper. “Students will have the opportunity to receive training that ideally prepares them for a range of careers in science as well as for entry in the health-based professional colleges.”
At USask, Napper has been honoured for his commitment to teaching. He is a four-time recipient of the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union (USSU) Teaching Excellence Award, most recently in 2020.
“Many students struggle with the question of what they are going to do for their careers. The advice I offer to them is to look for moments of certainty. For me, my first time teaching was a moment of absolute certainty of how I wanted to spend my career,” said Napper.
“Teaching is now my greatest source of professional joy. To receive this award for teaching, in particular that it comes from the students, means the world to me.”
Outside of the university, Napper continues to share his passion for science with the next generation of learners, through talks at provincial high schools.
Napper’s presentations are meant to expose students to the idea that science is more than just facts and formulas.
“(Science) is about passion, imagination, and looking to solve the problems facing humanity,” said Napper. “Hopefully (I can) inspire students towards the opportunities that are available through a career in science.”