Environmental Physicist, Economic and Political Development Specialist and medical professionals among newest UWI Professors

As the new academic year commences, The University of the West Indies (The UWI) is pleased to announce its six newest Professors, including an Environmental Physicist, Economic and Political Development Specialist and four medical professionals. The six were promoted to the regional university’s highest academic rank with effect from May 2021, following rigorous evaluation of the quality and quantity of their research, publications and other professional activities by internal and external assessors. The academics received outstanding reviews in their respective areas of specialty; in addition to their personal academic distinctions, they emulate The UWI’s mission: “to advance learning, create knowledge and foster innovation for the positive transformation of the Caribbean and the wider world.” They are:

Cave Hill Campus
Professor Don Marshall

Mona Campus
Professor William Aiken
Professor Tannecia Stephenson
Professor Gilian Wharfe

St. Augustine Campus
Professor Gershwin Davis
Professor Bidyadhar Sa

More about the new Professors

Professor Don Marshall
Professor Don Marshall is a scholar in International Political Economy and Development. He is the Director of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) at The UWI, Cave Hill Campus, a position he has held since 2015.

Professor Marshall possesses a BA (Hons) in History and Political Science and an MPhil in Political Science, both from the Cave Hill Campus and a PhD in International Political Economy from the Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK.

He began his career at The UWI in August 1996 in the Department of Government, Sociology and Social Work at Cave Hill as a temporary Lecturer and one year later, was appointed a Research Fellow at SALISES. In 2002, he was granted indefinite tenure, then promoted to Senior Research Fellow in 2005. He also acted as Director of SALISES at the Cave Hill Campus from June 2014 to June 2015 before his official appointment in 2016. Professor Marshall has also crossed the Merit Bar at the Senior Research Fellow scale.

His current research projects focus on the globalisation phenomenon; offshore financial centres;
scientific finance as a discourse; industrial policy issues and democracy and governance in the Eastern and wider Caribbean.

Professor Marshall has authored one book (Palgrave Macmillan), with another forthcoming that has been accepted for publication by Routledge Publishers. He has co-edited two anthologies and written 10 chapters in addition to penning more than 16 articles in scholarly journals and seven short monographs.

Throughout his years at the Cave Hill Campus, Professor Marshall has been actively involved in teaching and curriculum development and editing academic publications. He was a member of the SALISES Working Committee that designed the Mona Campus-based MSc Development Policy programmes and course offerings. He was also one of the four scholars who revised and designed core courses for the MSc in Development Studies degree which began in August 2013. He delivers masters’ courses both at the Cave Hill and Mona Campuses and has served as Coordinator of the Cave Hill Campus’ 2012-2017 strategic planning exercise.

Professor Marshall has led or moderated numerous media-related discussions on the political economy of development as a subject specialist. He is also a current member of the Cave Hill Campus’ Academic-Industry Liaison Committee, aimed at bridging the gap between academia and the private sector.

Following the review of his work, one external assessor noted, “A criterion for promotion of teaching and research staff at The University of the West Indies is a record of distinguished original work done before or after coming to the University. Dr Marshall has met and surpassed this criterion. Indeed, he is a prolific and meticulous scholar who deserves to be praised for his outstanding achievements. I rate his scholarship and publications as excellent, and his overall record as distinguished.”

Professor William Aiken
Professor William Aiken has enjoyed a career as a Consultant Urologist in the Division of Urology, Department of Surgery, Radiology, Anaesthesia & Intensive Care, and Emergency Medicine at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Jamaica for more than two decades. During that time, he served as head of the Division of Urology for 14 years (2000-2014) and before his current position at The UWI, he held a post as a Registrar in Urology at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland, while on a Commonwealth Scholarship during his elective period of Urological training.

He holds an MBBS Degree and Doctor of Medicine Degree in Urology and was the first graduate from The UWI in this field. He later earned a Post Graduate Diploma in Epidemiology, an MSc in Epidemiology Principles and Practice and a Professional Diploma from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine which is affiliated with the University of London in the UK.

Professor Aiken joined The UWI in 1998 as an Associate Lecturer and moved up the ranks. As a Supervisor/Coordinator of the Doctor of Medicine programme in Urology, 10 Urologists have graduated under his direction. He has published a case book for the Doctor of Medicine in Urology programme; two book chapters of which he is first author; over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles, 47 papers at conferences and seminars; 45 abstracts, and more than 90 non-refereed articles. His work has been cited over seven hundred times and his articles have received more than nine thousand reads.

Professor Aiken has attracted research grants which have allowed him to conduct research in prostate cancer, and other men’s health issues. He has been a member of the Medical Association of Jamaica since 1989; a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh since 1995; a member of the Clinic Committee of the Jamaica Cancer Society since 2004, American Urological Association since 2010; a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons since 2011 and of the Caribbean College of Surgeons since 2013. Professor Aiken is also a dedicated public servant and has been a volunteer with the Jamaica Cancer Society since 1995 and currently serves on the board of the Medical Council of Jamaica. He gives numerous talks and lectures to churches, service clubs and in the local media on issues of men’s health.

Among his many accolades include the Jamaica Medical Foundation’s 2008 Award for Outstanding Contribution to Urology in Jamaica. He is a three-time winner of The UWI Mona Campus Principal’s Research Day Award for Best Research Publication and has won twice for Best Research Project with the greatest Multidisciplinary/Cross Faculty Collaboration and an award for Best Research in the Faculty of Medicine. He has served as President of the Jamaica Urological Society, the Caribbean Urological Association, and the Association of Surgeons in Jamaica. He is currently the International Surgical Advisor to the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh for Jamaica.

In reviewing his work for the promotion, one external assessor commented “Dr Aiken has had a productive career thus far and he is the best-known urologist in Jamaica from an academic perspective. This, of course, honours the country as well as The University of the West Indies. He is energetic, uniquely trained, a leader, and has been productive in a setting where resources are somewhat limited when compared to many institutions I am familiar in the United States…”

Professor Tannecia Stephenson
Professor Tannecia Stephenson is an Environmental Physicist and Head of the Department of Physics, Faculty of Science and Technology at The UWI, Mona Campus. Since 2005, she has been a Researcher and a key member of the Climate Studies Group at the Mona Campus. She is recognised internationally as a climate studies expert and currently serves as a contributor and lead author for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report.

Professor Stephenson holds a BSc (first class honours) as well as a PhD in Physics, both from the Mona Campus. Her research areas of specialisation are environmental physics, climate variability, climate change and climate extremes. Professor Stephenson’s contribution as a young scientist and now Co-Director in the Climate Studies Group at the Mona Campus brought a significant understanding of climate change and its impact in the Caribbean region.

She already holds an impressive repertoire of research and publications which include contributions to 41 refereed journal articles; two book chapters, 19 conferences/scientific papers, two refereed proceedings/technical guidance, five short monographs and eleven technical reports, among others. She has published 10 times in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society and is credited with over 1,350 citations.

Professor Stephenson joined the University’s teaching staff in 2006 as an Assistant Lecturer, working her way up to Senior Lecturer in 2015, before her promotion. In addition to teaching, she has contributed to programme development and is engaged in postgraduate supervision, honing the research and publication skills of students by allowing them to publish, and also organising a series of meetings on climate change and modelling.

Her past extra-departmental service includes co-chairing the Faculty of Science and Technology Conference; serving as a member of the Internal Quality Assurance Working Group and as a Faculty representative for The UWI Ethics Committee; as a representative to Academic Board among other roles. In addition to her UWI experience, Professor Stephenson spent one year as a Visiting Fellow in the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England from 2006-2007.

She has been named as a recipient of the 2021 UWI Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for Research Accomplishments and is also a 2018 recipient of the award for International Collaboration—also known as the Globalization Award. She earned a bronze Musgrave Medal in 2014 awarded by the Institute of Jamaica in recognition of achievement in art, science, and literature; The UWI Mona, Faculty of Science & Technology Best Publication Award in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2019; and she also received the Faculty’s Best Research Activity Award in 2016 and 2018.

In reviewing her work for consideration of the promotion to Professor, one of her external assessors commented, “Dr Stephenson is clearly producing multiple, tangible research products each year; an impressive and distinguished rate of sustained production. However, it is not the quantity of the publications alone which makes Dr Stephenson’s research distinguished. Overall, she has published in approximately 20 different peer-reviewed journals; (this) illustrates her ability to make research relevant to multiple audiences, increasing the footprint of the research, and adding to her reputation.”

Professor Gilian Wharfe
A Clinical Haematologist by profession, Professor Gilian Wharfe is a former Head of the Department of Pathology in the Faculty of Medical Sciences and Director of the Residency Programme for Haematology and Oncology at the University Hospital of the West Indies at The UWI, Mona Campus.

A proud and dedicated Mona alumna, Professor Wharfe received her MBBS at the Campus in 1982, with Honours in Pharmacology, Pathology, and Microbiology and Medicine, then her Doctor of Medicine degree (Haematology) in 1988. In 1993, she moved on to pursue a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Cancer Centre in Tokyo, Japan, then completed training in Research Ethics in the 2015-2016 Caribbean Research Ethics Education initiative (CREEi), funded by the Fogarty International Center, US National Institute of Health.

To date, Professor Wharfe has dedicated her career of over 37 years to The UWI. She teaches at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels; provides clinical and academic supervision and actively contributes to university life by serving on examination boards and has provided administrative leadership on numerous boards and committees over the years. Outside The UWI, she has undertaken visits to medical schools and hospitals in the US, UK and Japan.

As a researcher, Professor Wharfe has been Principal Investigator or Site Responsible Investigator on various several projects and has attracted over US$4 million from the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute in the US. She also received funding from the Novo Nordisk Foundation which supported her collaborative research with partners at SickKids in Toronto, on Haemophilia in Jamaica. She has presented over 30 papers at invited lectures and published over 50 articles in several high profile specialised medical journals, including The Lancet, Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and the West Indian Medical Journal.

She was the Chair of the Mona Campus Research Ethics committee as well as the Chair for the Colorectal cancer group preparing the National Comprehensive Cancer Network harmonised Caribbean guidelines. She is also the current Chair of the Jamaica Haemophilia Committee; a current member of the Jamaica Association of Clinical Pathologists; the American Society of Clinical Oncology; the European Society of Medical Oncology, and the Caribbean Physicians Network, among other local and international associations. Her public service includes serving on the Catholic Doctors’ Association and the Haemophilia Committee Outreach.

Among her accolades include the Principal’s Research Award for Research Projects Attracting the Most Funds, both in 2006 and 2019. She was also honoured in 2017 by the Association of Consultant Physicians of Jamaica for outstanding contributions to teaching Haematology and her contribution in building knowledge in that specialisation.

One of the external assessors reviewing her portfolio commented, “Dr Wharfe has a sustained record of international research funding as a co-investigator in team science projects that have yielded impactful results. The international funding supports two major initiatives. The first is a longstanding collaboration with the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute (USA) focused on HTLV1-related adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma…The second initiative is an internationally funded programme (Novo Nordisk Foundation) supporting collaboration between Canada and Jamaica in the development of comprehensive laboratory testing for haemophilia.”

Professor Gershwin Davis
A physician for over 26 years, Professor Gershwin Davis has focused his research interests on investigating biomarkers in chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, renal disease and dementia.

He earned a BSc (Hon) at The UWI St. Augustine Campus, then moved on to the Mona Campus where he completed both his MBBSs and PhD. He joined the staff of The UWI in 1997, and advanced through academia with fellowships and Visiting Scientist programmes in Canada and the US, including a Fulbright Fellowship at the University of Minnesota at Hennepin County Medical Centre.

Prior to his professorial appointment, Dr Davis spent almost five years as Head of the Para-Clinical Sciences department in the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the St. Augustine Campus and 12 as a Senior Lecturer in Clinical Chemistry. He previously served as Acting Head of the Department, Acting Deputy Dean of Basic Health Sciences, Unit Coordinator of Pathology and Microbiology and Chair Subcommittee Institutional setting for the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and Other Health Professions (CAAM-HP) at the St. Augustine Campus.

Professor Davis still lectures and supervises at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels and over the years, has also made outstanding contributions to the UWI community. He has developed new programmes, modified existing, served as an examiner and independent assessor as well as a member of numerous academics boards and administration committees. In 2019, Professor Davis also led the Department of Para-Clinical Sciences in its first-ever quality assurance review exercise.

He has authored 107 publications to date, including five book chapters and 33, peer-reviewed journal articles and has been a reviewer for the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Biomarker Insights, and the West Indian Medical Journal.

He is an active Diplomate of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry; a current Associate Member, American Society of Clinical Pathology and Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Clinical Biochemistry. His public service includes working as a Consultant in the Chemical Pathology Laboratory Section at the Scarborough Regional Hospital Tobago from 2008 to 2016 as well as contributing his time as a member on national boards and committees.

Professor Davis’ recent awards include Best Research Project with Potential for Impact from the St. Augustine Campus’ Faculty of Medical Sciences Research Day in 2016 and a UWI-NGC Research Award for Best Research Team for encouraging multidisciplinary research, mitigating the Dementia Tsunami in Trinidad Project.

From among the reviews of his work towards promotion, one external assessor commented, “Dr Davis has made significant contribution to knowledge on the biochemistry of neurodegenerative diseases, specifically dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. His work on biomarkers for dementia monitoring, public health concerns on dementia, non-communicable diseases and diagnosing of kidney disease, substance use in pregnancy, Type 2 diabetic and increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and alternate methods of assaying for serum is outstanding. Dr Davis and his research team were the first to report on the trend of dementia in Trinidad and Tobago and the first to communicate this to policymakers for adoption and implementation of a National Dementia Plan.”

Professor Bidyadhar Sa
Professor Bidyadhar Sa is Head of the Centre for Medical Sciences Education, a position he has held for almost a decade at The UWI, St. Augustine Campus. He has also been Deputy Dean for Quality Assurance and Accreditation in the Faculty of Medical Sciences since 2018, and before his promotion as Professor, he was a Senior Lecturer since 2014.

He joined The UWI in 2008, working between the Mona and St. Augustine Campuses as a Research Supervisor in the Faculty of Medical Sciences when he left Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia as an Assistant Professor. Prior to that, he was a Lecturer in a college affiliated with Kurukshetra University in India.

He earned his BA (Honours) in Education from Sambalpur University in India, as well as an MA, MPhil and PhD in Education, all from Kurukshetra University in India.

Professor Sa’s research interests are Pedagogical Methods and Assessment of Medical Education. He has attracted several intra-mural and extra-mural research grants as Principal Investigator of most, and Co-investigator of others. He has also committed his focus to areas central and critical to the medical education practice, including providing training to faculty staff across campuses and students by conducting more than 70 workshops since joining The UWI.

Across the UWI system, Professor Sa actively contributes to university life, having served on dozens of committees and working groups and has organised orientation week activities for the Faculty of Medical Sciences at St. Augustine for over eight years. He provides supervision for student research at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels including MPhil and PhD candidates and has also served as an Independent External Examiner for 20 PhD theses so far.

Professor Sa holds membership in many professional organisations and is a founding member of the International Forum of Researchers in Education. He is on the Editorial Board of the BMC Research Notes; West Indian Medical Journal; Advances in Human Biology and Edu-Psycatia-An International Journal on Education and Psychology and has also served as a peer reviewer himself, for over a dozen international journals. He serves as an external peer evaluator for five regional and one international accreditation agency.

He has authored one book, Focusing On Some Psychological Dimensions of Tribals; one book chapter; 45 peer-reviewed journal articles; 41 posters and oral conference presentations, and presented 25 policy position papers on medical education.

The external reviewers noted “Dr Sa will be best remembered for distinguished work, practical services and theorizing medical education mainly focused on pedagogical methods and assessment of medical education. His publications shed light on the most critical and highly contested topics in medical education that include teaching and assessment of critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills in medical education, PBL, active and engaging learning strategy. He has also notably addressed the most important human attributes that medical training needs to develop in the students; just beyond medical knowledge and skills. Personally, I am also extremely impressed with how Dr Sa’ s research work is also blended with practice as it can be seen in the various training workshops and curriculum development ventures he was engaged in.”