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Passion and purpose remembered

A family gift establishes a memorial scholarship and faculty fund in honour of a passionate and generous researcher

by Krista Habermehl, MA'05 | April 7, 2015

Passion and purpose remembered

Megan J. Davey had many passions in life.

She was an avid gardener and grew her own vegetables in her backyard. She loved going to the opera with her father and camping with her friends. She dabbled in art and enjoyed film. Her black Labrador Retriever, Oreo, was her constant companion – accompanying her everywhere, including to her office at Western.

It was her research in the field of DNA replication that was possibly her greatest passion. Davey was recruited to Western’s Department of Biochemistry in the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry in 2004 and was considered a talented and dedicated faculty member at the forefront of her field until her untimely passing in 2012.

An OGS award and faculty opportunity fund have been established in honour of the late Megan J. Davey, a researcher with Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.

Davey was 45 years old when she passed away suddenly and unexpectedly due to complications arising during surgery.

When it was discovered Davey did not have a will, her family felt it was important to honour her spirit and personality by directing her estate to one of her passions – her work.

In the fall of 2014, The Davey family donated $200,000 to establish the Megan J. Davey Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) and the Megan J. Davey Opportunity Fund.

“Throughout her life, Megan wanted to make a difference,” says Davey’s mother, Ms. Jenny Davey. “One of the things Megan spent a good deal of time doing was filling out grant proposals and she felt that it was, in a way, impeding on her time to be spent on research. She did voice that when she could, she wanted to support the students and department in this way.”

The annual $15,000 OGS award will support students committed to conducting research in the field of experimental life sciences, with a focus on cellular and/or molecular biology.

According to Davey’s father, Prof. Ken Davey, establishing the OGS award allowed the family to create a significant and permanent legacy for Davey at an institution she loved.

“Megan benefitted from an OGS award at one point in her student career, so it was fitting to establish a similar award in her name,” says her father.

OGS awards recognize excellence in graduate studies and support exceptional students who are driving research discovery and solutions to today’s most challenging problems. These highly sought after awards are granted to students who demonstrate superior academic performance and research potential.

Western graduate students have been highly successful in annual OGS competitions since the program was established in 1975 and, according to Linda Miller, vice-provost for the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, this funding continues to have a substantial impact on the quality of students attracted to the University.

“We are deeply grateful to the entire Davey family for making such a significant and important gift to support Western’s graduate students,” says Miller. “The Megan J. Davey OGS award is a wonderful way to honour Megan’s achievements and aspirations while supporting our tradition of excellence in graduate education.”

In addition, the Megan J. Davey Opportunity Fund provides $3,000 annually for junior faculty members (10 years or less) in the experimental life sciences to take advantage of special opportunities not covered by normal research grants. These opportunities include, but are not limited to, travel or accommodation for national or international conferences, professional development, or collaborative research activities with colleagues outside of the University.

In the highly competitive field of scientific research, Davey’s warmth, generosity and helpfulness with her colleagues and students were remarked upon as unique and refreshing.

“Megan was awesome. She was a rigorous scientist, world-class really. I learned more from her than anyone else. She was friendly and always willing to share lab space and collaborate with her colleagues,” says friend and colleague David Edgell, associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Western. “The department lost an invaluable researcher – she was so talented.”

With the establishment of the OGS award and faculty opportunity fund, Davey’s legacy will live on at Western.

To learn more about creating a student award, contact Carole Stinson, executive director, Development Programs (519.661.2111, ext. 85696 or cstinson@uwo.ca).


This article appeared in the Spring 2015 edition of Impact Western
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