In 1989, The University of Lethbridge Alumni Association established the Alumnus of the Year Award to recognize those individuals who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and earned international reputations in their chosen fields.
This year’s recipient is Dr. Glen Prusky, a graduate of the Class of 1986 and a Faculty member here in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, the first faculty member/alumnus combination in the history of the University to receive this award. His road to this stage has brought him full circle, from his hometown of Claresholm, to these halls as a student, and now to the classroom as a professor.
Glen received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Lethbridge, in 1986, then attended Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1986 to complete his Masters degree. He continued with his doctoral studies at Dalhousie, and received his Ph.D. in 1989. He worked for three years as a research fellow in the Department of Biology at Yale, returning to Lethbridge in 1993 as an Assistant Professor of Psychology.
Glen Prusky teaches courses in research, developmental and behavioural neuroscience. Since 1993 he has also been an instructor in Neural Systems and Behaviour at The Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Holes, Massachusetts.
His primary research focus is the role that environment plays in shaping the structure and function of the developing nervous system. Most of his more than 30 publications are on this topic. His research has shown that spontaneous cellular activity in the visual system before birth, even before there is visual information for the eyes to see, is necessary to produce normal visual function.
The implications of this are that disruptions of early brain activity by injury, malnutrition, alcohol, nicotine and other harmful occurrences can have devastating and permanent consequences for future brain function.
Glen Prusky’s enthusiasm for his research, his teaching and his students is evident and infectious. He regularly talks to both current and potential students about his own student experiences at the University of Lethbridge, and how those experiences shaped his future career plans, which initially involved ranching rather than research.
As a high school graduate from Claresholm, and after a brief job on a ranch in Marsden, Saskatchewan, Glen Prusky enrolled at the University of Lethbridge, not really sure of his future or what university might do for him. During an Introductory Psychology class in his first semester, he was exposed to the mysteries of the brain and brain function. This interested him enough to approach a professor and ask if he could help out in the lab to gain experience in neuroscience. In a move characteristic of the University of Lethbridge experience for many students, the professor put him to work, giving him a significant advantage in graduate school, and a head start on his career.
The University of Lethbridge Alumni Association is honoured today to acknowledge the dedication and achievements of Dr. Glen Prusky by recognizing him as the Alumnus of the Year, and further recognized that Glen will no doubt seek out and put to work other students who remind him of himself those years ago.