Vice-President (Research)

Lesley Rigg

Administrative Support: Kristina Fornelos, Executive Specialist to the Vice-President (Research)


Lesley Rigg was appointed to a five-year term as Western’s Vice-President (Research), effective August 1, 2020.

In this role, Lesley works with internal and external partners to strategically advance research, scholarship and artistic practice across disciplines, while enhancing Western’s standing as one of Canada’s foremost research-intensive universities. She also provides leadership to Western Research and to university institutes.

Lesley is an internationally recognized scholar with more than 25 years of experience working in postsecondary education. She is a forest ecologist/biogeographer who earned a bachelor’s degree in geography and environmental studies from York University in Toronto, a master’s degree in geography from the University of Colorado and a doctorate degree in geography and environmental studies from the University of Melbourne in Australia.

Lesley comes to Western from the University of Calgary, where she had been Dean of Science since 2015. Previous roles at Northern Illinois University (NIU) included Vice-President for Research and Innovation Partnerships and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

A running theme in Lesley’s research and teaching is inclusivity.

She has been a member of the National Committee on the Status of Women in Geography of the Association of American Geographers, Co-Chair of the Presidential Task force on Violence against Women and Co-Chair of the Committee on the Prevention of Sexual Violence at the University of Calgary. At NIU she won awards for teaching and the promotion of women on campus, including the Wilma D. Stricklin Award for enhancing the climate on campus for women.

Currently, Lesley sits on boards for Trout Unlimited Canada. She is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society, was recognized as a SHEInnovator by SHEInnovates Alberta – the first Canadian chapter of the UN Women's Global Innovation Coalition for Change – and in 2019, was awarded the Vision Builder Award by the Universal Women’s Network.