Professor Jennifer Chandler succeeds Professor Penelope Simons as the new Vice-Dean of Research at the Common Law Section

Faculty of Law - Common Law Section

By Common Law

Communication, Faculty of Law

Jennifer Chandler and Penelope Simons
On July 1, 2022, Professor Jennifer Chandler will assume the role of Vice-Dean of Research at the Common Law Section. Professor Chandler follows in the footsteps of Professor Penelope Simons, whose exceptional leadership as Vice-Dean helped steer the Common Law Section through the tumultuous uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Chandler is a Full professor at the Common Law Section and a founding member of the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics. She is cross-appointed to the Faculty of Medicine and holds the Bertram Loeb Research Chair. Professor Chandler’s research explores the legal and ethical aspects of biomedical science and technology, with a focus on the intersection of the brain sciences, law and ethics, and the legal policy related to organ donation and transplantation.

Professor Chandler’s research involves collaborations with a diverse international group of academics and clinicians. For example, she led the publication of the first international comparative study of the laws of “psychosurgery” with the contributions of leading functional neurosurgeons from Europe, Asia and the Americas. She also coordinates a tri-national project – Hybrid Minds – which brings together researchers from Switzerland, Germany and Canada to examine the implications of embedding artificial intelligence within neuroprosthetics.  Professor Chandler also regularly contributes to Canadian governmental policy on contentious matters of biomedicine. Just recently, for example, she co-authored a report on safeguards related to medical assistance in dying in the context of mental illness as part of a government-commissioned expert panel.

Professor Penelope Simons served in the role of Vice-Dean of Research for a three-year period beginning in July 2019. During that time, she served as a member of the Common Law Section’s COVID-19 Response Team and helped guide researchers through the unknowns of the early days of the pandemic, countering the daily disorder with a calm and pragmatic leadership style. For example, as large numbers of summer experiential learning and employment opportunities for students were cancelled or postponed because of widespread pandemic shutdowns, Professor Simons led the Common Law Section’s Summer Student Support Initiative, which helped match students with summer fellowships and research assistant positions.

As the pandemic ebbed and flowed, Professor Simons helped turn the focus of the Common Law Section’s research pursuits to issues of equity, diversity and inclusion, joining Assistant Dean of Research, Cintia Quiroga, in convening the 4th Autumn School on the Methodology of Research in Law in November 2021, which created space for a broad range of discussions focused around the theme of Inclusive Research.

Professor Simons’ own research pursuits were bolstered during this time period by her appointment as the Gordon Henderson Chair in Human Rights in 2021.  As Chair, she is exploring access to effective remedies for those affected by resource extraction within Canada. This research builds on her deep expertise in resource extraction and human rights and her work on regulatory responses to extractive-related human rights violations, including the gendered impacts of resource extraction and gendered nature of such regulatory responses.  Also in 2021, Professor Simons and doctoral candidate Melisa Handl were selected as the winners of the Canadian Council on International Law (CCIL) Scholarly Paper Award for their co-authored paper, “Relations of Ruling: A Feminist Critique of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and Violence against Women in the Context of Resource Extraction” (Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, Vol. 31, No. 1).

The Common Law Section extends its most sincere gratitude to Professor Simons for her invaluable contributions as Vice-Dean, and a warm welcome to Professor Chandler as she embarks on her new role.