University of the Fraser Valley

UFV Top 40 Alumni: Tanya Jonker — A memorable career in the making for memory researcher

UFV Top 40 Alumni: Tanya Jonker — A memorable career in the making for memory researcher

Tanya Jonker BlogTanya Jonker will never forget her years at UFV. They helped launch her into an exciting academic career researching the mechanisms of memory retrieval.

Now a PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo, Jonker graduated from UFV in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. She was the UFV Young Distinguished Alumni award winner for 2014.

“I’m very honoured to receive this award,” she noted. “It’s not something I expected so early in my career.”

Tanya is a Vanier Scholar. She also received the prestigious Michael Smith Foreign Studies scholarship.

“My research focuses on the mechanisms underlying forgetting in human memory,” Tanya says. “Specifically, I am currently interested in the cognitive mechanism of inhibition. According to an inhibition account of forgetting, memory representations can be suppressed to facilitate retrieval of other related memories. For instance, when you retrieve some information, it can result in forgetting related information.  Although this account is widely accepted, I am interested in testing its viability as a theory.

“To this end, I have been exploring retrieval-induced forgetting.  In recent work, I am applying a context approach as an alternative explanatory framework for retrieval-induced forgetting.”

Once she earns her doctorate, Tanya hopes to pursue a career teaching and researching at a university.

“I believe that Tanya is a truly remarkable scientist who will continue to make UFV proud,” says Dr. Andrea Hughes of UFV’s Psychology department. “I have worked with many talented graduate students and none has ever come close to accomplishing what Tanya has done in a few short years. Her academic accomplishments are truly amazing. I firmly believe that she will be one of the very top academics in her field.”

Hughes noted that while Jonker was completing her honour’s thesis work for her bachelor’s degree at UFV, she chose to focus on the topic of retrieval-induced forgetting.

“As an undergraduate student at UFV, Tanya disagreed with the most dominant theory in the field on this topic, and has followed her passion, leading her to develop her own theory, which has become widely accepted by experts in her area.”

Most graduate students only hope to publish some of their work before graduation. Tanya has succeeded in publishing early in her graduate program and has published 10 articles in high impact journals. Her list of publications outshines many well established scientists. Her most outstanding accomplishment is having been published in Psychological Review.

“To be the lead author of an article in Psychological Review would be the pinnacle of the career of many talented research psychologists; for Tanya to do it when only four years removed from a BA borders on the incredible,” noted Dr. Sven van de Wetering of the UFV Psychology department.


The UFV Top 40

 In celebration of its 40th anniversary, the University of the Fraser Valley and the UFV Alumni Association  chose UFV’s Top 40 Alumni.

It wasn’t easy to select only 40 outstanding alumni. UFV has welcomed many students into its classrooms and labs over the past 40 years. Thousands of them have graduated and become alumni of the university.

“The UFV Top 40 Alumni exemplify a range of exceptional qualities, from career excellence and leadership to acts of selflessness, courage, creativity, and innovation. We congratulate all of them on their achievements,” said UFV Alumni Association chair Justin P. Goodrich (BA ’12).

The list includes alumni who attended in the early days of Fraser Valley College in the 1970s, those who helped plan and shape the new degree programs during the university-college phase, and recent graduates.

“When I look at this list, I am truly impressed by breadth, depth, and variety to be found in our alumni ranks,” noted Nancy Armitage, Manager of Alumni Engagement. “And it really illustrates the impact that UFV alumni are having in our communities and around the world.”

More than 260 nominations were received for the Top 40 Alumni after a community-wide appeal. Representatives from the UFV Alumni Association and the university then selected the Top 40 based on a set of criteria that included community contributions, commitment to others, career/professional excellence, leadership, creativity/innovation, and acting with selflessness or courage.

See the whole list here.