Born in Hungary, but a Canadian citizen since 1956, Emőke Szathmáry is a biological anthropologist. Her academic administrative appointments include serving 12 years as the President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manitoba (1996-2008). Earlier she was Provost and Vice-President (Academic) at McMaster University (1994-96), Dean of Social Science at the University of Western Ontario (1989-1994), and Chairman of the Department of Anthropology at McMaster University (1985-1988). She had joined McMaster University in 1975 as a probationary Assistant Professor after a term appointment at Trent University. Currently she is President Emeritus and Professor in the Department of Anthropology as well as the Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics.
Dr Szathmáry has served on many public and private committees and boards at provincial, national, and international levels. These include within Manitoba the St. Boniface General Hospital Board (1997-2008), the Manitoba Museum Foundation Board (1997-2006) and the Manitoba Electoral Boundaries Commission (1998). She was Co-Chair of the Manitoba Diabetes Strategy Steering Committee (1997-99), Co-Chair of the Advisory Committee on Diabetes to the Minister of Health, (2000-03) and Chair of the Council of Presidents of Universities in Manitoba (2000-02). Nationally Dr Szathmáry has been a member of the Executive Committee and Board of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (2000-02; 07-08), the Canadian Genetics Diseases Network (2003-07), and the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee on Science and Technology (2005-07). She is a member of Central European University School of Business International Advisory Board (2005-). Currently Dr Szathmáry is a director of the J. W. Dafoe Foundation (1996-), the Canadian Credit Management Foundation (2004-), the University of the Arctic (2007-), the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation (2008- ), and the Advanced Foods and Materials Network (2008- ). She is also a director of Power Corporation of Canada, Power Financial Corporation and Great-West Lifeco.
Dr Szathmáry’s research addresses the genetics of the indigenous peoples of North America, focusing on the causes of type-2 diabetes, the genetic relationships within and between North American and Asian peoples, and the microevolution of subarctic and arctic populations. Her field research involved Ottawa, Ojibwa and Dogrib peoples in Ontario and the Northwest Territories. Her publications include over 80 articles and reviews, and she has co-edited three books. Dr Szathmáry was editor-in-chief of the Yearbook of Physical Anthropology (1987-91), and of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology (1995-2001). She is a Fellow of the Arctic Institute of North America (1989) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1995). She held the Paul T. Baker Lectureship at The Pennsylvania State University in 1992, and was named a life member of the Canadian Association for Physical Anthropology in 1997. In 1998 the American Anthropological Association named her Distinguished Lecturer, which is the highest recognition given by the anthropological discipline for a lifetime of exemplary scholarship.
Dr Szathmáry has received five honourary doctorates in recognition of her research and contribution to higher education: Doctor of Laws, University of Toronto (2001), York University (2008) and McMaster University (2008); Doctor of Science, University of Western Ontario (2003); Doctor of Sacred Letters, University of St. Michael's College (2004). She was a Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer (2002-04), and in 2007 received the Franz Boas Distinguished Achievement Award of the Human Biology Association.
Dr Szathmáry was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2003. In 2004, she was named to the Top 100: Canada's Most Powerful Women, by the Women's Executive Network and the Richard Ivey School of Business, and in 2005, she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. In 2007 she received the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Excellence in Public Administration in Manitoba.