April Hammond-Berkol and David de Vries

DDAHB_MV.pngIn 2017, April Hammond-Berkol and others on the SFPE Foundation Awards Committee recognized it was unlikely that the SFPE Foundation would be able to support the annual Dr. Guylène Proulx, OC Scholarship at the $5,000 level in perpetuity unless enough funds could be raised to create an endowment specifically for supporting the award. Dr. Proulx was considered by all who knew her to be one of the preeminent researchers and communicators in the field of human behavior in emergencies. The Dr. Guylène Proulx, OC Scholarship Award honors her legacy by building on the research in her chosen profession of human behavior.

To motivate other donors to contribute to this new endowment to support the Proulx Scholarship, April announced that her initial contribution would be a matching challenge of a $10,000 pledge made over five years. The Challenge was named in tribute to retired professor Robert W. Fitzgerald of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachsuetts, one of April’s favorite professors.

“While human behavior is not a traditional area of study in the fire protection arena,
 it is a vital one, which is why I chose to support the Dr. Guylène Proulx, OC Scholarship
 with a matching gift. You don’t have to be a millionaire to give back. Fire Engineering has
 been a wonderful profession for me, and I wanted to give back to the community.” April
 shared when asked about her motivation for making this matching pledge.

In 2020, David de Vries very generously agreed to continue April’s pledge until 2026 with a total pledge of $13,500. David graduated with a degree in Fire Protection and Safety Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago with the help of scholarships and was looking for a way to give back. He turned to the SFPE Foundation and pledged to support the Dr. Guylène Proulx, OC Scholarship since he had worked with Dr. Proulx in the past and wanted to support this important field of work.

Thanks to the generous support of donors like April and David, the SFPE Foundation continues to honor Dr. Proulx’s legacy with this annual award. In 2021, Hossein Tavanarezaei, Ph.D. student at Ulster University, was awarded the Proulx Scholarship for his work focusing on crowd flow dynamics, exploring the microscopic characteristics of individuals walking in a crowd. For a recent publication related to this work see “Experimental Analyses of Step Extent and Contact Buffer in Pedestrian Dynamics.”

You can join April and David in ensuring the continuation of the Dr. Guylène Proulx, OC Scholarship by donating to the Robert W. Fitzgerald Challenge Fund, linked below.