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Presidential approval

Dr. Neil Bose recognizes standout employees at Dec. 8 ceremony

Campus and Community

By Memorial University

President Neil Bose handed out the 2023 President’s Awards to outstanding Memorial University employees during a special ceremony at the Signal Hill Campus on Dec. 8.

Congratulations to all the recipients!

John Lewis Paton Award

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Dr. Proton Rahman

Dr. Proton Rahman, Faculty of Medicine, received the John Lewis Paton Distinguished University Professorship.

Named for the first president of Memorial University College, the award recognizes faculty who embody the university’s mission by demonstrating exceptional teaching, undertaking world-class research and sharing their knowledge and expertise widely.

Dr. Proton Rahman is recognized worldwide for his groundbreaking discoveries on the genomics of rheumatic diseases. A visionary educator, he mentored a generation of physicians and researchers. His seminal scientific contributions guided public health policy as part of Newfoundland and Labrador’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Outstanding Research

President’s Awards for Outstanding Research were awarded to Dr. Jonathan Fawcett, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Science; Dr. James LeBlanc, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Faculty of Science; and Dr. Julia Lukewich, Faculty of Nursing. This award recognizes young researchers who made significant contributions to their scholarly disciplines.

Dr. Stephen Butt, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science; Dr. Sukhinder Cheema, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science; and Dr. Guangju Zhai, Faculty of Medicine, were honoured with the title university research professor, a designation above the rank of professor that goes to faculty members who demonstrate a consistently high level of scholarship and whose research is of international stature.

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Dr. Jonathan Fawcett

Dr. Fawcett is being recognized for his fundamental contributions to the field of cognitive neuroscience, the creation of a high-calibre research program and an excellent rate of knowledge translation.

Dr. Fawcett is renowned for his innovative research focused on the mechanisms underlying the suppression of unwanted memories.


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Dr. James LeBlanc

Dr. LeBlanc is being recognized for his scientific contributions to theoretical and computational physics, his vigorous research studies and an exceptional rate of scholarly output.

Dr. LeBlanc studies what are known as correlated electron systems. His specialty is developing cutting-edge numerical tools and algorithms to solve problems within quantum field theory.


Dr. Lukewich is being recognized for her exceptional scholarship in primary care nursing, the creation of a high-quality research program and her strong record of knowledge mobilization.

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Dr. Julia Lukewich

Dr. Lukewich focuses on improving the delivery of primary health care through the optimization of nurses within team-based models.





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Dr. Stephen Butt

Dr. Butt is being recognized for his gamechanging mining research, the establishment of a vibrant research program with industry leaders and his exceptional research productivity.

Dr. Butt, Department of Process Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, is a global expert in the field of drilling technology.


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Dr. Sukhinder Cheema

Dr. Cheema is being recognized for her exceptional contributions to the field of metabolic health, the creation of a robust research program and her highly influential body of scholarship. Dr. Cheema, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, is a global authority on maternal nutrition and its critical role in the predisposition to adult diseases.


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Dr. Guangju Zhai

Dr. Zhai is being recognized for his transformative contributions to his field of medicine, the creation of a world-class osteoarthritis research program and an exceptional rate of knowledge dissemination. An expert in genetic epidemiology, Dr. Zhai, Human Genetics and Genomics, Division of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, has made a significant worldwide impact on the understanding of osteoarthritis while improving the lives of patients.

Exceptional Community Service

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Dr. Sulaimon Giwa

The President’s Award for Exceptional Community Service was awarded to Dr. Sulaimon Giwa, School of Social Work.

This award is presented in recognition of employees (faculty or staff) who have demonstrated outstanding community service.

Dr. Giwa is a trusted educator, advisor, community member and trainer. Dr. Giwa balances teaching with significant community activities. He is instrumental in fostering co-operation between various community stakeholders and provides invaluable mentorship and counsel to organizations and government agencies at the municipal, provincial, interprovincial and national levels.

Outstanding Graduate and Postgraduate Supervision

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Eric Vander Wal

Dr. Eric Vander Wal, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, was awarded the President’s Award for Outstanding Graduate and Postgraduate Supervision.

This award recognizes exemplary efforts to foster success in the research and scholarship of their graduate or postgraduate students and to advance their students’ success in their professions.

Dr. Vander Wal has an outstanding record of mentoring 32 graduate and postgraduate highly qualified personnel, which includes direct output of 59 publications that have one or more highly qualified personnel as co-authors.

Distinguished Teaching

The President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, recognizing teaching excellence in the university community, was awarded to Dr. Amy

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Dr. Amy Hurford

Hurford, Department of Math, Faculty of Science; and Paul Elliot,  Ocean Technology, Marine Institute.

Dr. Hurford is an educator and researcher with 11 years of dedicated service.

Her passion for teaching is not only evident, but infectious, making even the most challenging topics engaging and accessible to her students.


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Mr. Elliott’s received this award for his dedication to the scholarship of teaching and learning, particularly through his ongoing doctoral research, is a testament to his commitment in advancing educational practices.



Outstanding Teaching

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Caroline Koenig

The President’s Award for Outstanding Teaching (Lecturers and Instructional Staff) was awarded to Caroline Koenig, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.

Ms. Koenig, the sole laboratory instructor for the Engineering 1030 course on Engineering Graphics and Design, is a seasoned educator who has left an indelible mark on Memorial University’s engineering education landscape.

Ms. Koenig has taught more than 300 students annually for more than a decade. Her commitment to teaching is not routine; it is an ongoing pursuit of improvement and innovation.

Exemplary Employees

Among those receiving President’s Awards for Exemplary Employees were Arif Abu, Natasha Clark and Paniz Saremirad (missing photo),

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Arif Abu

who are the immigration advisory team in the Internationalization Office. The trio received the Team Memorial Award.

Champion of Service Awards went to Amy Carroll, administrative staff specialist II, Office of Research and Graduate Studies, Faculty of Medicine; Nadia Simmons, senior secretary, School of Graduate Studies, Grenfell Campus; and Ellen Steinhauer, awards and honours, Office of the Vice-President (Research).

Vesna Kerezi, program manager and communication specialist, Department of Geography, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences; and Steven Bradley, budget analyst, Budget Office, Office of the Vice-President (Administration and Finance), were named Champions of Innovation.

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Natasha Clark

Together, Mr. Arif, Ms. Clark and Ms. Saremirad are Memorial University’s Immigration Advising Team.

Based in the Internationalization Office, the Immigration Advising Team plays a vital role in supporting Memorial’s 4,900-strong international student community.

The three team members tirelessly provide immigration advice to each student by collaborating with academic and service units and external agencies.

Despite their heavy workload, the team members consistently maintain a high level of service, as evidenced by the positive feedback they receive in student experience surveys.

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Amy Carroll

Ms. Carroll is a true champion of Service.

She ensures that the day-to-day operations of the office run smoothly.

She is the staff and student “go to” person for advice and support and interacts with graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and graduate supervisors daily.


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Nadia Simmons

Grenfell Campus has one graduate office serving multiple programs and Ms. Simmons is at the heart of it.

She administers procedures for all eight graduate programs and is a central resource for the associated students, faculty and staff.

She is crucial in ensuring the demands of the office are met and that student expectations are not only fulfilled, but exceeded.

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Ms. Steinhauer oversees awards and honours in the Office of the Vice-President (Research). In this role, she provides exemplary leadership by profiling Memorial University’s research accomplishments and enhancing the university’s profile nationally and internationally. For more than 16 years, Ms. Steinhauer has coordinated nominations for prestigious external awards and honours.

Public Engagement Partnership

This year, the President’s Award for Public Engagement Partnerships was awarded to Dr. Trevor Bell, Department of Geography, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences; and Dr. Katherine Wilson, Department of Geography, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences; and Andrew Arreak, for Sikumiut.

A group stand and sit in front of a wall containing a map. They are holding pieces of paper
Back row, from left are Katherine Wilson, Moses Arnagolik, Brian Koonoo, James Simonee and Andrew Arreak. Front row, from left are Ivan Koonoo, Sheati Tagak, Elijah Panipakoocho and Shelly Elverum (Ikaarvik). Missing: Caleb Sangoya, Jonathan Pitseolak, Rachel Smale, David Angnatsiak (deceased), Gamalie Kilukishak (deceased) and Jaykolassie Killiktee (deceased). They are holding copies of the illustrated ice terminology book, Sikumiut Sikuit Taigusinginnik.

The partnership included elders, hunters, youth and others documenting and sharing Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ, Inuit knowledge and values) of safe ice travel.

The partnership produced community-specific ice safety travel tools, including an illustrated ice terminology book, travel safety posters, seasonal IQ-based travel hazard maps, weekly ice travel safety maps and a computer game for school-age children.

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