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Dean’s awards

Students, staff and faculty honoured at Faculty of Science awards

Student Life

By Kelly Foss

The annual Faculty of Science Dean’s Awards ceremony was held on Memorial’s St. John’s campus and saw Dr. Mark Abrahams, dean of the Faculty of Science, recognize 282 students representing the top 10 per cent in the faculty.

During the Sept. 18 event, Dr. Abrahams also presented the Dean of Science Book Prize, awarded annually to one student in each department offering a B.Sc. program. It is awarded based on the recommendation of the head of the department on the basis of demonstrated academic excellence in the declared major.

Book Prize winners
Dean of Science Book Prize winners.
Photo: Rick Blenkinsopp

The recipients for the 2017-18 academic year are Cassidy Arnold, Department of Ocean Sciences; Sydney Boychuk, Department of Psychology; Hilary Chang, Department of Earth Sciences; Laura Dawson, Department of Biology; Marisa Dusseault, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography; Moustafa Elsisy, Department of Computer Science; Petr Kocourek, Department of Economics; Meghan Power, Department of Geography; Christopher Qiu, Department of Chemistry; Nicholas Robichaud, Department of Biochemistry; and Brady Ryan, Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

Dr. Abrahams also presented the Lou Visentin Award, the highest award for undergraduate achievement in the Faculty of Science. It recognizes students who have held a place on the dean’s list for four consecutive years. This year, 23 students were recognized for this accomplishment.

Co-op Student of the Year

Award presentation
Nicholas Fanella received the Science Co-op student of the Year award. It was picked up by Mark Sanders of Clockwork Fox Studios, where Mr. Fanella completed his work term.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Nicholas Fanella was recipient of the Science Co-op Student of the Year Award. The award recognizes a full-time undergraduate co-operative education student who has demonstrated exceptionality in all aspects of his or her academic program and work term performance.

The computer science student completed a 12-month computer industry internship option with Clockwork Fox Studios based in St. John’s. While there Mr. Fanella worked with the game development team on an educational video game for kids called Zorbit’s Math Adventure.

Distinguished Service

Nick Ryan and Mark Abrahams
Nick Ryan, right, with Dr. Mark Abrahams.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Dr. Abrahams also honoured Nicholas Ryan, an employee with the Department of Chemistry, with the Dean of Science Distinguished Service Award.

It recognizes service to the Faculty of Science superior to the normal expectations of the position. This includes maintaining high standards of performance on the job; facilitating students, faculty and colleagues in doing their work; helping make Memorial a welcoming place for everyone; and supporting outreach and community activities.

“Over the last eight years, Nicholas has led dozens of public demonstrations to promote chemistry to members of the community,” said Dr. Abrahams. “His enthusiasm for science is infectious – through his many outreach activities, many students have seen one of Nicholas’s demonstrations as a grade school or high school student.

“He accounts for a huge part of our recruiting activities, so the first contact many of our students have had with the Faculty of Science is when they attended one of Nicholas’s demonstrations as a student.”

Dr. Abrahams noted that Mr. Ryan trains and assists graduate students across the university on how to use the instrumentation in his lab. His abilities with computers and mechanical instrumentation, combined with his commitment to helping others, make him a unique asset to the Faculty of Science.

Distinguished Scholar


Award presentation
Dr. Peter Pickup, right, with Dr. Mark Abrahams.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

The Dean of Science Distinguished Scholar Medal recognizes an individual with a sustained, outstanding record of both research and teaching at Memorial.

The recommendation of the selection committee for the 2018 award is Dr. Peter Pickup, a University Research Professor in the Department of Chemistry.

“Dr. Pickup’s innovative application of fundamental physical measurements to the study of new materials has provided valuable tools for the development of advanced technologies, particularly in the area of mixed ionic-electronic conductors,” said Dr. Abrahams. “His pioneering work on the electrochemistry of conducting polymers was central to establishing this field and has provided a foundation for methodologies now being used in the commercialization of fuel cells.”

While at Memorial, Dr. Pickup has served as Chemistry’s deputy head for nine years and as head for six years. He was also a senior scientist at Ballard Power Systems for nine months. In 1995, he was appointed to Memorial’s highest rank of University Research Professor due to his consistently high level of international scholarship.

Distinguished Teacher

Award presentation
Dr. Kris Poduska with Dr. Mark Abrahams
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

The Dean of Science Distinguished Teacher Award recognizes faculty members with an extended record of excellence, creativity and commitment to teaching and learning in the Faculty of Science.

This year the award was presented to Dr. Kris Poduska, a professor and the current head of the Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography.

“Dr. Poduska has demonstrated excellence in teaching at all levels, applying principles of experiential learning in supervising research students, but more importantly focusing on how to deliver a formal undergraduate curriculum in a way that challenges, surprises and, simply, sticks,” said Dr. Abrahams.

“She has summarized her strategies as being based on a guided conceptual learning that shuns rote memorization and is tempered with a number of reflection strategies, which include in class assignments, development of problem-solving strategies, learning through discussion and an emphasis on the importance of learning transferable skills. She has continued to develop teaching strategies through participation in a range of workshops and conferences as a participant, panelist or presenter.”

In the letters of support, Dr. Abrahams said one student commented Dr. Poduska “is the highest quality instructor I experienced during my undergraduate degree … I encountered numerous students who shared this view and who were inspired by the passion for Physics she exhibits in the classroom… Kris could convince anyone to fall in love with Physics.”

A full list of student award winners is available here.

Photos from the ceremony can also be found on the Faculty of Science Facebook page.

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