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Studies and service

Earth Sciences recognizes academic achievement and community involvement

Student Life

By Kelly Foss

Nearly $200,000 was awarded in student scholarship funds during the Department of Earth Sciences’ annual scholarship and awards ceremony in April.

The 40 awards recognized academic achievement, financial need and community involvement.

First in four years

Dr. Greg Dunning, head, Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science, says it’s the first time they have held the event in four years, due to the pandemic.

“These awards are given to graduate students and undergraduates beyond their first year,” he said. “When we began planning for this event, we realized our current students had never heard of it before because none of them had ever been to one.”

He says some of the awards being recognized were adjudicated by other units on campus and awarded in 2022.

“This ceremony is to recognize all of our award winners from the previous year in one place, at one time,” said Dr. Dunning. “However, about a third of the recipients have graduated and are already working, so they are unable to be with us today.”

Donor families recognized

Dr. Dunning also acknowledged the special guests from industry, as well as the family members of individuals for whom some of the department’s scholarships are named.

One of those awards, the Dennis R. Prince Memorial Scholarship, was presented by Glenys Prince to Taylor Mugford.

“Some students covet this award because it’s different from all the rest,” said Dr. Dunning. “In addition to the scholarship, it includes a Brunton compass engraved with their name. The compass recognizes a career pointing towards studies in mineral exploration and development.”

Eleanor Swanson, a member of Memorial’s Board of Regents, was on hand to present the Eric A. Swanson Scholarship in Earth Sciences in honour of her father, a geologist at the Buchans Mine for over 30 years. This year’s recipient was Shramana Sarkar.

Honouring ‘a champion’

Among those in attendance were members of the Blackwood family, who were there for the presentation of the inaugural R. Frank Blackwood Memorial Award in Geoscience.

They included R. Frank Blackwood’s son, Michael Blackwood, and sisters Angela Blackwood Pike, Donna Blackwood and Marlene Browne.

A group shot of six individuals standing in front of large scale images of various landscapes.
From left are the family of Frank Blackwood: son Michael Blackwood and sisters Angela Blackwood Pike, Donna Blackwood and Marlene Browne, with Gabrielle Ledesma and her supervisor, Dr. Mike Babechuk.
Photo: Kelly Foss

The new award was funded in honour of a well-known, “super-active” geologist who graduated from Memorial in 1976, says Dr. Dunning.

“He was a big fan of Memorial and a champion of geoscience generally,” he said. “Baxter Kean, with Earth Sciences professor, Steve Piercey, both alumni of the department, led the charge to raise funding for this award, which came from friends, industry and corporate donations.”

The R. Frank Blackwood Memorial Award in Geoscience is awarded to a full-time graduate student in the Department of Earth Sciences undertaking field-based geoscientific research as part of their thesis research.

While field-based studies are the main criteria for the award, service and contributions to the geoscience community and organizations will also be considered.

Qualified students must demonstrate strong personal values, including a strong work ethic and personal integrity.

Student Gabrielle Ledesma is the inaugural recipient.

Additional photos from the event can be found on the Department of Earth Sciences’ Twitter feed.


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