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Dean’s Awards

Students, staff and faculty honoured at Faculty of Science awards

Teaching and Learning

By Kelly Foss

The Faculty of Science held its annual Dean’s Awards ceremony recently, recognizing the top 10 per cent of its students.

This year, 363 students made the Dean’s List — the largest number in the faculty’s history.

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

Faculty of Science Book Prize winners with Dr. Travis Fridgen.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

The recipients for the 2020-21 academic year are Cassandra Clowe-Coish, Physics and Physical Oceanography; Ian Coxon, Earth Sciences; Emily Granter, Psychology; Gabrielle Large, Biology; Darren Li Chong Youne Li Hiung, Ocean Sciences; Brianna McDonald, Computer Science; Nathan Pitts, Biochemistry; Claire Roberts, Geography; Andrew Seviour, Economics; Willow Squires, Chemistry; and Anders Cornect, Mathematics and Statistics.

Faculty of Science Visentin Award winners with Dr. Travis Fridgen.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Dr. Fridgen also presented the Lou Visentin Award, the highest award for undergraduate achievement in the Faculty of Science. It recognizes the students who have held a place on the Dean’s List for four consecutive years. In 2020-21, 24 students were honoured for this achievement.

Co-op Student of the Year

Suhail Hassan received the Science Co-op Student of the Year Award. It 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.

From left are Suhail Hassan and Dr. Donna Hardy-Cox.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

She was chosen for her “extraordinary commitment to students’ well-being, along with a willingness to go above and beyond in all responsibilities since beginning an internship at Memorial University’s Internationalization Office.”

Ms. Hassan developed the concept for a networking and information session surrounding the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program. Upon approval, she assumed the role of project lead, completing research, needs assessment and event design, eventually securing participation from both the provincial and federal government.

Distinguished Service

This year’s Dean of Science Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes service to the Faculty of Science superior to the normal expectations of the position, was presented to Nancy Bishop, interdisciplinary graduate program co-ordinator.

From left are Nancy Bishop and Dr. Travis Fridgen.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

“Ms. Bishop’s job is inherently complex due to the large number of students she is responsible for, the diverse nature of their programs and the role she has connecting people and units across the St. John’s, Grenfell and Marine Institute campuses,” said one nominator.

“While responding quickly, concisely and compassionately to all inquiries, she also pays attention to the well-being of students, faculty and staff.”

Ms. Bishop routinely makes efforts to help graduate students in need, particularly those in vulnerable groups.

Distinguished Emerging Scholar

This year, for the first time, the Dean of Science Distinguished Emerging Scholar Award was presented. It recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to both teaching and research in the Faculty of Science up to the point at which they receive tenure.

From left are Dr. J. Kim Welford and Dr. Travis Fridgen.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Nominees are adjudicated based on the quality, excellence and impact of their research program, as well as the quality and excellence of their teaching and supervision.

Dr. Michael Katz and Dr. J. Kim Welford both received the award for 2020-21.

Dr. Welford joined the Department of Earth Sciences in February 2016. Since that time, she established an externally funded research program and created the Memorial Applied Geophysics for Rift Tectonics, or MAGRiT, research group.

In addition to supervising more than 20 graduate and undergraduate students and post-doctoral fellows, her research highlights include co-authoring approximately 40 peer-reviewed publications, about half of those as first author; 20 expanded abstracts and more than 50 conference presentations.

Dr. Welford has also been awarded more than $725,000 in personal research grants; is co-principal investigator and collaborator on another $700,000; and co-principal investigator on a successful Canada Foundation for Innovation proposal for nearly $6 million for a national facility for seismic imaging. She is also well-known for her academic service.

Dr. Michael Katz and Dr. Travis Fridgen
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Dr. Michael Katz joined the Department of Chemistry in January 2015 and received the Terra Nova Young Innovator Award in 2016.

In his first six years at Memorial, Dr. Katz received an RDC Ignite grant, an NSERC Discovery grant and an NSERC RTI with matching funds from RDC. Other funding led to a project that was patented and a student involved in it was part of a Lab2Market cohort helping to transition the work from the lab to the market.

Dr. Katz published 11 manuscripts and one patent from his independent research program, and an additional 13 publications from remnant PhD and post-doctoral work and mentorship. He is also an active member of the department, serving as deputy head of undergraduate studies.

Distinguished Scholar

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

The 2020-21 recipient is Dr. Matthew Rise, Department of Ocean Sciences. He joined the department in 2006 and has been a full professor since 2016.

Dr. Rise’s research and teaching focus on molecular biology, specifically in the use of fundamental genomic tools and techniques to study genes and molecular pathways involved in aquatic animal growth, development and responses to pathogens, environmental stressors and dietary manipulation.

He held a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Marine Biotechnology from 2006 to 2016 and received the Terra Nova Young Innovator Award in 2011.

Dr. Rise leads several large research programs that allow him to mentor many highly qualified personnel, ranging from undergraduate students to post-doctoral fellows. In 2019 he received a Memorial University School of Graduate Studies ROCKStar Supervisor Award.

Distinguished Teacher

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. Suzanne Dufour, Department of Biology, and Dr. Patrick Gagnon, Department of Ocean Sciences.

Dr. Suzanne Dufour and Dr. Travis Fridgen
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Dr. Suzanne Dufour believes in the potential of her students and works hard to support their learning at a critical phase of the development as scientists and informed citizens.

She joined the Faculty of Science in 2009 and makes use of a range of techniques, combining relatable and thought-provoking content with student-driven learning activities and experimentation. Her ultimate goal is to help students gain a better appreciation of the natural world and how they relate to it.

Previously she served as associate head (undergraduate) for the department and chaired its Undergraduate Studies Committee. Currently she serves as the acting associate dean of science (undergraduate and administration).

During the pandemic, Dr. Dufour ensured honours students were able to complete their theses. She came up with a compromise that allowed students to still get the experience of presenting their work in an academic environment.

Dr. Patrick Gagnon joined Memorial University in 2007. Since that time, he has taught or co-taught a number of courses at the undergraduate and graduate level for the departments of Biology and Ocean Sciences. This includes Ocean Sciences’ three flagship courses: Introduction to Biological Oceanography, Introduction to Practical Ocean Sciences and Biological Oceanography.

Dr. Gagnon also helped shape curriculum development as a longstanding member of the Biology Undergraduate Studies Committee and in the development of the Ocean Sciences’ undergraduate and graduate curriculum. His work in this area is a prime example of leadership, perseverance and vision that positively impacts his colleagues and benefits the Department of Ocean Sciences as it grows as an academic department.

A full list of student award winners is available here and video of the event can be viewed here.

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


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