Faculty of Science honours students, professors for excellence at annual celebration

Students and faculty received awards and recognition for their hard work and outstanding achievements at the Faculty of Science’s annual Honours and Awards Ceremony Jan. 16. Awards went to graduate and undergraduate students for both academic excellence and extra-curricular involvement, as family members in the audience cheered.

EJ Janse van Rensburg, interim dean, with keynote speaker Samer Bishay, President and CEO of Iristel and Ice Wireless

York alumnus, Samer Bishay, president and CEO of Iristel & Ice Wireless, Canada’s leading provider of wireless and wireline IP services, delivered an inspirational keynote speech to kick off the celebration. Bishay led Iristel from a small start-up to an international telecommunications service provider.

Associate Dean of Students Alex Mills and Interim Dean EJ Janse van Rensburg spoke about the dedication and time involved in achieving excellence and congratulated the students on their accomplishments.

“This is a great annual event for the Faculty of Science and our students – and their families too,” said Mills, who was the master of ceremonies. “Sometimes, the day-to-day details during the academic year can seem like a lot of toil, but an event like this reminds us that it is all worth it.”

Among the awards were those for given for Excellence in Teaching and Research Awards.

Professor Derek Jackson receives the Excellence in Teaching Award, Junior Tenure Stream Faculty

Professor Derek Jackson in the Department of Chemistry received the Excellence in Teaching Award (Junior Tenure Stream Faculty) for making organic chemistry something to look forward to rather than dread, as well as for his creativity and passion, and even his jokes. “Students appreciate his zeal, his commitment, his attention to understanding…”

Professor Patricia Lakin-Thomas in the Department of Biology received the Excellence in Teaching Award (Senior Tenure Stream Faculty) for her generosity in giving of her time to students. In addition, students consider her a “masterful lecturer who attends to processing, analyzing, and applying knowledge, not the mere memorization of it.”

Professor Jennifer Chen in the Department of Chemistry received the Early Career Research Award for her work on the materials and physical chemistry of nanostructures with potential applications ranging from solar energy conversion to biosensing.

From left, Craig White receives the Denise Hobbins Prize from Distinguished Research Professor Professor Eric Hessels

Professor Eric Hessels in the Department of Physics and Astronomy received the Established Research Award for his work using lasers to make high-precision measurements of atomic properties to test the predictions of quantum electrodynamics and the standard model of particle physics.

Professor Mark Bayfield in the Department of Biology received the Excellence in Graduate Mentorship Award. His research looks into how conserved mechanisms in RNA metabolism function in general cellular processes and adaptations to stress. As one grad student said, “As a mentor and supervisor, he helped me find my love of research and every day continues to encourage and support me any way he can.”

Students received certificates congratulating them on their awards and honours, including recipients of Carswell Scholarships, incoming PhD students who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement. They were Yilber Chivata, Richard Bloch, Brendan Boyd, Yousif Hassan, An Le, Travis Valdez, Tanushree Tiwari and Guan-Lin Zhang.

Among the graduate student awards, the CIHR Doctoral Frederick Banting & Charles Best CGS went to Wonsuk Jahng, the VISTA Graduate Scholarship went to Sohrab Salimian, Domenic Au and Gaelle Nsamba Luabeya, and the NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship – Doctoral CGS went to Alexander Klenov, Tamari Chkuaseli and Alyssa Murdoch.

In the undergraduate student award category, the Gillian E. Wu Award in Biochemistry, given to top performing female science students entering their fourth year of study in biochemistry, went to Esther Wolf and Mehakpreet Saini.

Established in 1973 to honour the late professor of biology, the Professor Ruth Hill Award goes to the top three students majoring in different science disciplines in the Faculty of Science. The recipients this year were Nicholas Chrobok, Nadav Gasner and Farzam Poorsoltanmohammadi.

The Cragg Scholarship for Academic Excellence is awarded to students who distinguished themselves academically and are enrolled full time. This year, five students received the award – Justin Kerr, Abigail Skosowski, Thomas Chan, Dar’Ya Semenova and Gordon Hawks.

For a complete list of awards and recipients, visit the Faculty of Science website.

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