Three York U graduate students earn Governor General’s Gold Medals

2024 Governor General Gold winners BANNER

Three York University graduates received this year’s Governor General’s Gold Medals, which recognize the outstanding scholastic achievements of graduate students in Canada. The 2024 recipients are Jennifer Porat, Carly Goodman and Alison Humphrey.  

The Governor General’s Academic Medals are considered the highest honour earned by exemplary Canadian scholars throughout every level of academia. This year’s awardees offered words of gratitude to their peers and mentors, and expressed what the medals mean to them, ahead of their Spring Convocation ceremonies.

Jennifer Porat

Jennifer Porat
Jennifer Porat

Porat earned a PhD in biology following the completion of her bachelor of science degree at York University. Both degrees were pursued under the mentorship of Professor Mark Bayfield in the Department of Biology. Her research focused uncovering novel functions for RNA-modifying enzymes and understanding the mechanisms by which they promote RNA function and stability to carry out different cellular processes. 

Porat credits Bayfield and his support for her decision to pursue graduate studies at York U and her positive experiences at the University. She also expresses gratitude to the Faculty of Graduate Studies – notably, its funding of conference travel that she urges other students to take advantage of.

“I’m incredibly grateful to be receiving this honour,” says Porat. “I’ve been fortunate enough to conduct research that I am passionate about, so it is very gratifying to learn that other people are excited about my work as well.”

Porat will continue that work as a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University, still focused on RNA biology, in hopes of one day running her own lab. 

Carly Goodman

Carly Goodman
Carly Goodman

Goodman earned her master’s degree in clinical developmental psychology within the neuropsychology stream. Her work has focused on conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis on the sex-specific impact of pre- and post-natal exposure to chemicals on children’s intelligence. Its aim is to provide new insights into prevention strategies and identifying high-risk groups.

Goodman chose to pursue graduate studies at York University because of its unique accreditation in clinical neuropsychology, as well as the opportunity to work under Professor Christine Till.

“Her commitment to fostering innovative research and interdisciplinary collaborations has provided me with invaluable learning experiences and opportunities,” Goodman says.

The graduand is grateful for the training in clinical practice, advanced statistics, and the social and biological determinants of health she has received at York U, which contributed to her work now being recognized.

“I am deeply honoured to receive the Governor General’s Gold Medal for the work I completed during my master’s degree,” Goodman says.

The next step of her journey will see her remain at York University as a PhD student, once more under Till’s supervision, with doctoral research that will further investigate the impact of chemicals on children’s neurodevelopment and focus on moderating variables that influence risk and resilience.

Alison Humphrey

Alison Humphrey

Humphrey earned her PhD in cinema and media studies, and pursued work with a focus on misinformation and how it draws from storytelling to engineer fear and amplify anger.

She developed a new form of participatory storytelling called “citizen science fiction,” notably through Shadowpox, a mixed-reality storyworld imagining immunization through a superhero metaphor. The project aimed to intervene in the challenge of vaccine hesitancy by helping people explore what makes scientific evidence convincing, what makes a story compelling and how trust can be built or busted to affect people’s actions.

“Receiving the Governor General’s Gold Medal confirms for me that artistic production can contribute as meaningfully to the development of knowledge as the extraordinary doctoral work being done by my peers,” says Humphrey.

Moving forward, Humphrey is pursuing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Global Strategy Lab, where she and her doctoral supervisor Professor Caitlin Fisher will invent mixed-reality interventions against antimicrobial resistance for the initiative “Catalyzing Collective Action at the Intersection of Global Health and the Arts.”

She is also looking to build on work like Shadowpox with an upcoming project called The Undergrid, which will extend the citizen science fiction methodology into climate action.

About the awards

Pierre Trudeau, Tommy Douglas, Kim Campbell, Robert Bourassa, Robert Stanfield and Gabrielle Roy are just some of the more than 50,000 people who have received a Governor General’s Academic Medal as the start of a life of accomplishment.

Today, the Governor General’s Academic Medals are awarded at four distinct levels: Bronze at the secondary school level; Collegiate Bronze at the post-secondary, diploma level; Silver at the undergraduate level; and Gold at the graduate level. Medals are presented on behalf of the Governor General by participating educational institutions, along with personalized certificates signed by the Governor General. There is no monetary award associated with the medal.