Grad students celebrate many accomplishments

October 2, 2009

    Michelle Cadieux, a second-year PhD student in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, was one of two winners of the GSA Honour Society award, cited for her work with hundreds of 7-15 year olds at McMaster's Mini-U.
More than 39 graduate students were nominated for their special accomplishments recently at the 13th annual Graduate Students Recognition Day Awards Ceremony. The event, co-sponsored by the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) and the Graduate Students Association (GSA), recognized graduate student excellence in communicating research, teaching assistance, knowledge translation and innovation, and leadership in athletics and in community service.

"Graduate students play critical roles in both McMaster's academic and research missions," said Ilene Busch-Vishniac, provost and vice-president academic. "We are extremely proud of the breadth and depth of our students' accomplishments, and we also are grateful to all the people who took the time to recommend all of our outstanding nominees."

This year saw a record number of nominees, with a near 50 per cent increase in the number of nominations, leading to a full house in CIBC Hall as nominators, nominees, and other supporters awaited the announcement of 17 winners in eight award categories. Michelle Cadieux, a second-year PhD student in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, was one of two winners of the GSA Honour Society award, cited for her work with hundreds of 7-15 year olds at McMaster's Mini-U.

"I was excited just to be nominated, and it was a very happy surprise that I won," she said. "Working with the McMaster summer camp kids was a reward in and of itself, and it was an experience I won't soon forget."

In recognition of the ways in which graduate student research and scholarship can lead to positive societal, cultural, and/or economic change, SGS introduced a new award this year: The Dean's Award in Graduate Student Knowledge Translation and Innovation. One of the inaugural winners, Mohammed Swillam, a recently graduated PhD student in Electrical and Computer Engineering, developed new computational approaches for biomedical imaging and genetic analyses.

The invaluable contributions of staff also were acknowledged through the GSA Award for Contributions by Non-Academic Staff, won by Lina Liu, research assistant in Chemical Engineering, whose work in support of graduate students has earned her the nickname "Lina the Great". University President Peter George capped off the event by presenting the "President's Awards for Excellence in Graduate Supervision" to highlight the important role of mentorship in graduate education.

"Starting September off with this celebration created a real atmosphere of inspiration and excitement for the upcoming year," said Peter Self, assistant dean, graduate student life and research training. "All of the nominees are wonderful role models for our incoming students, and we look forward to their continued success both at McMaster and beyond."

Award Winners

GSA Honour Society (A Distinguished Service Award): Michelle Cadieux (Psychology), Wasib S. Muhammad (Engineering Design)

The Dean's Award for Excellence in Communicating Graduate Research: Munir Eldesouki (Electrical and Computer Engineering), Hassan Morsy (Mechanical Engineering), Kevin Ng (Mechanical Engineering), Olsya Peshko (Computational Engineering and Science), Alireza Shoa (Electrical and Computer Engineering), Michelle Sidor (Medical Sciences)

The Dean's Award for Graduate Student Knoweldge Translation & Innovation: Mohammed Swillam (Electrical and Computer Engineering), Juliana Tricta (Medical Sciences)

Therese Quigley Award for Excellence for Graduate Student Leadership in Athletics: Gloria Spirou (Medical Physics)

Mary Keyes Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service to McMaster: Michele Donnelly (Sociology)

GSA Teaching Assistant Excellence Award: Erin Aspenlieder (English), Michael Willand (Biomedical Engineering), Carlos Zepeda-Velazquez (Chemistry)

GSA Award for Contributions by Non-Academic Staff: Lina Liu (Chemical Engineering)

The President's Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision: Dr. Susie O'Brien (English and Cultural Studies), Dr. Martin Gibala (Kinesiology)