Two exceptional students receive Governor General’s Academic Medal

Headshots of Raha Hassan and Sophie Poznanski

Every year, two outstanding graduating McMaster students receive the Governor General’s Academic Medal, one of the most prestigious student awards in Canada. 

Established in 1873, the award recognizes exceptional academic achievement. Earning this accolade not only places this year’s recipients among the top students to graduate from McMaster; it places them among the top students in all of Canada. 

This year’s winners — Raha Hassan and Sophie Poznanski — are being awarded the Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal, which is awarded to a student who achieves the highest academic standing at the graduate level. 

Learn more about this year’s recipients:  

Raha Hassan  

A headshot of Raha HassanHassan will graduate with a PhD from the Psychology–Research and Clinical Training Stream in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour.  

Hassan successfully defended her thesis in Spring 2023 after completing a year-long clinical psychology residency at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre in Ottawa. Her research is focused on examining behavioural and self-regulatory processes in preschoolers. 

A rising star in the field of developmental science, she has won numerous national and international awards including being named a recipient of the prestigious Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship in 2019. 

Hassan will be a two-time graduate of McMaster, having graduated with from the Honours B.A. Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour program in 2016. 

She was awarded a highly competitive tenure track assistant professor position in the Department of Psychology at Western University and began this September 2023, directly out of graduate school. 

Sophie Poznanski 

A headshot of Sophie PoznanskiPoznanski will graduate with a PhD in medical sciences from the Faculty of Health Sciences.  

Her research is in developing new effective cancer immunotherapies for poor prognosis tumours.  

During her time as a researcher in the Ashkar Lab here at McMaster, Poznanski connected with clinician researchers around the world and her work has made major breakthroughs in the field of cancer immunotherapy. 

In 2019, Sophie received a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, ranking fourth in the country-wide competition.  

Poznanski will be a two-time graduate of McMaster, having completed her Bachelor of Health Sciences in 2016.  

Following her PhD defense this summer, Sophie was recruited to a senior position in a cancer immunotherapy pharma company to head their translational research and pre-clinical development. 

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