Science celebrates academic achievement and service

Sep 30th, 2015

Kelly Foss

Science celebrates academic achievement and service

It was a full house for the recent Dean of Science Awards ceremony and reception, which was held on Memorial University’s St. John’s campus Tuesday, Sept. 22.

Dr. Andy Foster, associate dean of Science, undergraduate and administration, noted that this was the largest group ever in attendance at a dean’s list ceremony and possibly the largest number of students admitted to the dean’s list for the faculty at one time.

Dr. Mark Abrahams, dean of Science, honoured the 280 students who represent the top 10 per cent in the faculty. He also thanked the family and friends who supported the students.

During the event, Dr. Abrahams also presented the Faculty of Science Book Prize. It is chosen by each department offering a Bachelor of Science degree and goes to their top student on the basis of academic excellence. This year’s recipients included: Samuel Atkinson, Chemistry; Brian Aylward, Economics; Alexander Brandt, Computer Science; Piers Evans, Geography; Haruki Hirasawa, Physics and Physical Oceanography; Courtney Laprise, Earth Sciences; Kayleigh L. Maxwell, Biochemistry; Megan McCardle, Psychology; Paul O’Brien, Biology; and Cole Walsh, Mathematics and Statistics.

Dr. Cecilia Reynolds, deputy provost (students) and associate vice-president (academic), undergrad, also attended and presented the Lou Visentin Award, the highest award for undergraduate achievement in the Faculty of Science. It recognizes students who have held a place on the dean’s list for four consecutive years. This year, over 30 students were recognized for this accomplishment.

Dr. Abrahams also took the opportunity to present Michelle Miskell, manager of academic programs for the Department of Earth Sciences, with the Faculty of Science’s Distinguished Service Award.

The award recognizes service superior to that normally expected of staff members in areas including job performance to a high standard and/or in a manner that helps the faculty achieve its objectives; efforts that make the faculty a welcome community for students, faculty and employees; actions that help students, faculty and colleagues in their work and actions that make the faculty better known and respected in the community at large.

Ms. Miskell was nominated by the students of her department. In their nomination, the students explained how they have seen firsthand the hard work she has put into her job over the course of their degrees.

“She pushes students to be their very best, keeping in mind that not every student has the same academic ability. She wants them to challenge themselves, while putting their best effort forward. She takes a special interest in each of the students she deals with and, outside of academics, she tries to help every student lead a fulfilling life as a visitor here at Memorial.

Ms. Miskell is a genuine gem in our department and there is no one else who matches her skills and passion towards her position.”

During the ceremony, Dr. Abrahams also recognized Holly Baker (BSc.’09) as she was inducted into the Science Atlantic Hall of Fame as the organization’s Outstanding Alumni for 2015. Ms. Baker was honoured for being an exceptional science communicator.

Science Atlantic, formerly the Atlantic Provinces Council on the Sciences (APICS), is an association of 17 post secondary and research institutes in Atlantic Canada. Its mission is to advance post-secondary science education and research in the region by providing opportunities that foster and enrich students, supporting and inspiring researchers and educators, and using their collective voice to address important regional science issues.

The award recognizes former students from Atlantic Canada who excelled at a Science Atlantic or APICS student conference and then went on to meaningful careers.

Holly Baker completed her BSc. in physics, graduating with honours. As an undergrad she volunteered and worked part time for Women in Science and Engineering Newfoundland and Labrador (WISE NL). She was also an active member of the Physics and Physical Oceanography Student Society. Following her degree, she went on to Laurentian University in Sudbury to earn a graduate diploma in Science Communication and later worked as program administrator for WISE NL. In 2012 she took on her current role as assistant coordinator of outreach at Let’s Talk Science. Throughout her time at Memorial, Holly worked as a researcher in Dr. Kris Poduska’s lab. It was Dr. Poduska who nominated her for the Hall of Fame.

“Holly is a natural leader who has an infectious confidence and enthusiasm,” she wrote in her nomination package. “Not only is she an effective communicator and organizer, but she also has superb people skills.”

A full list of student award winners is available here: