Across Canada and around the world, Waterloo alumni are making significant contributions to their University, their professions, and their communities. The Alumni Awards recognize these individuals and their efforts to build a better world.
Faculty of Arts
Susheel Gupta LL.B. (BA ’93): Alumni Achievement Award
Susheel Gupta (BA ’93) received his BA in History in 1993. He went on to earn his LLB from the University of Ottawa in 1998 and was called to the bar in 2000. Most recently he was the Vice-Chairperson of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.
He is the 2016 recipient of the Ontario Bar Association's President's Award for his work and dedication to the rights of victims of crime and the improvement of the justice system.
Prior to his time at the Tribunal he worked with the Department of Justice War Crimes Section, was Special Advisor to the President and CEO at CATSA, and has been a Federal Prosecutor/Computer Crime Advisor with the Department of Justice.
Susheel volunteers extensively with organizations dedicated to educating young people on Canada’s justice system and with organizations involved in supporting and advocating for victims of crime in Canada and internationally.
On a more personal note, Susheel has also been active as an advocate for victims of terrorism. He was 12 years old when his mother was murdered on board Air India Flight 182. It was this terrorist incident and tragedy that led him down the path to a career working in the public service.
Mandy Ran Tao (BA ’11): Young Alumni Award
Having founded one NGO, hiked two volcanoes, completed three marathons, learned four languages, and lived in five countries, Mandy Ran Tao (BA ’11) is a well-rounded individual and a proud Faculty of Arts alumnus.
Mandy currently serves as Director of Strategy at Merck, working alongside the executive team to manage high impact projects for the business, and launch and scale new cross-functional programs.
Passionate about diversity, inclusion, and equality, Mandy spearheaded many initiatives through “Lean IN Frankfurt” and “Lean IN Chapter Europe,” where she serves as a leadership team member. In 2017, Mandy was commended by Sheryl Sandberg for carrying the “Lean IN” flag to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro (5,895m, 19,341ft) to inspire women to achieve their ambitions.
Previously, Mandy co-founded the award-winning NGO called “Education Togo Switzerland” to make education and learning more accessible for students in Africa. With €50,000 raised, the team funded school buildings and computer labs in rural communities across the region – an initiative that has supported over 1,500 local students to date.
During her undergraduate studies, Mandy received the “President’s Circle Award for Volunteerism” from David Johnston in recognition of her commitment to the University and local community at large. After graduation, Mandy traveled through Central and South America, and subsequently moved to Switzerland on a full, merit-based scholarship.
Mandy is a seasoned traveler and enjoys stepping out of her comfort zone to build genuine connections with people from all walks of life.
School of Accounting and Finance
Betty Ann Jarrett (MAcc ’86): Alumni Achievement Award
Betty Ann Jarrett (MAcc ’86) CPA, CA, is Global Partner Affairs Leader, PwC International. In this role, Betty Ann, and her team, are responsible for supporting the PwC Network Leadership and the Global Board in matters dealing with partners in network leadership roles and human capital matters for staff reporting to them. She is also the PwC Global Tax Human Capital Leader, helping the tax practice to transform its people model to drive its business strategy. Prior to these roles, Betty Ann was a Corporate Tax Partner, providing corporate tax services to large and medium-sized multinational corporations for 25 years, including advising clients on tax planning and compliance, mergers & acquisitions, tax accounting, and assistance with tax authority audits. She continues to be an active coach and mentor. She graduated from the Masters of Accounting program at the University of Waterloo in 1986.
Betty Ann is the Vice-Chair of the Oakville Hospital Foundation and the Chair of its Finance, Risk, Audit and Investment Committee. She is also a member of the Audit Committee of the Oakville Community Foundation. She was also a volunteer and team manager for many years for the Oakville Basketball Club. She is married to Brian, and has two adult children, Kaitlyn and Kevin.
Kevin Strain (MAcc ’90): Alumni Achievement Award
Kevin Strain (MAcc ’90) is currently the Executive Vice-President & Chief Financial Officer at Sun Life Financial. He is responsible for Sun Life’s worldwide Finance, Taxation, Capital and Investor Relations, Enterprise Services and Corporate Development. Kevin has previously held several senior roles, including Vice-President of Investor Relations for Sun Life’s Corporate Office, and Senior Vice-President of Sun Life’s Individual Insurance and Investments division in Canada. Prior to this, Kevin was President, Sun Life Financial Asia where he was responsible for Sun Life’s interests in Asia, including identifying opportunities for growth in the region and managing the company’s relationships with its partners. He is a Chartered Accountant and graduated from the Masters of Accounting degree from the University of Waterloo in 1990.
In addition, Kevin continues to be involved with the School of Accounting and Finance. Previously, he did so as an honouree and helped mentor students, but since 2010, he has been serving as a member of the School of Accounting and Finance’s Director’s Advisory Council.
Shubham Datta (BMath ’13): Young Alumni Award
Shubham Datta is the Corporate Development Manager at Shopify where he identifies disruptive commerce experiences and accelerates Shopify's product roadmap through acquisitions. Prior to Shopify, he helped fund, grow and exit technology companies, particularly those in the SaaS and commerce sectors as a Director at SurePath Capital Partners. Shubham enjoys helping founders and entrepreneurs reach their full potential. He obtained his BMath from the University of Waterloo in 2013 and earned his CPA through KPMG.
Outside of work, Shubham is an avid sports fan and likes to watch every sport especially basketball, hockey and cricket. In his spare time, he enjoys following the latest trends in consumer technology, and writing his thoughts on his blog (www.medium.com/@shubham). He also hosts the Backbone (www.thebackbone.co), a podcast exploring the journey inside the finances at a startup, where he interviews finance leaders at technology companies at various stages of the company. Shubham has also made appearances on BNN Bloomberg, sharing his thoughts on technology and venture capital landscape.
Nitish Sharma (BMath ’14): Young Alumni Award
Nitish Sharma (BMath ’14) is an investment professional at InstarAGF Asset Management Inc., a middle-market infrastructure private equity firm, where he is focused on making investments in high quality infrastructure in North America. Working as an investor, Nitish is passionate about providing capital to infrastructure businesses and opportunities to help see them grow and flourish. Previously, Nitish has worked as a Senior Consultant at Oliver Wyman, where he provided strategic advice to a number of the largest global financial services firms through developing novel credit modeling methodologies, as well as telecommunications and local not-for-profit firms. Nitish graduated from the BMath program from the University of Waterloo in 2014.
In his spare time, Nitish exemplifies leadership — serving as a Director and Chair of the International Affairs Committee of the World Parkinson’s Program (WPP), a charity focused on helping manage Parkinson’s disease. In this role, he has expanded WPP’s chapter footprint to over 25 sites globally and provided assistive devices and aids to over 100 patients in need in developing countries. Nitish is also currently engaged in a number of mentoring efforts through SAF’s Student Investment Fund and Junior Achievement.
School of Pharmacy
Kaitlin Bynkoski (BScPhm ’13, PharmD ’17): Alumni Achievement Award
Kaitlin Bynkoski (BScPhm ’13, PharmD ’17) graduated from the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy in 2013, receiving the honour of the Ontario Pharmacists Association Student of the Year Award. In 2017, she earned her PharmD from Waterloo Pharmacy through the PharmD bridging program.
Kaitlin is the Medication Safety Pharmacist at Health Sciences North, a 450+ bed hospital in Sudbury. In this role, she has introduced innovative safety initiatives such as safeguarding high-alert/critical medications, independent double check procedures, recreation of the hospital’s formulary to incorporate evidence-based inclusion criteria, and much more. In her patient safety role, she consistently promotes pharmacy participation on interdisciplinary teams responsible for quality and patient safety reviews and hospital accreditation and leads patient-centered processes for change.
She also works in community pharmacy, with an emphasis on providing care to patients with substance use disorders. Kaitlin’s proficient and empathetic approach has been critical in building trusting relationships with her patients, and helping to combat the opioid crisis, a public health issue that is particularly severe in Sudbury. Kaitlin also volunteers at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and leads the Pharmacy Journal Club, an initiative which has helped address the educational needs of clinicians in her community.
Kaitlin continues to be involved in the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy as a preceptor for both co-op and PharmD clinical rotations, and as the regional clinical coordinator for the Sudbury and Manitoulin Island regions as she strives to discover and develop unique emerging placements for pharmacy students.
Faculty of Applied Health Sciences
Krista McKerracher (BSc ’84): Alumni Achievement Award
A graduate of the Faculty’s Health Studies co-op program in 1984, Krista McKerracher (BSc ’84) entered the pharmaceuticals field in Ontario in 1985. Her career trajectory took her from a sales representative with Merrell Pharmaceutical, into the biotech area as a Product Specialist with Ortho Biotech (a Johnson & Johnson company), to Vice President, Global Franchise Program Head, Oncology Global Development at Novartis pharmaceuticals in the United States. There, she led three global cross-functional development teams across three sites in the U.S. and Europe. Her teams developed two life-saving “orphan drugs” (pharmaceuticals that remain commercially undeveloped, often because they are used to treat rare medical conditions), achieving approval for launch in more than 100 countries.
A true pioneer, Krista founded Fig Advisory in the summer of 2017, a consultancy that works with the CEOs of small biopharmaceutical companies. She is a mentor with SpringBoard, an incubator for high-growth technology-oriented companies led by women, and also brings her unique skills to CRISPR Therapeutics, a company developing ground-breaking gene-editing technology that engineers blood stem cells and corrects mutations that cause disease in patients with blood diseases. She and her team aspire to cure sickle cell disease and β thalassemias.
Rachel Thompson (BSc ’15): Young Alumni Award
Rachel Thompson (BSc ’15) has taken an idea and turned it into a profitable company since her graduation. Formed from merging the names of both her grandmothers — Marilyn and Helena — Marlena Books is a social enterprise that provides meaningful leisure and cognitive stimulation in the form of reading materials to those with Alzheimer's, dementia or other cognitive disorders. In doing so, Rachel has found a way for these individuals to maintain their well-being and their relationships with family members and friends.
Self-described as an “accidental entrepreneur,” Rachel started her company after winning the Big Ideas Challenge hosted by St. Paul’s GreenHouse in 2015. She joined GreenHouse with the determination to help make reading enjoyable and dignified again for individuals with dementia. Her vision of providing more support to adults with cognitive deficits motivated her to apply to the Velocity Garage and she was accepted. Like any social entrepreneur, Rachel faced many obstacles in bringing her vision to life. Despite starting her business with limited resources, she has built an organization that has brought hundreds of books and hands-on programming to multiple long-term care facilities across Ontario in the short span of under three years.
Faculty of Engineering
Frank J. Gerencser (BASc ’84): Alumni Achievement Medal, Professional Achievement
Frank Gerencser (BASc ’84) has been described as an innovator at heart and a great example of what never-ending hard work and a wholehearted commitment to excellence can achieve.
As co-founder of the highly successful triOS College, he is all that and much more. After graduating from the Faculty of Engineering in 1984 with a systems design engineering degree, Frank started his career in IT sales and distribution. Seven years later he co-founded triOS Corporation, offering corporate training and support to the employees of banks, insurance companies, and various other businesses.
Since then, triOS has grown into one of Canada’s largest and most successful private career colleges, with campuses in nine major cities in Ontario — Windsor, London, Kitchener, Hamilton, Mississauga, Brampton, Toronto, Scarborough, and Oshawa. The college offers diploma programs across five faculties and has helped tens of thousands of students become job-ready graduates.
In 2014, Frank and his business partner Stuart Bentley acquired what’s now called Eastern College with four campuses located across Atlantic Canada in Halifax, Moncton, Saint John, and Fredericton.
triOS also has a spin-off software startup called Lifecycle Systems. Altogether, the company has about 500 staff, including 300 faculty members, and over 3,500 adult students.
As Chief Executive Officer of triOs, Frank has been able to deliver successful results in a business where others have not and this has been demonstrated regularly through his exceptional managerial skills, entrepreneurial spirit and professional achievements.
triOS has been recognized as one of Canada’s best managed companies by Deloitte, CIBC, the National Post, Queen’s School of Business and the MacKay CEO Forum. As an individual, Frank was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contribution to the Career College sector in Ontario.
Frank takes great pride in his company, his students, and his alma mater, and continues to provide students with the practical skills and knowledge that are essential in succeeding in today’s competitive job market.
Mostafa H. Ammar (PhD ’85): Alumni Achievement Medal, Academic Excellence
Mostafa Ammar (PhD ’85) joined the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1985 after completing his doctorate in electrical engineering at the University of Waterloo. Since then, his career has been nothing short of spectacular. Described as a maverick and a visionary as a researcher, Mostafa has made profound contributions to the field computer networks. Mostafa’s research has focused on the delivery of communication services to a large number of users. He has worked on the dimensioning of digital broadcast systems for satellites, and has been a pioneer in scalable multimedia services, replication services and large-scale optical networks.
His achievements are reflected in the numerous honours he’s received, including the Outstanding Service Award from the IEEE Technical Committee on Computer Communications.
Mostafa has managed a research group in computer networking for over 30 years and has more than 16,000 citations to his name.
He is currently a Regent’s Professor in the School of Computer Science, a position that is a rank above a “full” professor and is only awarded to select faculty at Georgia Tech. Mostafa is recognized as one of Georgia Tech’s best teachers and is a multi-time recipient of the university’s teaching effectiveness award. The award, based on student feedback for instructor effectiveness, is only given to faculty members with the highest scores. His considerable impact can also be measured by the long list of his former PhD students who have moved on to highly successful careers in academia and industry.
Sam Emaminejad (BASc ’09): Young Alumni Achievement Medal
Sam Emaminejad (BASc ’09) graduated from the electrical engineering program in 2009 with distinction and on the dean’s honour list. He went on to complete his master’s and doctorate in electrical engineering at Stanford University. Since 2016, he’s been a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UCLA. In just over two years, Sam has made an incredible impact at UCLA — both in the research lab and the classroom.
One of Sam’s major achievements to date has been designing a wearable wristband that continuously gathers health-related data obtained from sweat to diagnose diseases including cystic fibrosis and diabetes. The advanced technology works without breaking the skin, and importantly, without requiring a visit to the doctor’s office.
Dino Di Carlo, the director of the Cancer Nanotechnology Program at UCLA, describes Sam as a unique individual who will no doubt have a dominant role in shaping the future of continuous health diagnostics. Sam has also established himself as an outstanding teacher and mentor. He received exceptional teaching scores for a new graduate course he developed on the topic of biosensors.
He regularly goes above and beyond to help his graduate students achieve their highest potential and support the master’s students in his lab to transfer into UCLA’s PhD program.
Sam proactively seeks opportunities to expose students to his research and organize campus-based initiatives that promote diversity in the STEM fields. His outreach activities have resulted in the recruitment of 13 undergraduates and three high school students for his lab.
As a young alumnus, Sam has already made significant research contributions in developing an unprecedented non-invasive wearable device designed for disease diagnosis and bridged the long-standing gap between the Internet of Things and personalized medicine.
David H. Au-Yeung (BASc ’04), Matthew Cheung (BASc ’04), David C. Meyers (BASc ’04), Wehuns Tan (BASc ’04): Team Alumni Achievement Medal
More than two years after graduating from Waterloo in 2004, David, Matthew, David and Wehuns were all putting their engineering degrees to good use at good jobs. But that wasn’t what they really wanted. Close friends since their first year of Waterloo’s computer engineering program, the foursome from the Toronto area still had their sights set on becoming entrepreneurs.
That day came in 2007 when they all packed in their jobs and launched a company called Wishabi to provide consumers with an online platform for comparison shopping. Six years later, they launched the Flipp app and the company was soon rebranded because of the quick consumer brand traction. Based in Toronto, Flipp Corporation now has over 800 employees and is the leading mobile application for digital flyers in North America.
The Flipp app has been downloaded more than 40 million times and displays flyers from 90 per cent of the continent’s largest retailers, including Walmart, Target, Kroger, Macys and Dollar General. Last year alone, Flipp was used to open a staggering 1.8 billion publications as consumers searched for deals and planned shopping trips for groceries, home renovation supplies, pet products, electronics and clothing. The app is creating a real difference in the lives of everyday consumers by helping families save 20 to 40 per cent off their weekly grocery bills.
What’s inspiring about the computer engineering graduates is their risk-taking spirit that they trace back to the Faculty of Engineering. The four are all true entrepreneurs who have gone far beyond successfully disrupting the print flyer industry.
Faculty of Environment
Kevin O'Reilly (BES ’81, MA ’84): Distinguished Alumni Award
Kevin O'Reilly (BES ’81, MA ’84) is a member of the Legislative Assembly for Frame Lake, NWT Legislative Assembly in Yellowknife. With more than two decades of environmental and social justice advocacy, he is a national expert on abandoned mines, the perpetual care of contaminated sites, and independent environmental monitoring and oversight boards.
As co-founder of the socio-economic and environmental justice organization Alternatives North, O’Reilly was an Intervener on the Mackenzie Gas Project and later served the same role for the Giant Mine, an abandoned diamond mine that had left hundreds of thousands of tonnes of insecurely stored arsenic trioxide in close proximity to the city of Yellowknife and its water source. His many years of work resulted in a thorough environmental review of the clean-up plan, the conception, development and long-term funding of a formalized agreement between government and public partners, and implementation of a public interest oversight board. For these efforts, O’Reilly received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for service on environmental issues.
O’Reilly also served as Executive Director of the Independent Environmental Monitoring Agency where he oversaw the closure of the Ekati diamond mine and was instrumental in creating an environmental review process while promoting and ensuring the participation of both professional scientists and indigenous communities.
Under O’Reilly’s leadership, IEMA became known both nationally and internationally for its excellent work promoting effective environmental management and providing a definitive example of responsible resource management bringing critical oversight, public involvement and transparency to ensure environmental protection of the commons.
Dominique Souris (BES ’16): Young Alumni Award
Dominique Souris (BES ‘16) is co-founder and executive director of Youth Climate Lab (YCL), a global non-profit that mobilizes youth toward climate action through innovative initiatives advancing climate policy and entrepreneurship.
Her passion for international climate policy was sparked while she was still a UWaterloo student. Souris attended the 2013 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Poland, where she volunteered to negotiate on behalf of the Island nation of Seychelles. Since then, she has returned to many UNFCCC proceedings, forging countless relationships with diplomats, politicians and non-profit leaders, and mentoring other student delegations.
As a graduate student at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and formerly as Graduate Research Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), her research explores innovative finance for climate change impacts and refugee responsibility sharing. It has been recognized both by the World Refugee Council, who will be developing the work, and by the Government of Canada, who named her a finalist in the International Policy Innovation Challenge.
Souris was named one of Canada’s Top 30 under 30 Sustainability Leaders, one of six World Environment Day Youth Ambassadors by Minister McKenna and one of 25 Global Shapers to attend the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit. Most recently, she was recognized as one of the world’s top 100 visionary leaders by Real Leaders. Souris sits on a number of boards and councils, including the Steering Committee of Eco Canada Environmental Training Development, the board of the Foundation for Environmental Stewardship and the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Canada Advisory Council.
Faculty of Mathematics
Sam Pasupalak (BCS '12): Young Alumni Achievement Medal
Sam Pasupalak was the Co-Founder and CEO of Maluuba, a Canadian Technology company conducting research in artificial intelligence and language understanding. Founded in 2011, the company was acquired by Microsoft in 2017. Sam founded Maluuba with the vision to solve Artificial General Intelligence by creating literate machines that can think, reason and communicate like humans.
Sam is currently pursuing a Masters degree at the London School of Economics. He is also an Entrepreneur in Residence at iNovia Capital, based out of London, UK.
Sam graduated from the University of Waterloo in 2012 with a BSC in Computer Science.
Eddie Cheng (MMath '90, PhD '95): Alumni Achievement Medal
Eddie Cheng is Distinguished Professor of Mathematics in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Oakland University in Michigan. He joined the faculty of Oakland University as an assistant professor in 1997, promoted to associate professor in 2001, promoted to professor in 2007 and given the title of distinguished professor in 2011. He served as Chair of the department from 2010 to 2013, and as Acting Chair in Winter 2016. Professor Cheng graduated with a BSc (Hons.) from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1988. During the summer of 1988, he worked as a research assistant in the Department of National Defence in British Columbia. For his graduate studies, he earned his MMath in 1990 and PhD in Combinatorics and Optimization from the University of Waterloo in 1995. His thesis was on polyhedral aspects of the optimal stable set problem, supervised by Bill Cunningham. From 1995 to 1997, he was a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow and part-time lecturer in the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University.
Professor Cheng is active in promoting mathematics competition among high school students in Michigan, in particular, the Michigan Mathematics Prize Competition (MMPC), which is an event operated by the Mathematical Association of America (Michigan Section). It is a state-wide competition given every year to thousands of high school students in Michigan. He was a member of the examination committee of MMPC in 2001–2005, 2008–2012 and 2013–2017, and he served as its Director from 2005 to 2008. For the years that he was not serving as an officer, he participated as a grader. He received a Michigan Mathematics Prize Competition Service Award in 2011.
Professor Cheng is the Director of the Oakland University Summer Mathematics Institute (OUSMI), a position he started in 2002, after serving as its Associate Director. The OUSMI provides a free opportunity for bright and gifted pre-college students to interact with university faculty and each other, to take some challenging math classes that earn college credit, and have fun in an academic atmosphere. The Institute runs approximately from late June through the first week of August each summer. All aspects of the day camp are free (including university tuition and fees, books, tutoring and counseling, lunch and supplies) and it is funded by an anonymous donor. Professor Cheng also mentors a selected group of OUSMI students every year via research projects, an activity that he enjoys very much. Over the years, Professor Cheng has mentored over 40 high school students resulting in about 25 publications. Many of these projects won prizes at the Detroit Science Fair and some had advanced to semifinals and beyond at national competitions for high school students such as the Siemens Competitions, the Intel Science Talent Search and the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Professor Cheng enjoys mentoring undergraduate and graduate students at Oakland University, and he has supervised four PhD students. He is the recipient of the 2007 Mathematical Association of America (Michigan Section) Distinguished Teaching Award and a recipient of the 2009 Professor of the Year Award from the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan. He also received a Frederick Emmons Terman Engineering Scholastic Award from the School of Engineering at Stanford University in 2016 for his contributions to the education of high school students in general, and in particular for his influence on Sachin Padmanabhan, a graduating senior, who had worked with Professor Cheng on a research project at the OUSMI.
Professor Cheng was a member of a National Science Foundation funded Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) program at Oakland University from 2008 to 2013. During the duration of this program, he, together with Professor Liptàk, mentored 17 students resulting in about 10 publications.
Professor Cheng also provides service to the profession. Currently, he is an editor or associate editor of a number of journals including Networks (Wiley), International Journal of Machine Learning and Cybernetics (Springer), Discrete Applied Mathematics (Elsevier), Journal of Interconnection Networks (World Scientific), International Journal of Computer Mathematics: Computer Systems Theory (Taylor & Francis), International Journal of Parallel, Emergent and Distributed Systems (Taylor & Francis), and Parallel Processing Letters (World Scientific).
Keith Farlinger (BMath '77): Alumni Achievement Medal
Mr. Keith Farlinger has been Chief Executive Officer of BDO International Limited since November 1, 2017. Mr. Farlinger served as Chief Executive Officer of BDO Canada LLP from September 18, 2008 to June 30, 2015. He served as Regional Managing Partner of BDO the Toronto region. He has over 35 years of experience providing auditing, business planning and financial consulting services and holds leadership positions in the accounting industry and with a number of business associations. He serves on the BDO’s Management Team and has been on its Policy Board serving as Chair in 1997/1998. He was the Chair of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario (ICAO) from 2006 to 2008 and has been a member of the governing council since 2001. He was previously a member of the ICAO Bylaws Review Committee and Bylaws Working Group and Chair of the ICAO Doctoral Studies Committee, Education Program Administration and Examination Committee. He is also actively involved in his alma mater, the University of Waterloo, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Mathematics in 1977. He was the founding President of the Waterloo Accounting Alumni Association (Toronto Chapter) and is a member of the Capital Campaign Committee of the School of Accountancy. Mr. Farlinger received his CA designation in 1978 and his FCA in 1997.
Alex Nicolaou (BMath '93, MMath '99): J.W. Graham Medal in Computing & Innovation
Alex joined Google in 2006, shortly after Google opened an office in Waterloo, Ontario, where his initial work was leading the development of Google’s mobile apps including Gmail, Buzz, and YouTube amongst others. He is now leading a Chrome and ChromeOS effort focused on bringing ChromeOS to new devices.
Until 2006, he was president and a board member of aruna.ca Inc., a startup developing a unique RDBMS based on text-search algorithms and data structures. Prior to that, he was part of LiquiMedia Inc., a startup developing a real time kernel extension and Java Virtual Machine. In 1996, Jay Steele and Alex won the games category of the Java Cup Competition run by Sun Microsystems.
Alex holds an Honours BMath in Computer Science and Combinatorics and Optimization and a MMath in Computer Graphics, both from the University of Waterloo.
Faculty of Science
Martha Breithaupt Oner (BSc ’01): Young Alumni Award
As partner at Grant Thornton, a leading accounting and business advisory firm operating in 130 countries, Martha Breithaupt Oner (BSc ’01) is the co-lead of the global Innovation & Investment Incentives practice and elected member of the Partnership Board. Martha helps clients attain funding for innovation, hiring, and market expansion.
A recognized trailblazer with drive, leadership, and passion, Martha was a Protégé in the Top 100 Wisdom II Program (Women’s Executive Network), has achieved the European Quality Award coaching designation from the European Mentoring and Coaching Council, and was a member of CPA Canada’s Scientific Research and Experimental Development Symposium Advisory Committee. Martha is regularly featured on radio, television, and in print to promote research and development across Canada. She has contributed to organizations including Toronto Board of Trade, Communitech, and Business News Network.
In addition to her volunteer roles as a Director of Kawasaki Disease Canada, Junior Achievement mentor, and recreational soccer coach, Martha is a very proud mom of two future UWaterloo students.
April Pawluk (BSc ’11): Young Alumni Award
Through a broad scope of undergraduate courses offered by UWaterloo Biology and Chemistry departments and by working as a teaching assistant, April Pawluk (BSc ’11) developed a passion for a wide range of science topics and for scientific communication. While pursuing a PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Toronto she was part of the team that discovered how bacteriophage fight back against bacterial CRISPR-Cas defence systems. The discovery of these viral proteins has contributed to advances in CRISPR genome editing technologies. As a post-doctoral research fellow, April expanded her research on CRISPR-Cas systems at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2017 she combined her love of communication and science, joining the prestigious journal Cell as a scientific editor. As an editor, she travels frequently to conferences and universities to learn about the latest research developments, and selects the most important and interesting articles for peer review and publication.
George Pinho (PhD ’99): Distinguished Alumni Award
George Pinho (PhD ’99) is a business leader with over 20 years of experience in technology innovation, product development, and product commercialization in both the image display and medical device markets.
His experience spans several industries. He has held various roles including Research Associate for laser welding of plastics (PowerLasers, Ltd), Senior Optical Designer and Project Leader for digital cinema and commercial projectors (Christie Digital Systems, Inc.), and Director of Product Development for projection systems (Christie Digital Systems, Inc.). He later became President of Christie Medical, a venture division of Christie Digital Systems, Inc., and currently leads a team focused on developing and commercializing near-infrared imaging technologies for medical applications.
Combining his physics education from UWaterloo and MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University, George recognized and actualized needs for innovation. He has been awarded nine patents for projector designs and medical device innovations. His product designs have received multiple industry innovation awards. George also serves on several boards including the Board of Directors at ReMap, a business-led National Centre of Excellence helping Canadian companies with innovative technology achieve product commercialization.
Robert Myers (BSc ’82): Distinguished Alumni Award
Robert Myers (BSc ’82) is a global leader in theoretical physics, pioneering the study of black holes within the broad context motivated by string theory. Among his landmark contributions are the discovery of the first higher-dimensional rotating black hole solution (now known as the Myers-Perry metric); key progress on understanding the statistical interpretation of black hole entropy; a string theory analog of the dielectric effect — the “Myers effect”; and most recently developing new relationships between quantum entanglement and the emergence of space-time geometry. Additionally, Robert has been instrumental as an international leader in the theoretical physics community, most visibly through his role as founder at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.
After receiving his PhD at Princeton in 1986, followed by a postdoctoral researcher appointment at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, he accepted a faculty position at McGill University before returning to Waterloo in 2001 to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics as senior researcher, as well as professor at UWaterloo’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.
In addition to numerous recognitions for his contributions to the physics community, Robert appeared on the Thomson Reuters list of “World's Most Influential Scientific Minds” (2014 and 2015) and Clarivate Analytics’ “Highly Cited Researcher” (2016 and 2017).
Conrad Grebel University College
Dean Peachey (PhD ’86): Distinguished Alumni Service Award
Holding graduate degrees in Psychology, Dean Peachey (MA ’82, PhD ’86) serves as Executive Director of Global College in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and coordinates the Human Rights program. Focusing on transitional justice and reconciliation, his recent research examines community-based reconciliation efforts in northern Uganda that arise from two decades of civil war. Peachey is currently part of a research team examining reconciliation between Indigenous and other Canadians. He has a deep interest in the intersection of religion and conflict, and is active in inter-faith dialogue activities. Prior to joining Global College, Peachey served as president of Menno Simons College and taught conflict resolution studies. He served as president of the Fund for Dispute Resolution and was a member of the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services. He has worked as a mediator and conflict resolution consultant in a variety of settings, including community issues, land use and planning disputes, alternatives to litigation, and religious contexts.
With his extensive contribution promoting peace in the church, community, nation, and world, Peachey’s drive to educate and dialogue is commendable and embodies the ideals and mission of Conrad Grebel University College. Peachey has been named Grebel’s 2018 Distinguished Alumni Service Award winner.
St. Jerome's University
Michael Farwell (BA ’97): Fr. Norm Choate, C.R., Distinguished Graduate Award
This year’s award recipient is no stranger to the Kitchener-Waterloo community. Mike Farwell (BA ’97) graduated from St. Jerome’s University in 1997 with a BA in English Language and Literature before attending Conestoga College’s School of Media and Design, studying Radio and Television Broadcasting. Listeners can hear him every weekday on 570 News, where he hosts his own program, the Mike Farwell Show, or may recognize his passion for hockey as the voice of the Kitchener Rangers.
Mr. Farwell is known for his generosity. Each May, he spearheads a campaign called Farwell for Hire where he completes odd jobs in exchange for donations to the Kitchener-Waterloo Chapter of Cystic Fibrosis Canada. Mr. Farwell also currently sits on the board of the Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region, and his past service includes being co-chair of the City of Kitchener’s Neighborhood Strategy Team, a trustee with the Kitchener Public Library Board, as well as involvement with the public relations committee of KW Oktoberfest, and the City of Kitchener’s Safe and Healthy Communities Committee.
Mr. Farwell is constantly striving to make his community brighter and stronger. “I am so grateful to this community,” he says. “It’s taken care of me all my life and I can’t help but want to give back to it.”
Nicole Bakes (BA ’08): Sr. Leon White, SSND, Distinguished Graduate Award
Nicole Bakes (BA ’08) graduated from St. Jerome’s University in 2008, with a BA in Legal Studies and a Minor in Psychology. During her time at University, she was known for her involvement, as both an Orientation Leader and Residence Don, as well as a term as the Residence Council President.
Bakes’ interest in social justice is long-standing. After she completed her undergraduate degree, she pursued graduate studies at Simon Fraser University, working towards a Masters in International Development. She participated in Truth and Reconciliation workshops and programming involving Indigenous Arts, Culture, and programming that supported Indigenous women.
Bakes attended law school at the University of Ottawa, where she specialized in Aboriginal Law and Indigenous Legal Orders, while pursuing her Juris Doctor in English Common Law. She sought opportunities to continue learning and to support Indigenous rights campaigns by volunteering with Amnesty International as a Legal Intern, as well as volunteering with the Indigenous Law Students Association, learning to be a better ally. In 2017, Bakes was hired by Senator Kim Pate to work as a Legislative Development Intern on the Senate’s Standing Committee for Aboriginal Peoples, where she researched and drafted work for more justice laws affecting Indigenous peoples, especially marginalized Indigenous women and Indigenous individuals who are incarcerated.
Renison University College
Janet Menard (BA ’75): Distinguished Alumnus Award
Janet Menard (BA ’75) graduated from Renison University College and the University of Waterloo in 1975 with a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Social Services, now known as Social Development Studies. A lifelong learner, Janet has earned additional academic credentials from York University, Queen’s University, Ryerson and Centennial College.
With over three decades of service and advocacy work, Janet Menard was appointed Deputy Minister of Children, Community and Social Services and Deputy Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues in June 2018.
She also served as Deputy Minister of Community and Social Services and Deputy Minister Responsible for Poverty Reduction, bringing her vast experience in the field of human services from Peel and Halton Regions and the City of Toronto.
Janet was named the Commissioner of Human Services at Peel in 2009 following leadership roles in Social Services and Housing. There, she led the integration of human services and child care transformation to align with full-day kindergarten.
Janet has a strong commitment to quality assurance and finding collaborative approaches to dealing with social issues. Over the years, Janet has participated on numerous community boards, including mental health, supportive housing, legal clinics and community planning, as well as the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association and the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association. She also co-chaired both newcomer and poverty reduction coalitions in Peel.
In 2018, Janet was honoured with the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association’s Champion of Human Services Award.
St. Paul’s University College
James Fraser (BSc ’94): Distinguished Alumni Award
In recognition of an exemplary career, dedication to advancement of education and service to St. Paul’s community
James Fraser (BSc ’94) is an Associate Professor of physics at Queen’s University where he is highly regarded for his research and teaching. He researches ultra-fast light-matter interactions and non-linear optics and is working to make precision laser cutting more effective.
James is also a very highly regarded teacher, known for an unconventional approach in the classroom that emphasizes learning by doing and students teaching other students. James has received multiple accolades and awards for his teaching including the 2017 3M National Teaching Fellowship.
He was previously awarded the 2016 Medal for Excellence in Teaching Undergraduate Physics from the Canadian Association of Physicists, and the Queen’s Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2012. He is also a recipient of the Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award.
James and his wife Lisa Sansom have been loyal donors to St. Paul’s and the University of Waterloo for more than 20 years.
Anne Vivian-Scott (BASc ’89): Distinguished Alumni Award
In recognition of an exemplary career, dedication to advancement of education and service to St. Paul’s community
Anne Vivian-Scott (BASc ’89) is President and CEO of BKIN Technologies, a company that is transforming the assessment of brain injuries using a robotic instrument called KINARM, invented by her husband, Stephen Scott (BASc ’88). Over 90 KINARMs are in use around the world to understand brain function and dysfunction.
Anne has devoted most of her career to the challenge of transforming university-based research into meaningful products. Prior to BKIN, she spent 15 years with PARTEQ Innovations the former technology transfer agency of Queen’s University.
She is a member of the Ontario Brain Institute’s Industry Advisory Council and serves on the board of Launch Lab a Regional Innovation Centre serving Kingston and Southeastern Ontario.
Anne and Steve have been loyal donors to the University of Waterloo for more than 20 years.
Graeme Reed (BES ’14): Young Alumni Award
In recognition of commitment to community and advancing the interests of First Nations
Graeme Reed (BES ’14) is of mixed Anishinaabe and European descent. He is a Senior Advisor with the Assembly of First Nations, where he advocates for the inclusion of First Nations in the federal, provincial, and territorial climate change and energy policy dialogue. He has presented to the Canadian Council of Ministers of Environment (CCME), participated in the First Minister’s Meeting negotiating the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, and represented the AFN several times at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
In his spare time, Graeme thinks about innovative ways and strategies to advocate for people like him who live with Ankylosing Spondylitis and Crohns’ Disease. Recently, Graeme collaborated with other Ottawa AS-patients to start an Ottawa Branch of the Canadian Spondylitis Association.
Graeme recently started a PhD at the University of Guelph.