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
Jacqueline Armstrong Gates (BA ’91): Alumni Achievement Award
Jacqueline Armstrong Gates received her BA in Political Science in 1991. She earned her LLB from Queen’s University in 1994 and was called to the bar in 1996. Today she is a partner in Gowling WLG's Waterloo Region office. She has over twenty years of litigation experience including a term as head of the advocacy department.
Jacqueline has argued cases in the Ontario Court of Appeal, Divisional Court, and has represented parties at trials in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. She was named by law publication Lexpert as one of Canada’s Leading Lawyers Under 40 and was also on Waterloo Region Record’s 40 under 40 list.
Jacqueline has actively contributed to numerous community organizations, including Habitat for Humanity Build, the Food Bank, the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, and numerous professional associations. She is an outstanding alumni mentor to UWaterloo students, regularly attending career events and offering one-on-one advice.
Jacqueline is an exemplary UWaterloo alumnus and ambassador.
Franca Gucciardi (BA ’94): Alumni Achievement Award
Franca Gucciardi completed her BA in Political Science as a Loran Scholar in 1994. She then earned an MA from Carleton and has since been dedicated to discovering and investing in young Canadians who show strong leadership potential and character.
Franca is regarded as a global expert on merit scholarships, having designed and implemented the Millennium Excellence Awards. In 2004 she became the CEO of the Loran Scholars Foundation, which had given her the opportunity to attend university. Loran is now the premier merit scholarship program in Canada, so far having benefited 2,500 students entering undergraduate studies. Now Franca is the CEO of the McCall MacBain Foundation, committed to improving global welfare in education, health, and the environment. She is also co-author of You’re It! Shared Wisdom for Successfully Leading Organizations alongside Alan Broadbent.
In recognition of her commitment to her communities, Franca was named a Fellow of the International Women’s Forum, the world’s preeminent association of top women leaders. A champion of education, Franca currently advises for Western, Guelph, and McGill.
Hyder Hassan (BA ’12): Young Alumni Award
Hyder Hassan received a BA in Liberal Studies in 2012, which he earned while working part-time in banking. By the time he graduated, he was a Senior Business Analyst, and was soon recruited to start a new department for the National Bank of Canada. Today he is Head of Wealth at First Calgary Financial, managing teams at 15 branches. Along with his burgeoning career, Hyder continued to advance his education, earning six major finance sector designations.
Hyder shows an immense passion for mentoring young leaders and is active in many organizations in his local community, including the Rotary Club, the Chiu School of Business at Bow Valley College, and Alberta Health Services citizenship advisory committee. He is also a career mentor and presenter for Calgary Immigrant Services.
Hyder is also co-founder of the social enterprise www.fullsoul.ca.
FullSoul.ca is non-profit created via the St Paul's GreenHouse incubator program that installs maternal medical kits in developing nations in Africa. FullSoul medical kits have saved thousands of mothers and children in Uganda by increasing the safety of the mother's delivery experience.
School of Accounting and Finance
Cindy Ditner (MAcc’ 86): Alumni Achievement Award
Cindy Ditner (MAcc ’86) CPA is Global Head of Assurance, BDO International. She is responsible for developing auditing and assurance standards, training and software tools for the BDO network worldwide. Previously she was the chair of BDO International’s Audit Steering Committee, the group that is responsible for setting policies and standards to ensure quality in our global audit practice.
Prior to joining the international firm, Cindy was the National Assurance Standards Partner for BDO Canada for many years, holding several other positions in the Canadian firm before that.
Cindy served as a member of CPA Canada’s Audit and Assurance Standards Board for seven years during the period when Canada decided to adopt International Standards on Auditing. She also served on CPA Canada’s Board of Evaluators for the last three Uniform Final Examinations.
Cindy has remained involved in UWaterloo through the Accounting Alumni Association.
Carol Leaman (MAcc ’89): Alumni Achievement Award
Carol Leaman (MAcc ’89) FCA is the President and CEO of Axonify Inc., a disruptor in the corporate learning space and innovator behind the world’s first Employee Knowledge Platform. Prior to Axonify, Carol was the CEO of PostRank Inc., a social engagement analytics company that she sold to Google in June 2011. Previously, Carol held C-level positions at RSS Solutions and Fakespace Systems, which she also sold to strategic acquirers. A regular contributor to Fortune magazine and a well-respected thought leader, Carol has been published in learning, business, and technology journals. She brings her experience and insight to not-for-profit and for-profit boards and has won awards, including the Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Intrepid Award (2011), the Sarah Kirke Award (2010) for Canada’s leading female entrepreneur, and the Canadian Business Profit 500 Female Entrepreneur of the Year (2017).
Jane Chung (MAcc ’07): Young Alumni Award
Jane Chung (MAcc ’07) is currently the CEO of Perked!, a software company re-imagining the way companies grow and scale their high-performance culture. Perked! was recently recognized as an ICT Emerging Rocket company in BC in 2017.
Previously, Jane worked as a senior manager at the Canadian Public Accountability Board, helping to build their Western Canada team as their youngest team member. Prior to that, Jane was a manager at KPMG in their Financial Services practice in Toronto. Working in the technology industry, Jane is passionate about elevating the diversity and inclusion of women in tech. She mentors, facilitates workshops, and supports fellow women in tech through Founders Network, a global network of peer entrepreneurs.
Vikram Somasundaram (MAcc ’11): Young Alumni Award
Vikram Somasundaram (MAcc ’11) is Chief of Staff, Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario. Vikram directs thought leadership and works closely with CPA Ontario’s Executive Team on strategic planning and special projects. Previously, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of Edusight, an education technology startup serving over 300,000 students worldwide and acquired by Nelson earlier this year. He also recently launched a micro-VC fund focused on making seed stage investments in emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence and virtual reality.
Vikram is passionate about good design, emerging technology and its impact on society, and the Toronto Raptors.
Megan Tong (MAcc ’09): Young Alumni Award
Megan Tong (MAcc ’09) is Co-Founder, Kanga, and Senior Manager of Business Development, Top Hat.
She co-founded Kanga, Toronto's first Australian-style meat pie shop. The idea for Kanga was conceived during a KPMG work secondment to Australia, and what started as an idea for a pop-up quickly grew into a successful chain of restaurants.
Prior to founding Kanga, she worked at the MasterCard Foundation, managing partnerships with NGOs at the front lines of education and financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Megan has been an avid champion of entrepreneurship through her involvement with JuniorAchievement and Futurpreneur.
School of Pharmacy
Jeff Wong (PharmD ’16): Pharmacy Alumni Achievement Award
Jeff Wong (PharmD ’16) graduated in 2011 from the School of Pharmacy as part of the vanguard class. After graduation, Jeff completed his primary care residency at the University Health Network in Toronto. His experiences during co-op and residency helped him develop a passion for frontline patient care.
Jeff has been working as a primary care pharmacist with the Hamilton Family Health Team for the last five years, focusing on chronic disease management, travel medicine, and deprescribing. In addition to working with patients he also mentors residents, aids in quality improvement initiatives, and conducts practice-based research. His published research includes studying inappropriate medication use in elderly patients.
Working with a variety of patients from diverse backgrounds, Jeff began to understand how a person’s different identities hugely impact how they approach health care. He recognized the need to introduce diversity training to the pharmacy curriculum and has made an important contribution to the education of future generations of pharmacists by developing an elective course aimed at building empathy and appreciation for specific and diverse patient populations. Jeff strongly believes that exposure to narratives, both the personal narratives of individual patients and the historical narratives of unique patient groups, can help train one's “empathy muscle.” With this in mind, he uses Narrative Medicine to frame both his teaching style and clinical practice.
Jeff continues to stay involved with the School as a frequent guest lecturer and member of the Alumni Advisory Group. He also recently completed his PharmD at the University of Waterloo.
Faculty of Applied Health Sciences
Dr. Patrick Brill-Edwards (BSc ’79): Alumni Achievement Award
A graduate of the Kinesiology program and a trained medical doctor, Patrick Brill-Edwards (BSc ’79) joined Merck, the company behind Gardasil — the vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) — in 2001, when the vaccine had not yet been granted licensure.
Dr. Brill-Edwards joined the team that was instrumental in bringing Gardasil to market as an almost 100-percent effective agent in preventing disease caused by HPV, including the second-most common cancer among women worldwide, cervical cancer, over the ensuing five years. The vaccine is reducing the burden of illness and, in turn, saving lives.
Besides being a recognized health sciences leader, Dr. Brill-Edwards is also well published with a particular interest in thrombosis and thrombotic complications of pregnancy. Most of all, he is a true pioneer. Given that women’s health, and women’s sexual health in particular, has not received requisite attention in parts of the world for far too long, Dr. Brill-Edwards and his colleagues challenged previously held beliefs, broke boundaries and reduced stigmas to improve health. In doing so, he is leading a new conversation, including in sexual health and disease prevention, which will inspire the next generation of health leaders to make other transformative impacts toward a healthier world for all.
Shelley Martin (BA ’15): Young Alumni Award
Since graduating from the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences’ Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies in 2015, Shelley Martin (BA ’15) has launched her career as a pioneer in children’s inclusive arts programming. Her passion for the arts, combined with her degree in therapeutic recreation and her involvement with KidsAbility Centre for Child Development here in Waterloo, served as the inspiration for fulfilling her dream of creating a place where every child can experience the joy of art and succeed at it, whatever their ability. Opening its doors in September 2015, Arts Abound has already engaged over 500 children in the Waterloo region in the arts. As founder and program manager, Shelley fulfills the mission statement by providing meaningful art experiences for kids of all ages and all abilities by helping “children find and develop their inner artist.”
By creating a space that welcomes participants of all abilities, Shelley is leading a new conversation and, in doing so, challenging the stigma that inclusive settings are too difficult to manage or perceived as undesirable. In modeling that everyone has an equal place at Arts Abound, Shelley is helping children and youth to understand the value in honoring difference and making room for everyone within a community.
Faculty of Engineering
Rasmus Lerdorf (BASc ’93): Alumni Achievement Medal, Professional Achievement
Rasmus Lerdorf’s (BASc ’93) resume includes two professional objectives: number one to work on things that matter and number two to touch people’s lives for the better. Lerdorf, a 1993 Waterloo systems design engineering graduate, has not only met, but exceeded both of those goals.
Twenty-two years ago, he single-handedly created the PHP scripting language, which was the first simple and elegant approach to allowing dynamic content on web pages. Today, the software language powers the vast majority of the world’s websites such as Facebook, Wikipedia, Flickr, Tumblr, WordPress, and many more.
No other software in the world has had a greater influence on the Internet. The impact of his PHP language has been, and continues to be, incredible.
Lerdorf’s many honours include being recognized in 2003 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35 in the prestigious MIT Technology Review.
Lerdorf remains a hands-on pragmatic engineer who solves important problems and an active contributor to open source projects.
Currently employed by Etsy as a distinguished engineer, Lerdorf has also worked for several other companies throughout his impressive career including WePay and Yahoo. While at Yahoo, Lerdorf created a security tool known as “scanmus,” which is one of the key pieces of the company’s security toolkit.
Andrew Pollard (BASc ’75): Alumni Achievement Medal, Academic Excellence
Andrew Pollard (BASc ’75) is an excellent example of a Waterloo Engineering alumnus who has excelled in his area of research and has made significant contributions to the academic community and beyond. After graduating from our mechanical engineering program in 1975, Pollard completed a doctorate at Imperial College, University of London, in 1978.
In 1981, Pollard joined Queen’s University and for more than a decade held the University’s Research Chair in Fluid Mechanics and Multi-Scale Phenomena.
His world-renowned research focuses on both computational and experimental fluid mechanics. The breadth of his work has included the turbulence of fluids, biological fluid flows, aerodynamics, computational and experimental methods in fluid mechanics, energy, and biomass systems.
During his 40-year illustrious academic career, he published or edited over 250 peer-reviewed articles and books.
Besides teaching a number of undergraduate and graduate courses, Pollard supervised more than 300 undergraduate students in their final year projects. He taught over 50 masters and doctoral students, and generated over $55 million in research funding.
Over the years, he established a number of the centres, labs, and societies. Here are just a few impressive examples: Pollard was a founding member and the inaugural president of the Computational Fluid Dynamics Society of Canada. He also was the inaugural director of the Queen’s collaborative Master of Science Specialization in Computational Science and Engineering. As well, he was the inaugural director of the Sustainable Bio-economy Centre at Queen’s University.
A professor emeritus at Queen’s since this past January, Pollard remains active in his research.
Richard Frayne (BASc ’89): Alumni Achievement Medal, Academic Excellence
By every standard, Richard Frayne’s (BASc ’89) academic career has been truly outstanding. Frayne graduated from the electrical engineering program in 1989 and went on to complete a doctorate in medical biophysics at Western University.
Today, he is considered to be one of the most successful Canadian academic researchers in the field of magnetic resonance imaging for the study, detection, and treatment of vascular disease.
Since 1999, Frayne has been a faculty member in the department of radiology at the University of Calgary. In 2010, he was named the University’s Hopewell Professor of Brain Imaging. Richard is also the deputy director at Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary.
Over the years, Frayne has taught more than 100 undergraduate students and medical residents, 37 graduate students, and 18 postdoctoral fellows.
Frayne has over 155 published peer-reviewed journal articles and has made more than 450 scholarly presentations. He has 20 international patents and has technology successfully commercialized with an estimated value of over $50 million Canadian.
Frayne is an active leader in many associations related to his work, including the Canadian Atherosclerosis Imaging Network and the Medical Imaging Trials Network of Canada. Both are major national research networks that have been making transformative advances to the landscape of medical imaging in Canada.
Nulogy: Team Alumni Achievement Medal
Sean S. Kirby (BASc ’02)
Jason D. Tham (BASc ’02)
K. Donald Tham (MASc ’78)
Kevin N. Wong (BASc ’02)
Jason A. Yuen (BASc ’02)
Nulogy began with a team of Waterloo Engineering graduates who wanted to have a special kind of company that could solve hard, unsolved problems. And they’ve done just that.
Nulogy was founded by Sean Kirby (BASc ’02), Jason Tham (BASc ’02), Kevin Wong (BASc ’02) and Jason Yuen (BASc ’02), who graduated from systems design engineering, and Donald Tham (MASc ’78), who graduated with a master’s in management science. For more than a decade, the company has been a market leader of cloud software to contract packaging and manufacturing suppliers to meet the changing expectations of both retailers and consumers.
Over the years, Nulogy has received numerous honours including recognition as one of Canada’s Best Managed companies in 2014. The next year, Nulogy received the Deloitte Fast 50 award as well as the Deloitte Fast 500 award for being one of the fastest growing technology companies in Canada and in North America.
This past spring, Nulogy won top honours in the 2017 International Warehouse Logistics Association Innovation Contest. The company was selected for having the most innovative product among a field of 60 competitors.
Faculty of Environment
Scott Thompson (BES ’82): Alumni Achievement Award
When Scott Thompson (BES ’82) leaves his home in the morning, nearly everyone he meets has been touched by the work he does every day. Currently Deputy Minister of Finance for the Province of Ontario, the Urban and Regional Planning grad leads an organization of 2,000-plus staff working to craft the Province's fiscal plan, tax system, and pension policies, while overseeing key government business enterprises. Under his leadership, the Ministry of Finance has developed and successfully delivered three provincial budgets and for 2017-18, presented a balanced fiscal plan with revenues and expenses of over $140 billion. As part of his current role, he also chairs the board of both the Ontario Financing Authority and the Ontario Electricity Financial Corporation.
As Executive Lead for the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services (the Drummond Commission), Scott reviewed the breadth of provincial public services and made recommendations on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of their delivery. Previously, as the Director of Municipal Affairs, Scott led significant municipal reform initiatives including restructuring of regional government and the first comprehensive overhaul of the Municipal Act in over 100 years.
With more than 30 years of public sector policy experience, Scott endeavors to help the next generation of public service leaders by mentoring a number of early- and mid-career public servants and as an Executive Sponsor of the Tomorrow's Ontario Public Service initiative. As Deputy Minister of Policy at Cabinet Office, he led Policy Innovation and Leadership, a cross-government initiative aimed at developing and supporting policy professionals and processes.
Bryan Tuckey (BES ’78): Alumni Achievement Award
After 33 successful years as a leader in public service, Urban and Regional Planning alumnus Bryan Tuckey (BES ’78) decided to apply his expertise to a business environment. That was five years ago, and since then the President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) has had a major impact on the largest local home building association in Canada, doubling both revenue and staff.
BILD’s success is largely attributed to Bryan’s roll-up-the-sleeves-and-get-things-done attitude. He is known amongst his peers for his unique ability to look after the public interest and serve the community while carrying out his responsibilities with a sense of purpose, dignity, and respect for others.
Bryan’s impressive resume includes 12 years at the City of North York in progressively senior positions, culminating as Acting Commissioner of Planning at the time of Toronto’s amalgamation. He then worked for the Province of Ontario, first as Director of Provincial Planning and Environmental Services, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and later as the Acting Assistant Deputy Minister of the same.
Bryan’s team led the Three Region collaboration to plan for the Oak Ridges Moraine, an important environmental feature, and his efforts eventually saw the passing of the Oak Ridges Moraine Act and Plan, which remains one of the most important pieces of environmental legislation in the Province of Ontario.
Tania Cheng (BES ’10): Young Alumni Achievement Award
Tania Cheng (BES ’10) is an Environment and Resource Studies alumnus who has channeled her passion for making the world a better place into a rewarding career in the non-profit world, changing lives for the better across the country and around the world.
As the associate director of Ontario EcoSchools, an organization working with the public school system to foster environmental awareness in the classroom and engage the next generation of sustainability leaders, Tania is spearheading efforts to bring the organization’s mission to a national platform by creating a new nonprofit called EcoSchools Canada.
In 2016, Tania completed a Master in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership from Carleton University and a 12-month fellowship through the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Inclusive Giving program, all while working full-time.
Her volunteer experience is no less impressive and includes her work with The Otesha Project — a national youth-led charitable organization that used experiential learning, theatre, and bicycle tours to encourage community action for a more sustainable world — and Me to We, with whom she travelled the world to deliver more than 140 keynote speeches to 40,000 youth across Canada and the U.S. Today, Tania can be found working with the LGBTQ+ film community as a member of the board of directors of the Inside Out film festival in Toronto.
Faculty of Mathematics
Dora Vell (MMath ’87): Alumni Achievement Medal
Dora Vell (MMath ’87) is the CEO of Vell Executive Search, a boutique executive search firm in Boston focused on recruiting technology executives and board members across North America. She has received an MBA from the University of Toronto, a Master in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo, and a Bachelor in Computer Science from Carleton.
She has also completed the MIT Entrepreneurial Master’s program.
Patrick Hayes (BMath ’12): Young Alumni Achievement Medal
Patrick Hayes (BMath ’12) is the co-founder and VP of engineering at SigOpt in San Francisco, which he founded in 2014.
Before that Patrick was a software engineer at Foursquare in NYC. Patrick is a 2012 Math grad, double majoring in Computer Science and Pure Mathematics. Patrick grew up in Guelph.
Brian Arbogast (BMath ’86): Alumni Achievement Medal
Brian Arbogast (BMath ’86) leads the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s effort to bring groundbreaking innovations in sanitation technology and new ways to deliver sanitation products and services to people in the developing world.
He received his Bachelor of Mathematics in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo, and a Certificate in Sustainable Business from the Bainbridge Graduate Institute.
Niky Kamran (PhD ’84): Alumni Achievement Medal
Niky Kamran (PhD ’84) is a James McGill Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at McGill University.
His research interests are in differential geometry, geometric analysis and mathematical physics. He is a recipient of the Aisensadt Prize, the CRM-Fields-PIMS Prize, and a Killam Fellowship. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society.
Vicki Iverson (BMath ’06): J.W. Graham Medal in Computing & Innovation
Vicki Iverson’s (BMath ’06) entrepreneurial journey began back in 2006 at the University of Waterloo, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Mathematics in Computer Science. She then went on to attend the University of Toronto, where she earned a Master of Science specializing in Artificial Intelligence.
Vicki is the CTO and co-founder of Iversoft, an innovative Ottawa-based technology firm. Since its inception in 2009, Iversoft has become a recognized name in all things digital media and has effectively positioned itself as one of North America’s premiere mobile development studios.
Faculty of Science
Zahra Fakhraai (PhD ’07): Young Alumni Award
Zahra Fakhraai (PhD ‘07) received her Bachelor and Master degrees from Sharif University of Technology in Iran before completing her PhD at the University of Waterloo. At the University of Pennsylvania she works with a diverse group of graduate and undergraduate students with chemistry, physics, and materials science backgrounds. Together they develop new experimental methods that enable studies of materials properties at nanometer scale. These findings are used to design new materials, resulting in drastically improved properties.
Zahra is co-director of REACT (Research and Education in Active Coating Technologies for the Human Habitat) project at University of Pennsylvania, aimed at training graduate and undergraduate fellows whose research is focused on developing new coatings for disaster relief tents. Undergraduate teaching and mentorship is an important part of Zahra’s mission at UPenn. She applies concepts of inclusive teaching in her classrooms by adopting Structured, Active, In-Class Learning (SAIL) format, which gives students the responsibility to independently learn and collaborate in a structured setting. These efforts are aimed at training the next generation of STEM leaders.
In addition to numerous publications and a demanding schedule as an invited speaker, Zahra is involved in many volunteer committees and outreach activities. One popular talk, “What Do Bullet-Proof Windows, Silly Putty and Tires have in Common?” reached a wide community base.
Jesse Kancir (BSc ’08): Young Alumni Award
While some doctors use pharmaceuticals or surgical procedures to improve health outcomes, Dr. Jesse Kancir (BSc ’08) is a resident physician in public health at the University of British Columbia whose early career has focused on policy to improve the health of Canadians.
His leadership in Canadian organized medicine has been consistent, including serving as President of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students and on the boards of several national medical organizations. Rather than immediately pursuing his specialty medical training following medical school, Dr. Kancir completed graduate studies in Public Policy at the University of Cambridge as a Canadian Chevening Scholar. His combined interest in medicine and policy led him to join the Office of the federal Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Philpott, where he worked on key medical files, including the legislation for medical assistance in dying.
He is also passionately committed to the idea that arts and humanities create better doctors and has been instrumental in several projects aiming to help medical students become more reflective, conscientious, and clinically competent through literature, film, and visual arts.
Jason Field (BSc ’98): Distinguished Alumni Award
Jason Field (BSc ’98) obtained his PhD in Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts and his undergraduate degree from the University of Waterloo. Following graduate school, Jason returned to Ontario and worked in the pharmaceutical industry as a research scientist developing scalable manufacturing processes of active pharmaceutical ingredients.
In 2007, he joined the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade (MEDT) where he led a team of senior advisors dedicated to growing Ontario's life sciences and information and communication technologies (ICT) sectors. During his time at MEDT, Jason was integral to the development of a number of strategic policy initiatives and spearheaded negotiations with several major ICT and life sciences companies that resulted in significant new investments in the province. Jason joined Life Sciences Ontario (LSO) as Executive Director in October 2011 and was appointed as President and CEO in April 2014.
LSO is a member-driven organization that represents and promotes the province’s vibrant and diverse life sciences sector. LSO collaborates with governments, academia, industry, and other life science organizations in Ontario and across Canada to promote and encourage commercial success throughout this diverse sector.
Ronald Li (BSc ’94): Distinguished Alumni Award
Professor Ronald Li (BSc ’94) is the SY and HY Cheng endowed professor and director of the Ming-Wai Lau Center for Reparative Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Hong Kong. Additionally, he is affiliated with the Dr. Li Dak-Sum Center for Regenerative Medicine at Hong Kong University (HKU). Professor Li launched his career as an Assistant Professor at John Hopkins University. Later, as Associate Professor at the University of California Davis, he founded the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Consortium. He subsequently joined the Icahn School of Medicine, Mt Sinai, as co-director of Cardiovascular Cell & Tissue Engineering. In 2010 Professor Li became the founding director of the Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine Consortium at HKU.
Professor Li is the co-founder and CEO of Novoheart, a global bio-pharmaceutical company which engineers bioartifical human heart prototypes using state-of-the-art stem cell and bioengineering approaches revolutionizing drug discovery and development, as well as cell-based regenerative heart therapies.
Professor Li has published over 150 research articles and received numerous accolades, including the Career Development Award from the Cardiac Arrhythmias Research & Education Foundation (2001) and the Young Investigator Award from the Heart Rhythm Society in 2002. Johns Hopkins University recognized him twice with Top Young Faculty Award (2002, 2004). He received the American Heart Association’s Best Study of 2005 and Ground-breaking Study of 2006.
Conrad Grebel University College
Amanda Kind (BA ’06): Distinguished Alumni Service Award
Waterloo-based singer, songwriter, actor, and vocal coach Amanda Kind (BA ’06) is an inspirational leader for young performers in Kitchener-Waterloo.
Amanda is involved with many different groups in the community, including KW Musical Productions, Drayton Entertainment, and KW Glee.
Not only has she filled the need for a pop ensemble geared towards youth, but she has used this medium to infuse young people with a desire for excellence. “She is building musical leaders of tomorrow,” noted Laura Gray, Chair of Music at Conrad Grebel. “The love she has for her young performers is easy to see and those young people and their families return that affection in equal measure.”
“When I was a teenager, I was desperate for opportunities to sing and learn about the performing arts,” explained Amanda. “I feel the need to create the opportunities, and provide the support and education that I wish I could have had at that critical time in my life.”
St. Jerome's University
Michele Mosca (BMath ’95): Fr. Norm Choate, C.R., Distinguished Graduate Award
A national bronze medal in the Descartes Mathematics Contest provided early evidence of Michele Mosca’s (BMath ’95) potential. During graduate work at Oxford, he encountered quantum computing. The appeal of defining the foundations of cybersecurity broke through his initial skepticism, and his timing was good — he was able to work with pioneers in this exciting new field.
St. Jerome’s and main campus creators of a fledgling cryptography centre were inspired to invite him to form a quantum computing group. With their encouragement to follow his larger vision, he went on to help found Perimeter Institute and the Institute for Quantum Computing and to become a driving force in developing the “Quantum Valley” of the world.
Viewing quantum computing as holistic and interdisciplinary, he seeks breakthrough avenues for protecting and rebuilding cyber infrastructure to ensure the world’s safe enjoyment of its benefits. His global perspective, his collaborative commitment to addressing human and political considerations, and the value he places on being a role model to nurture the next generation all echo St. Jerome’s values. “I like to plant trees that will bear fruit for a long time to come.”
Jeffrey Akomah (BA ’05): Sr. Leon White, SSND, Distinguished Graduate Award
Jeffery Akomah (BA ’05) graduated from St. Jerome’s University in 2005 after an impressive and co-curricular filled undergraduate experience, which included winning the Zach Ralston Award, membership on the chaplaincy team, time as an off-campus don, work as an assistant student librarian, and acting as a SJU Student Ambassador.
Jeffery took the social justice lessons he learned at the University to heart. He focused on developmental, environmental, and cultural sustainability issues through involvement with domestic groups such as Project: Humanity and the Office of Catholic Youth in the Greater Toronto Area, and Pro Bono Students Canada, Law-Mall Legal Clinic, Ottawa-ACORN, and the Black Law Student’s Association (BLSA) in Ottawa, Ontario.
Internationally, Jeffrey worked with Hatun’Sonqo (Heart House) Orphanage, Youth Detention Centre Marcavalle, and CUSO International/La Asociación Kallpa in Peru; and the Centre for Mediation, Peace, and Resolution of Conflict in Ecuador.
Through these initiatives Jeffrey discovered his passion for law. He has since dedicated his life to the practice, completing a Master of Arts in International Studies from Simon Fraser University, a Juris Doctor degree at the University of Ottawa, and Ryerson University’s Law Practice program, with certification in negotiation by the Stitt Feld Handy Group, Windsor University.
Renison University College
Rick Green (BSc ’75): Distinguished Alumnus Award
A former resident at Renison University College, Rick Green (BSc ’75) has worked in comedy, television, and film throughout most of his career. He has been a member of The Frantics comedy troupe, created the television show History Bites, and was the co-creator of Canada's longest running comedy series, The Red Green Show.
Diagnosed with ADHD in his late 40s, Green has become a full-time advocate and educator about ADHD. In addition to giving presentations and lectures, Green has created award-winning documentaries and a website, TotallyADD.com, to share information, tools, and strategies — for those with the condition, for the family members providing support, and to educate the general public. Given that an estimated 80% of adults with ADHD are undiagnosed, Green’s work has been vital. For his work in education and advocacy around ADHD, Rick has also been appointed a Member of both the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario.
St. Paul’s University College
Jo-Anne Willment (BA '78): Distinguished Alumni Award
In recognition of an exemplary career, dedication to others and service to St. Paul’s community.
Jo-Anne’s (BA ’78) contributions to the St. Paul’s community began in 1973. As a first-year resident, she sang and played multiple instruments in several of the very first editions of BlackForest Coffeehouse. She has served on the Board of Governors, was a St. Paul’s Honorary Fellow and an alumni association executive, and she continues to serve as an active volunteer and donor today.
Her life was altered at age 34 when she suffered a stroke. Jo-Anne used the experience as motivation to pursue an Ed.D. Doctorate in Education and throughout her academic career was highly regarded for her work to remove barriers for others. An expert in distance education and workplace learning, Jo-Anne’s academic career included academic positions with Waterloo and Dalhousie, and tenure at the Werklund School at the University of Calgary.
Recently retired, Jo-Anne is an active member of the Knox United Church choir and the Royal Canadian College of Organists for which she is co-chairing the national Calgary Organ Festival in July 2018.
Ian Goulden (PhD ’79): Distinguished Alumni Award
In recognition of an exemplary career, dedication to advancement of education and service to St. Paul’s community.
Ian (PhD ’79) obtained his BMath degree from Waterloo in 1976, graduating with the inaugural Alumni Gold Medal for highest academic achievement. He remained at Waterloo for his MMath (1977) and PhD (1979), and joined the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization as a faculty member in 1980, becoming a full professor in 1990. Ian served as Department Chair three times, was Director of the Mathematics Business programs in the late 1990s, and served a five-year term as Dean beginning in 2010.
Ian is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and is well known for his research in algebraic combinatorics. He is also highly regarded as an instructor, and was a winner of the Faculty of Mathematics Award for Distinction in Teaching in 2009.
Ian lived at St. Paul’s beginning in 1972 and developed many life-long friendships in residence. In 2015, he led the effort to raise over $50,000 to establish a student award in memory of his good friend and fellow St. Paul’s alumnus Tom Dabrowski.
Scott Ste Marie (BES ’13): Young Alumni Award
In recognition of dedication to the cause of mental health.
Scott (BES ’13) lived at St. Paul’s as a first-year student in 2009 and was a residence don before graduating in 2013. As a student at Waterloo he suffered some anxiety and depression and learned that he could help himself by helping others. His focus is twofold: offering tips and strategies to those who need it and helping to break the stigma around mental health by talking openly and honestly about the issues.
Scott shares insights, knowledge, and strategies with an online community of about 50,000 subscribers, primarily through social media posts and YouTube videos. His YouTube Channel, ScottThought, has over 46,000 subscribers and well over 3 million views. He speaks regularly on the topic of mental health and has recently joined YouthSpeak.ca as a speaker.
Scott maintains strong connections with St. Paul’s, keeping in touch with a network of friends and playing in the annual St. Paul’s Masters.