The University of Waterloo will award posthumous degrees as part of its fall convocation in celebration of the academic accomplishments of Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani and Marizeh (Mari) Foroutan, two students killed in the crash of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752 in January 2020. An honorary degree has also been awarded to Jaya Gupta, an undergraduate Engineering student who lost her fight with cancer earlier this fall.

“The sadness at the loss of Mansour, Mari and Jaya has been profound both personally and across our University community,“ says Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor. “As we recognize our graduating students, we felt it important to celebrate the academic and personal contributions of each of these wonderful individuals to honour their memories. The University of Waterloo is most certainly a better place having had them as part of our community.”

jaya gupta

Jaya Gupta

Waterloo awarded Gupta an honorary Bachelor of Applied Science degree in September 2020 before she lost her battle with a rare form of cancer. Her degree was granted at a special virtual ceremony attended by Hamdullahpur and Mary Wells, dean of engineering. The Nanotechnology Engineering student also received her iron ring, a significant milestone for every engineer.

“Everyone in the Faculty of Engineering was deeply saddened by Jaya’s passing,” said Wells. “It was an honour to have the opportunity to come together and celebrate her Waterloo Engineering and many other accomplishments. Our hearts are with her family and friends.”


 mansour esnaashary

Mansour Esnaashary

Esfahani will be awarded  a Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering. He was conducting his doctoral research in the area of construction automation and management, focusing on adaptive reuse projects in the circular economy. 

“Mansour was a bright, well-respected young researcher who is greatly missed in our research community,” said Wells. “We are proud to honour his work and his memory with this degree.” 



Marizeh (Mari) Foroutan

Foroutan’s graduate work in the department of Geography and Environmental Management focused on the application of new algorithms and technologies in remote sensing to study climate change as well as researching planetary extremes from hyper-arid hot deserts to freezing worlds. She will be awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in Geography.

“The entire Environment community was devastated at the loss of Mari. Her dedication to improving our world was an inspiration to so many,” said Jean Andrey, dean of the Faculty of Environment. “While we are heartbroken to be without her today, we are grateful for the opportunity to recognize her contributions, both personal and academic.”

Both Foroutan and Esfahani will be honoured on October 23 as part of the fall 2020 virtual PhD graduate celebration.

The University is creating memorial awards for Foroutan and Esfahani, with generous support from alumni and donors.