Celebrating graduate program achievements at annual award ceremony

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

 Lilian Toma,  Chiying Feng, Yannick Traore, Jiahao Huang, Sam Dubinsky and J.M. Gamble

Top row, left to right: Lilian Toma,  Chuying Feng, Yannick Traore. Bottom row, left to right: Jiahao Huang, Sam Dubinsky and J.M. Gamble

Since 2013, Waterloo Pharmacy has recognized the excellence of our Master’s and Doctoral students at an annual Graduate Awards ceremony.  Though the pandemic spurred transitions to online study and research, with limited time in the lab, graduate students continued to thrive and this event recognizes their achievements.

Congratulations to the following award winners who were recognized at yesterday's ceremony:

Donald J. and Kathleen D. McDougall Graduate Scholarship: Lilian Toma

Lilian Toma, a member of Prof. Praveen Nekkar Rao’s lab, is this year’s recipient of the Donald J. and Kathleen D. McDougall Graduate Scholarship. This award was established by UW alumnus Janet McDougall to honour her parents. The award is bestowed based the student’s demonstrated commitment to community service as well as their academic achievement.

Lilian exemplifies a strong commitment to community service as evidenced by her ongoing volunteer commitments in several organizations in the region. She serves her community as an ER/ICU Volunteer at St. Mary’s General Hospital, a position she has committed herself to since 2016.  She’s a Conversation Partner with the KW Multicultural Festival and a Personal Care Aide at Pinehaven Nursing Home. According to her referees, Lilian demonstrates “excellent interpersonal and communication skills, as well as compassion.  She is respectful, conscientious, enthusiastic and “shows genuine care for patients and their families.  Lilian is a bright and skilled student and a pleasure to work with.” 

Highest Final Grade in the Course Topics in Drug Development: Chuying Feng

This award recognizes the student who achieved the highest grade in the required course Topics in Drug Development. Chuying excelled in the course, demonstrated a strong work ethic and excellent grasp of content.

Best Student Presentation in the Research Seminar Series: Jiahao Huang and Yannick Traore

PhD students in Pharmacy must present their research at our graduate studies seminar series, as part of the Graduate Studies Seminar milestone requirement.  Each student presentation is reviewed by three reviewers, based on the quality of the presentation slides, the quality of the presentation itself, understanding of the field of study, the ability of the presenter to answer questions, and on the overall impression of the presentation.

Six presentations were in fall 2020 and winter 2021. The following two presentations tied for the highest score:

  • Jiahao Huang for his presentation “Supersaturation properties of polymer and lipid excipients for solid oral dosage forms”
  • Yannick Traore for his presentation “Development and characterization of stimuli-responsive drug delivery systems”

Best Graduate Student Teaching Assistant: Sam Dubinsky

This award recognizes excellent teaching and preparedness by a graduate student teaching assistant (TA) and is based off nominations. Despite being brand new to the TA experience, this year’s winner Sam Dubinsky stood out by “going above and beyond expectations in every way.” When unfamiliar with course content, he conducted research to quickly familiarize himself, and he invested extra time to provide individualized feedback for each student to help them advance their knowledge.  Students often commented on how much they valued his contributions.  

Outstanding Faculty Member in the Graduate Program: J.M. Gamble

This honorary award recognizes faculty members who go above and beyond providing support for graduate students. It is awarded based on nominations submitted throughout the year. 

This year’s recipient is Prof. J.M. Gamble. Nominators remarked on his strong engagement with students, even with the busy workload of teaching, research and clinical duties. He consistently ensures professional development of his students by giving opportunities to develop both hard and soft transferrable skills.

Nominators appreciated how Prof. Gamble encourages them to reach beyond their comfort zone, to expand their learning so they can grow as independence scientists while “never setting them up for failures they cannot recover from.” As a compassionate leader, he ensures that students feel included and empowered in all areas of their graduate experience and has provided flexibility to allow students to refocus and rest during highly stressful times.

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