Outstanding graduate students and mentors recognized at Graduate Awards Ceremony

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

In April, the School of Pharmacy recognized the achievements of outstanding graduate students and mentors at the annual Graduate Awards Ceremony. This year’s awards represent achievements from May 2017 to April 2018.

Highest Grade in the Course Topics in Drug Development: Mohamed Aborig

Mohamed AborigThis award recognizes the highest performing student in Topics in Drug Development, a mandatory course for pharmacy graduate students. This year the course was taught by Professor Tejal Patel, and the highest grade was achieved by Mohamed Aborig, a MSc candidate in Professor Shawn Wettig’s lab.

“Mohamed contributed thoughtfully to this course and demonstrated his interest in research through his innovative ideas that pushed by boundaries,” says Patel. 


Best Student Presentation in the Research Seminar Series: Osama Madkhali

Osama MadkhaliPresenting in the Research Seminar Series is a requirement for PhD students at Waterloo Pharmacy. Two faculty members independently adjudicate presentations on quality of slides, quality of presentation, understanding of field of study, ability of the presenter to respond to questions, and overall impression of the presentation.

This year’s recipient is Osama Madkhali, a PhD candidate in Professor Shawn Wettig’s lab. His presentation was entitled “Cationic gelatin/Pluronic-based nanoparticles as novel non-viral delivery systems for gene therapy.”


Best Thesis Defence in the Pharmacy Graduate Program: Daniella Calderon-Nieve

Daniella Calderon-NieveThis award recognizes the strongest thesis defence from a graduate student in the previous year. Daniella Calderon-Nieve is this year’s winner, nominated for her thesis titled: “Improving the delivery and immunogenicity of an inhalable CpG-ODN DNA vaccine by bio-adhesive gemini nanoparticles in neonatal chickens.”

Daniella is a graduate of the MSc in Pharmacy program and was supervised by Professor Marianna Foldvari. Her research involved developing non-invasive inhalable nanoparticles to deliver vaccinations in the poultry industry. Vaccines are an ideal alternative to the antibiotics that are widely used in poultry.


Best Mentor as a Graduate Student Teaching Assistant: Gokul Raj Pullagura

Gokul Raj PullaguraGokul Raj Pullagura is a PhD candidate supervised by Professor Nancy Waite. Gokul has acted as a teaching assistant in numerous courses, including Professional Practice 4 and PharmD Bridging Program Clinical Rotation 1. Regardless of subject matter and duties, Gokul is praised for his strong technical abilities, attention to detail, reliability, initiative, and generosity.

When working with students, he provides meaningful feedback and maintains a kind and calm manner which helps calm students’ nerves.  His conscientiousness in his teaching assistant duties exemplifies the degree of professionalism the School aims to instill in its students.

Special Merit Award for Substantial Impact on Our Overall Research Mission: Shannon Callender

Shannon CallenderThe Special Merit Award recognizes a student who has contributed significantly to the School’s overall mission. Shannon Callender does this through her award-winning research, and she has demonstrated excellence both inside and outside the lab. Her commitment to advocacy for graduate students is apparent in her previous roles of Director and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the University of Waterloo Graduate Students Association and president of the Pharmacy Graduate Student Association.

Shannon is a PhD candidate supervised by Professor Shawn Wettig, and she shares her expertise in many ways. She presents her work to lay audiences, and acts as a high school tutor, a peer mentor, and a big sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region. She has represented the School in competitions like the Three Minute thesis and at numerous functions. Shannon engages in these and other activities while also maintaining a stellar track record of academic success.

Donald J. and Kathleen D. McDougall Graduate Scholarship: Nyasha Gondora

Janet McDougall and Nyasha GondoraThe McDougall Scholarship recognizes graduate students who demonstrate scholastic excellence and commitment to community service. Nyashsa Gondora, PhD candidate in Professor Michael Beazely’s lab, is this year’s recipient. Nyasha is a strong student who makes time to engage in a wide variety of community initiatives including cultural, mentorship, religious, and academic activities.

She is also a mentor within the graduate program and a positive ambassador for Waterloo Pharmacy. Her exceptional communication skills and civic engagement demonstrate her commitment to both the School of Pharmacy and the Kitchener-Waterloo area.

Outstanding Faculty Mentor in the Graduate Program: Jamie Joseph

Jamie JosephThis award goes to a faculty member who has demonstrated exemplary commitment to student mentorship. Professor Jamie Joseph is this year’s recipient and has been praised as inspiring and encouraging, someone who holds students to high standards and provides the support necessary to meet expectations. He models effective research for his students, ensuring they develop strong lab skills and solid expertise in both foundational knowledge and advanced scientific concepts.

Joseph’s students describe him as dedicated to constructive mentorship and professional development – he offers his students opportunities to deliver guest lectures and encourages international conference participation. He also ensures his students appreciate the importance of work-life balance and reminds them that dedication to research should not come at the expense of a life outside of work.

Congratulations to all winners!

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