Class of 2020 award winners

Governor General’s Academic Medal

The Governor General’s Academic Medal is one of the most prestigious awards a student in Canada can receive. Established in 1873, this honour recognizes exceptional academic achievement at the high-school, collegiate, undergraduate and graduate levels. Each year, McMaster awards just two Governor General’s Gold Medals to the students at the university who have achieved the highest academic standing at the graduate level. Earning this accolade not only places this year’s recipients among the top students to graduate from McMaster; it places them among the top students in all of Canada.

Rashik Ahmed

Rashik received his Honours BSc in Biochemistry at McMaster University and is graduating with a PhD in the Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences program. His doctoral research focuses on breaking the resolution barrier for the description of the early microscopic events leading to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. He is passionate about advocating for patients and families suffering from neurodegenerative disorders and disseminating progress in research on these topics. Rashik has been supported by the Canada Institute of Health Research CGS-M and CGS-D fellowships and is a recipient of the Thomas Neilson scholarship. He is grateful to his PhD supervisor, Professor Giuseppe Melacini, for fostering in him a passion for scientific research and commitment to the dissemination of knowledge and mentorship of students. Rashik dedicates this award to his family for their trust, support and encouragement throughout his academic journey at McMaster

Michael Gallaugher

Michael Gallaugher has graduated with a Ph.D. in Statistics completed under the supervision of Dr. Paul McNicholas and with support from a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. His research interests primarily focus on clustering and classification, the foundation of machine learning and data science. His research has been published in ten papers and he has been an invited speaker at numerous conferences including the 2017 Royal Society Commonwealth Science Conference in Singapore. He is currently a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at McMaster and he will be starting a faculty position at Baylor University, Texas as an assistant professor in the near future. In addition to his academic interests, Michael is an accomplished musician. He enjoys playing the piano, violin, and pipe organ. Michael would like to thank his supervisor, colleagues, family and friends for their continuous and unconditional support.

Presidents Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning

Bioblend headshots

BioBlend Team: Drs. Robin Cameron, Kim Dej, Rosa da Silva, Lovaye Kajiura, Joanna Wilson, Ms. Alison Cowie and Mr. Alastair Tracey

The BioBlend Team including Drs. Robin Cameron, Kim Dej, Rosa da Silva, Lovaye Kajiura, Joanna Wilson, Ms. Alison Cowie and Mr. Alastair Tracey is a splendid example of SOTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) and SOLE (Scholarship of Leadership in Education) merged into one effective and innovative teaching team. Impressive in its clarity of detail regarding process and content, the BioBlend Team demonstrates how to be adaptable and innovative without sacrificing academic rigour, accessibility, or inclusion based in learner diversity. Formed in 2013, the BioBlend teaching team has created an innovative first-year Cell and Molecular Biology course (BIO1A03) that is unique within Canada. The course couples comprehensive online modules and effective in-class learning with a meaningful laboratory project, all of which is grounded in a core research question. The decision to proceed with a ‘final exam free’ curriculum demonstrates boldness and bravery in a foundational post-secondary course. Processes in BIO1A03 course design also lay the foundation for dynamic curricular scaffolding, both within a given year, and progressively from year to year, in the Biology program. The BioBlend team encapsulates the iterative, recursive and consultative character of team-based teaching and mentoring that is often sought but rarely achieved to such a high degree of excellence in higher education. The “McMaster BioBlend Team,” as one colleague captured, has “had a profound impact on a new generation of Biology students at McMaster, and are international leaders in pedagogical innovation. Indeed, their work is inspiring others around the globe.”

 

Prof. Krista Madsen

Prof. Krista Madsen

Prof. Krista Madsen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology who has made significant contributions to the teaching and learning culture at McMaster. At the heart of Prof. Madsen’s teaching approach and philosophy is a sense of shared humanity, where moments of failure and vulnerability are seen as central to the growth, problem-solving, community, and creativity of students in her classroom. Prof. Madsen employs an iterative approach to her pedagogical instruction and innovations, which include consistently reshaping course assignments to ensure that they maintain relevance in the lives of her students, using a variety of digital and physical media to facilitate learning, problem-solving in professionally relevant ways, and coaching students on how to develop meaningful learning tools for themselves. Prof. Madsen’s investment in supporting the health and wellness of students also extends to her faculty colleagues. Prof. Madsen was selected by the Dean of Science to be part of the New Faculty Mentorship program and acts as a mentor for new teaching stream faculty. Prof. Madsen has also been nominated by students for the MSU Teaching Award ten times, and honoured with awards on three occasions. As one colleague summarized: Krista Madsen “is a forward-thinking innovator who always has student well-being, and the evolution of teaching and learning infrastructure, at her core.”

Dr. Colin McDonald

Dr. Colin McDonald

Dr. Colin McDonald is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. As an educator, Dr. McDonald is dedicated to creating meaningful learning experiences that help students move beyond just seeking good grades to an intrinsic motivation to learn. Within his classrooms, he creates experiences that promote teamwork and cooperation through innovative forms of experiential and problem-based learning. From “students as teachers” activities, applied labs with real world problems, and open-ended assessments where students can be creative, Dr. McDonald’s students say, “he can bring out the best in students by encouraging collaboration, experimentation, and critical thinking.” Dr. McDonald teaches first-year courses in both Engineering 1 and the iBiomed Program and has steered the development of new curriculum in both Programs. He also serves as the Associate Director (Undergraduate) of the Program. Dr. McDonald’s teaching and leadership have been consistently recognized by students and faculty in the Faculty of Engineering. He received the Faculty of Engineering’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2019, and was listed as a notable member of the Dean’s Large Selection Honour Roll for teaching in 2018. As one colleague notes: “As a result of the success of Colin’s teaching innovation in iBioMed, he has enabled [us] to reimagine the first-year educational experience of the entirety of Engineering 1. If that doesn’t indicate impact, I’m not sure what does.”

Dr. Emad Mohammad

Dr. Emad Mohammad

Dr. Emad Mohammad is an Associate Professor in the DeGroote School of Business who has demonstrated exceptional educational leadership in the creation of the exemplary Integrated Business and Humanities (IBH) Program, of which he is currently the Director. The IBH program has helped to reimagine learning for undergraduate Business students at McMaster by uniting and integrating principles and content knowledge from the fields of Business and Humanities, with the goal of creating a new type of Canadian business leader. IBH students participate in different types of learning experiences including interactive lectures, seminars, and co-curricular activities. The IBH program also places a strong emphasis on responsible leadership and management tactics designed for the global economy of the future where ethics, equity, and the cultivation of community engagement skills are central to the curriculum. Dr. Mohammad has proven to be an excellent teacher and leader at McMaster who has gone above and beyond in his dedication to students, and in navigating the cultural and disciplinary differences of the Business and Humanities Faculties in order to bring the best strengths, insights, and expertise of each field into the orbit of the other. “Integrating students and integrating faculty is not easy” as one colleague attests, but Dr. Mohammad’s “innovation, drive and enthusiasm have contributed to the quality of undergraduate teaching, faculty development, and the national and international reputation of the University.”

Dr. Jake Nease

Dr. Jake Nease

Dr. Jake Nease is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, an outstanding instructor, and a mentor who has had a huge impact on the students he teaches and his instructional peers. Jake is an educational ‘provocateur’ who stimulates, motivates, and supports students in their learning by creating a classroom environment that encourages discussion, participation, and exploration of open-ended problems. He has adapted his teaching strategies to better serve student needs using podcasts, YouTube, and Echo 360 presentations (even before the time of COVID-19), comprehensive course packs to support student learning, and has created a very successful optional exam scheme that reduces student anxiety and stress. In his Department, Jake has taken a leadership role as the Associate Chair of Undergraduate Studies and has ‘modernized’ the curriculum to enhance computation-based activities and increase opportunities for students to gain industrial experiences. Jake’s educational philosophy of encouraging student participation through active learning, mutual respect, humour, and clear expectations are reflected best in the words of a former student: Dr. Jake Nease is a “passionate, dedicated, and inspirational instructor”, “a generous leader and mentor”, and “the perfect example of the spirit of teaching we try to embody at McMaster”.

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