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Alumni: Giving U of T more reasons to be proud


Recipient of the 2014 Adel S. Sedra Distinguished Graduate Award

Nadine Borduas possesses an infectious passion about science, the environment and policy, and that passion helped her win the 2014 Adel S. Sedra Distinguished Graduate Award.

Ms. Borduas is working towards her PhD in atmospheric chemistry. The Montreal native said she is “really proud” to win the award, telling her parents “it was like winning the gold medal in the Olympics, though my goal was not winning but continuing to do what I love every day.”

What she loves is research, and because of her long-held interest in the environment and climate change she switched from organic chemistry after getting her Master’s degree at U of T in atmospheric chemistry, which “fits my personality better. I like being outside and I’m interested in helping find ways to improve the environment.”

Professor Jonathan Abbatt of the Department of Chemistry said “with a remarkably positive attitude, Nadine contributes to the university widely, more than any other graduate student I have known.
Her enthusiastic leadership qualities arise naturally, and are exhibited not only in our research group but across the Department and beyond.”

Ms. Borduas has been the president of the Chem Club organization; actively involved with both the search for the new Chair of Chemistry and for the new Dean of Arts & Science; involved in promoting science to elementary and high school girls; was the only Canadian participant in a special U.K. course on societal issues related to energy; promoted discussions in the Chemistry department on ethical practices in scientific research and then developed a course for her fellow graduate students on that topic; and was leader of a Nuit Blanche presentation on chemistry.
Her long-term plan is to establish a research group in atmospheric chemistry at a Canadian university, and play a “small part” in finding solutions to deal with climate change, something that “keeps me up at night.”

Climate change “affects every single person in the world,” she said, “and it’s all our fault.” Last year she developed an assignment for an undergraduate chemistry course that won the Future Leaders in Green Chemistry Challenge in Education Award in the Department of Chemistry.

She continues to work with Environment Canada and last summer worked on a field campaign in the Alberta oil sands, and is also slated to deliver a paper on green chemistry at a Canadian Society for Chemistry conference in June.

The Adel S. Sedra Distinguished Graduate Award was created in 2002 in recognition of the remarkable contributions made by Professor Adel Sedra during his nine-year term as Vice-President and Provost. Among his many accomplishments during his tenure at U of T, Professor Sedra spearheaded the University’s efforts to provide minimum funding to its full-time doctoral stream students.

This award is presented along with several other faculty, staff and student awards under the banner of Awards of Excellence. A complete list of this year’s recipients and their citations can be viewed on the Awards of Excellence website. This award program annually recognizes the outstanding members of the University of Toronto community who have made rich and meaningful contributions to the University, their communities and to the world. Alumni Relations within the Division of University Advancement is the steward of the Awards of Excellence program on behalf of the University of Toronto Alumni Association, and co-ordinates the vital contributions of other University stakeholder groups toward this prestigious award progam.

Ms. Borduas and all other 2014 Awards of Excellence recipients will be honoured at a ceremony at the Isabel Bader Theatre on April 1.