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Awards of Excellence 2010 Recipients

U OF T’S MOST DISTINGUISHED AWARDS PROGRAM

The Awards of Excellence celebrate members of the University of Toronto community who, through their individual efforts and accomplishments, have contributed to the University’s vision of becoming a leader among the world’s best public teaching and research universities. Those honoured through the program have stepped up to the challenge of making rich and meaningful contributions to the University, the community, and to the world.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF THIS YEAR'S AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE RECIPIENTS!

 

Faculty Award
Professor Frank R. Kschischang, Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering

Northrop Frye Award (Individual)
Professor Brad Inwood, Departments of Classics and Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and Science

Northrop Frye Award (Divisional/Departmental)
Division of Teaching Laboratories, Faculty of Medicine

Carolyn Tuohy Impact on Public Policy Award
Professor Ronald Deibert, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts and Science

Vivek Goel Faculty Citizenship Award
Professor Emeritus Safwat Zaky, Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering

Ludwik and Estelle Jus Memorial Human Rights Prize
Professor Daniel Heath Justice, Departments of English and Aboriginal Studies, Faculty of Arts and Science

Joan E. Foley Quality of Student Experience Award
Christopher Perumalla, Faculty of Medicine

Chancellor’s Award – Emerging Leader
Cameron Clairmont, Department of Management, UTM, Faculty of Arts and Science
Pamela Gravestock, Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation

Chancellor’s Award – Influential Leader
Attila Keszei
Office of the Assistant Vice-President, Facilities and Services

Adel S. Sedra Distinguished Graduate Award 
Sagar Dugani, Institute of Medical Science, Faculty of Medicine

UTAA Graduate Scholars
Bryce Croll (Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Faculty of Arts and Science)
Greg West (Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts and Science)

John H. Moss Scholarship 
Erin Fitzgerald, Victoria College, Faculty of Arts and Science

UTAA Scholars
Michael Beeler (Innis College, Faculty of Arts and Science)
Leslie Busby (Woodsworth College, Faculty of Arts and Science)
Jasmeet Sidhu (Trinity College, Faculty of Arts and Science)
David Topping (Victoria College, Faculty of Arts and Science)

 

2014 Awards of Excellence Recipients

Faculty Award

Professor Frank Kschischang

A brilliant researcher, a gifted speaker and a beloved mentor. He is a man who strives for the perfect balance between elegant mathematics and solving practically relevant engineering problems. Professor Kschischang is one the teaching and research stars in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering.

Professor Kschischang is a world leader in communications and information theory.  He is a Tier I Canada Research Chair and Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and of the Engineering Institute of Canada. He also won the 1999 Premier’s Research Excellence Award and is a 2010 recipient of the prestigious Killam Research Fellowship.  One of his papers was recently awarded the 2010 IEEE Communications Society and Information Theory Society Joint Paper Award.

His peers shower him with praise, but it is his students, and former students, who may see the best in him. Benjamin Smith, a graduate student who has worked with Professor Kschischang at the Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, says the professor “routinely elucidates difficult concepts by providing the perfect mix of physical intuition, practical relevance and mathematical rigour…he presents digital communications within a mathematical framework that is both elegant and insightful, in a manner that is accessible to undergraduate students.”

Professor Kschischang has played a profound role as a mentor to his graduate students. Ten of the 12 PhD students and half-dozen postdoctoral fellows he has supervised now hold faculty positions in Universities across Canada, and in the U.S. and Australia.

 

Northrop Frye Award (Individual)

Professor Brad Inwood

Professor Inwood has inspired several generations of students to discover the riches of ancient Greek and Roman thought.   Undergraduate students at U of T have benefited for more than 25 years because of his brilliance and understanding.   He is a professor of Classics and Philosophy at U of T and the Canada Research Chair in Ancient Philosophy.

His foundation of the Collaborative Program in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (CPAMP) in 1992 has helped place U of T among the top doctoral programs in both ancient and medieval philosophy and the only one which integrates the two fields. In his own research Inwood is best known for his work on philosophy in the pre-Socratic and Hellenistic periods.

Professor Inwood’s scholarship places U of T on the map, attracting the brightest graduate students to the campus, but he devotes equal attention to his undergraduates.  His students at all levels admire and respect not only his research but his willingness to spend time with them.  Former student Joanna Langille says “Professor Inwood had a significant influence on my intellectual development.   The fact that he helped me to be a more careful, respectful thinker – even in an academic discipline far from his own – is a testament to his excellence as a teacher, researcher and scholar.”

Professor Inwood is the author of three groundbreaking books – Ethics and Human Action in Early Stoicism, the Poem of Empedocles and Reading Seneca: Stoic Philosophy at Rome.  He has edited or co-edited four volumes of essays and published more than 40 scholarly papers.

He was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1994; was a Fellow at the American National Humanities Centre in 1995-96 and at Stanford’s prestigious Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioural Sciences in 2004-05.   He became a university professor in 2007.     

Northrop Frye Award (Departmental)

Division of Teaching Laboratories

The Division of Teaching Laboratories (DTL) has a tremendous impact on the educational experience of students in the various Life Sciences programs.  Laboratory courses, bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge acquired in didactic courses and practical hands-on experience which is vital in programs such as Biochemistry, Human Biology, Immunology, Medical Genetics, Pharmacology and Physiology.

Under the leadership of its director, Dr. Chris Perumalla, DTL has introduced many cutting-edge techniques in molecular biology, electrophysiology, proteomics, microarrays and animal surgery skills in several DTL-run courses.   These techniques use expensive and sophisticated technology not often found at other universities, allowing U of T undergraduate students to prepare more than adequately for careers as research assistants, and graduate students.

An Academic Initiate Fund grant provided resources to link research and teaching and the program offers superior laboratory experience to students, allowing some of them to use state-of-the-art, real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction and microarray technologies.  DTL also provides researchers in the Faculty of Medicine with supplies of bacteriological and yeast media for their research; the profits from this project are ploughed back into DTL budget and have been used to upgrade laboratory equipment and supplies.  These new initiatives have enabled DTL to exemplify the new budget model at UofT.   

Leo Wan, president of the Biochemistry Undergraduate Student Society, says in lab courses “students are finally allowed to see how powerful the current research toolbox is in deciphering biological mysteries.   This certainly brings about an interest in research and a combination of this interest and knowledge gives us an upper hand in gaining summer research positions.”

In 2007, DTL in collaboration with New College has developed the Faculty of Medicine’s Youth Summer Program, which offers high school students the opportunity to experience the world of medicine and medical research.  Every year, about 400 high school students from over 15 countries attend this program.  One module took the SARS outbreak from 2003 and had students learn about microbiology and microbes directly from the people working on the outbreak at the time.

 

Carolyn Tuohy Impact on Public Policy Award

Professor Ron Deibert

Professor Deibert is among a handful of scholars world-wide who are changing public policy globally.  He is the rarest of social scientists – discovering something that has transformed the behaviour of individuals and governments.  His desire to apply his research “on the ground” is illustrated by the Citizen Lab, which he created and installed at the Munk Centre for International Studies.

The Citizen Lab is considered a “hothouse” that combines the disciplines of political science, sociology, computer science, engineering and graphic design.  The lab’s ongoing research network includes the Information Warfare Monitor and the OpenNet Initiative, ONI Asia, and benefits from collaborative partnerships with academic institutions and NGOs.

Professor Deibert’s work has been publicized in dozens of media outlets and perhaps the most notable was Tracking GhostNet:  Investigating Cyber Espionage Network which received international attention.   The investigation uncovered a network of more than 1,295 infected hosts in 103 countries.   In one week in 2009, Google news recorded 2,500 main and spinoff stories about the report.  This April, Deibert and his fellow authors of the 2009 report released another investigation, called Shadows in the Cloud,that unveiled a global network of “botnets” – computers controlled remotely and made to report to servers in China.   Their report exposed one of the biggest online spy rings ever cracked.

While some people point to China as an aggressive cyberactor, Professor Deibert has pointed out that cyberspace has become a battleground for intense military competition.  Many countries are developing offensive cyberwarfare capabilities, including targeted espionage.

While GhostNet and Psiphon, the software tool that circumvents internet censorship, are huge achievements, Professor Deibert’s lasting legacy may be the students he has inspired to become engaged global citizens.  

 

Vivek Goel Faculty Citizenship Award

Safwat Zaky

Safwat Zaky has served the University of Toronto with great distinction for more than two decades, making transformative contributions to his profession and forging lasting ties with industry, government and other universities.

In his administrative roles as chair of the Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and U of T’s vice-provost, planning and budget, Professor Zaky created and implemented systems that will benefit the University for years to come and serve as models for other institutions.

Professor Zaky joined the U of T teaching staff in 1973 and became associate chair of ECE in 1985 and chair of the department in 1993. During his tenure he implemented a major expansion of ECE, doubling undergraduate enrolment, increasing the number of graduate students by 80 per cent and hiring more than 30 new faculty members. He also launched a highly successful fundraising campaign that raised $80 million in support of 11 endowed chairs, numerous scholarships and a new building to house the Bahen Centre for Information Technology. The campaign also led to the naming of the department for Edward S. Rogers Sr. in recognition of a generous gift from the late Ted Rogers in honour of his father.

Professor Zaky advanced engineering education nationally as the founding president of the Canadian Heads of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He was also a founding member of the board of Communications and Information Technology Ontario, a member of the CIHR University Industry Peer Review Committee and a member of the board of the Information Technology Research Centre.

As the University’s vice-provost, planning and budget, Professor Zaky led the redesign of the U of T budget model, working with a small group of deans and senior administrative staff to develop a new process for annual planning and budget review. He is credited with creating consensus based on clear logic and fairness. “Safwat steered us through with an always appreciable sense of calm,” one of the participants has noted. Thanks to his wise leadership, the University now enjoys a budget process that is both transparent and more closely aligned with academic priorities.

In the course of his career, Professor Zaky has made many other major contributions to the University and to engineering education in Canada. Through it all, as his nominators attest, he has demonstrated the values of outstanding faculty citizenship—creativity, integrity and collegiality.

 

Ludwik and Estelle Jus Memorial Human Rights Prize

Professor Daniel Heath Justice

Daniel Heath Justice has devoted his life and work to advocating for the civil and human rights of the silenced and dispossessed peoples of our world.   That statement was made by James Cox, director of the Indigenous Studies Graduate Portfolio at the University of Texas, and someone who has known Professor Justice for 10 years.

Professor Justice came to the U of T from the University of Nebraska in 2002 and has made positive and lasting contributions ever since.   He became one of the most important scholars and teachers of indigenous literary nationalism, especially through his ground-breaking book, Our Fire Survives the Storm:  A Cherokee Literary History. 

His positive and lasting impact is felt directly at the U of T through his one-on-one work with native students, his ability to bring previously inexperienced young people to thinking about social justice and creative activism against oppression and his encouragement of both graduate and undergraduate students to take on community service as part of classes.

Professor Justice is actively involved in the Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures, which allows him to further mentor students in how to engage in the kind of provocative and respectful scholarship he publishes.   There are very few people teaching in this important field at U of T, and Professor Justice makes it flourish as a scholar, teacher and administrator.

Lisa Brooks, from Harvard, visited U of T in 2007 and met some of Professor Justice’s students.  “Not only were they forming sophisticated intellectual arguments and questions, it was clear that human rights issues and complex moral questions were inextricably intertwined with their academic pursuits…it was clear that Daniel had encouraged the development of critical thinking skills and complex analytical frameworks, as well as the development of critical inquiry as an intellectual strategy, for both academic work and student activism,” Brooks says.    

 

Joan E. Foley Quality of Student Experience Award

Christopher Perumalla

Dr. Perumalla is a natural, gifted and visionary leader, with an impeccable record as an educator.   His work outside the classroom as a mentor and sometimes just as a good listener is just as impressive.   Just ask any of his students over the past 25 years.

In addition to lecturing in several physiology courses, Dr. Perumalla spends many hours talking to hundreds of students outside the classroom as an undergraduate academic counselor in the Physiology Specialist and Major programs.   “You have been a mentor and a willing guide for me throughout my undergraduate career at U of T, and have truly made a difference in my life” one student says. “Thank you for your ear and advice.  

Dr. Perumalla created the Youth Summer Program for the Faculty of Medicine in his role as Director of the Division of Teaching Laboratories (DTL).   The program provides high school students with an exclusive glimpse into the world of medicine, medical research and other health science professional programs.  Last year, Dr. Perumalla visited Stanford University which has had a similar program for 25 years, and his counterpart there was so impressed with what Dr. Perumalla had accomplished in just two years, she visited U of T to learn more about what he has done here.

Last year, Dr. Perumalla offered four full scholarships to economically disadvantaged high school students, making it possible for them to attend the Youth Summer Program.  He is also working with the Toronto District School Board and the Peel-Dufferin Catholic School Board to offer scholarships for inner city high school students to attend the program cost-free; both these school boards have matched the scholarships offered by the Faculty of Medicine.

In his role as director of the DTL, Dr. Perumalla is working with faculty members to incorporate new technologies and lab exercises.  Graduate students get an opportunity to work with faculty to design and test the labs.  

Dr. Perumalla has been instrumental in designing, developing and delivering Faculty of Medicine’s first online course in Basic Human Physiology.  This online course is a full course equivalent course and is offered to non-U of T students in collaboration with School of Continuing Studies. 

Dr. Perumalla won the Faculty of Medicines most prestigious, W.T. Aikins Award in 2006 in the category of large classroom lecture delivery and has won the Life Sciences Undergraduate Excellence Award. He has been awarded the Physiology Departmental Excellence of Teaching Award three times in the past ten years.

 

Chancellor’s Award – Emerging Leader Category

Cameron Clairmont

As director of operations for the management department at the University of Toronto – Mississauga (UTM), Cameron Clairmont works closely with the chair and academic directors to implement undergraduate and graduate programs, overseeing daily operations and staff.

Cited for his dynamism, commitment, intelligence and collegiality, Mr. Clairmont seeks opportunities for the acquisition of new job skills and education. Although he already held network technologies and human resources professional certifications from the US when he arrived in Canada, he began studying for the Canadian Certified Human Resource Professional designation and passed its knowledge examination.

By constantly going beyond the requirements of his job, Mr. Clairmont displays significant potential to assume positions of greater responsibility. He seeks means of extending his role in ways that are helpful to the Department of Management and others at UTM and possesses the ability to communicate effectively at all levels in the organization. He has built very strong relationships with the many people across the tri-campus arena involved with the management department, particularly UTM’s Business Services group. He motivates his team and challenges them to do more and better. Members of his staff call him “a leader and a mentor” and “an incredibly supportive boss”.

Mr. Clairmont’s accomplishments extend to his volunteer work outside the University. He has been a court-appointed guardian ad litem for a young man with autism and has acted as an advocate for a person with schizophrenia. At U of T he has volunteered beyond the requirements of his position. Drawing on his own experience, he mentors the “trailing partners” of newcomers to the University, helping them adapt to life in Canada and find employment.

Innovation is one of Mr. Clairmont’s strengths and his contributions have been called “astonishing”. He was instrumental in the reinvention of the administrative structures of three UTM departments during the launch of the master’s program in the management of innovation (MMI).  Since the launch, he has overseen the MMI program, designing its literature and publicity materials, identifying channels to reach graduate students and performing many other valuable functions such as overseeing the creation of state-of-the-art classrooms. Every step of the way he has responded diligently to the needs of UTM’s growing graduate population.

As his nominators write, “Everything Cameron does, he does with utter distinction and dedication. He has an incredibly strong work ethic, consistently going above and beyond parameters to get the work done.”

 

Chancellor’s Award – Emerging Leader Category

Pamela Gravestock

A true leader and mentor on campus, Pamela Gravestock has worked tirelessly to improve the quality of teaching across the University of Toronto. Serving as the associate director of the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation (CTSI), she oversees a growing team of professionals providing critical support to thousands of faculty members and graduate teaching assistants across the University through workshops, courses, orientations and special events.

Described as “an organizational dynamo” by her colleagues, Ms. Gravestock is credited with dramatically improving the quality of resources and services offered to faculty, departments and divisions seeking to improve teaching and learning and expand their knowledge of innovative teaching practices. Through various committees, she has played a key role in shaping the University’s policies around teaching and learning. She has also published extensively on the topic of teaching and learning issues.

Ms. Gravestock sets a very high standard for service excellence. According to colleagues, one of her great strengths is her personal understanding of the energy and dedication needed to excel as an instructor and her ability to empathize with faculty members looking to her for guidance on teaching-related matters. The amount and quality of one-on-one support she provides to instructors is truly exceptional. The advice she dispenses has won her the respect of deans, department heads, junior faculty and students alike. Leading by example, she inspires the entire CTSI team.  

Ms. Gravestock is a calm, capable and trusted leader who has had an impact on the University that exceeds the requirements of her position. Her involvement in the development of the Graduate Professional Skills Program for graduate students was recognized by the 2009 U of T Stepping Up Award and she received the same award in 2006 in recognition of her work in helping to establish the Office of Teaching Advancement (the forerunner to CTSI). She has taken the initiative to participate actively in many U of T projects and was recently asked to play a leading role in the university-wide Course Evaluation Working Group, based on a research report she co-authored for the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. She is also currently completing her PhD in Higher Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).

Through her work and her interactions with others, Ms. Gravestock has demonstrated uncommon energy, commitment and integrity. “The University of Toronto is a better place because of her efforts and talents,” is the way one colleague puts it. Truly she is one of the University’s emerging leaders.

 

Chancellor’s Award – Influential Leader Category

Attila Keszei

Attila Keszei joined the University of Toronto in 1978 and, in the course of his long career, has served as a mechanical design engineer, a resources management engineer and a manager of building mechanical systems. A compassionate and committed individual, he has helped to keep U of T running as efficiently as possible for 31 years.

Mr. Keszei is widely respected for his environmental consciousness. In fact, his high standards for energy efficiency have made U of T a Canadian leader in energy innovation. Initiatives such as the construction of the cogeneration plant, major lighting retrofits and more efficient water use have translated into very large cost savings for U of T—gains made without impairing the institution’s ability to provide the energy required to fuel the rapid growth of research activity, the student population and building construction. Thanks to his efforts, greenhouse gas emissions on the St. George campus have been reduced by approximately 23 per cent, resulting in savings of $183 million.

Since 2008, Mr. Keszei has been the University’s Manager of Sustainability Initiatives. In this expanded role, he is pioneering conservation projects in transportation, procurement and recycling, as well as energy management. His leadership and wealth of experience are helping to ensure that U of T makes further progress in the use of green materials, products, systems and construction methods. His most recent contribution is the completion of the solar thermal array heat recovery system at the Warren Stevens Athletic Centre.

In his new role, Mr. Keszei is also expanding his mentorship of students and young people. Mentoring is not part of his official job description but it is a task that he deeply cares about. Working with the University’s Sustainability Office, he is passing on his knowledge to future leaders in the new and rapidly growing discipline of sustainable building management. Whether by meeting with a student to provide advice and feedback on a project proposal or working directly with students and young staff members on approved projects, he likes to challenge them to achieve all they can. As one of his recent charges writes, “He constantly encourages me to take a larger role in projects, to ask questions, to learn more and ultimately to push myself to be a better engineer and to better serve the mission of my office and community around me.” 

His colleagues conclude: “The University of Toronto would be considerably poorer, less beautiful and less inspired had Attila not been here to lead the way to a more sustainable, comfortable and highly efficient campus.” 

 

Adel S. Sedra Distinguished Graduate Award

Sagar Dugani

Cutting-edge health research does not guarantee its own distribution to the people who need it most. As the winner of the 2010 Adel S. Sedra Distinguished Graduate Award, Sagar Dugani hopes to pursue a career that combines the twin imperatives.

Mr. Dugani has already melded them powerfully in the MD-PhD program offered by the Faculty of Medicine. As a researcher, he has been involved in neurodevelopment, aging and stem cell research. As a medical student he has developed an appreciation of the need for community medicine in a world that must care for single mothers, seniors, the homeless and other vulnerable groups.

“As a clinician, I will be part of the Canadian healthcare system that constantly is aiming to improve the health of Canadians,” Mr. Dugani says. “As a researcher, I plan to work with Canadian and international organizations to address challenges facing the world’s most vulnerable populations.”

Having grown up in India and spent time in the U.K., the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, Mr. Dugani understands differing health care systems from the inside. He has recently joined a group dedicated to the reconstruction of health care in Afghanistan.

Mr. Dugani has won many grants and awards, from the Ontario Medical Association, Canadian Medical Association as well as U of T and U of T Scarborough. While his current base is Canada, his view of healthcare is global. “The poorest areas of Bangalore, Dubai and Toronto,” he says, “have convincingly demonstrated that human pain and suffering have no geographical, cultural or racial borders.” Through his research, clinical work and advocacy, Mr. Dugani is committed to addressing these universal challenges.

UTAA Graduate Scholars

Bryce Croll

Bryce Croll has been fascinated by exoplanets – planets orbiting stars other than our sun – ever since the first such worlds were identified in the 1990s. His work on the wavelength measurement of exoplanets as a PhD student in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics has been exceptional, earning him numerous grants and prizes.

Mr. Croll has focused on so-called hot Jupiters, planets as massive as Jupiter that revolve around a star in an orbit closer to that of Mercury’s to the sun. With the aid of next generation telescopes, Bryce hopes to apply his techniques to the study of planets in other solar systems that may harbour life. A self-described political junkie, Bryce also has ambitions beyond astronomy. After a successful life in science, he might pursue a second career as a political commentator or as a candidate for public office – presumably on Planet Earth.

Gregory West

As an adolescent, Gregory West slowly lost his grandmother, Lucy, to Alzheimer's disease. "This influence drew me to the psychological sciences," he says, "and inspired me to study ways in which cognitive functioning can be enhanced and preserved."

The PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology has been named a UTAA Graduate Scholar on the strength of his work on visual attention and memory. Mr. West investigates how visual information is processed as memory and how visual stimuli, including video games, might enhance higher-order cognition in those suffering from neurodegenerative disorders. A volunteer with youth organizations, Mr. West has also served on the Executive of the Graduate Students' Union as the Finance and Services Commissioner, and served on Governing Council.

 

John H. Moss Scholarship

Erin Fitzgerald

Already named a Rhodes Scholar, Erin Fitzgerald has added the John H. Moss Scholarship to her 2010 honours. It might not be the last award for this hardworking Victoria College undergraduate pursuing a specialist degree in International Relations.

A fourth-year student, Ms. Fitzgerald has already undertaken field work in Guyana and at G8 summits in Japan and Italy. A summer spent at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C. has sharpened her interest in security issues and specifically the role of the military in maintaining a secure environment for citizens and for the development organizations that so often attract the interest of socially conscious students.

Ms. Fitzgerald started her studies with an idealized belief in the potential of the United Nations as an instrument to provide security. This did not last. “An internship at the World Health Organization in Geneva persuaded me that excessive bureaucratization limits its potential for effective action,” she says.

Military intervention must be undertaken with care, however, and with a full awareness of the changes afoot in international politics and trade. At Oxford she will enter the Leverhulme Program on the Changing Character of War. She hopes to expand and deepen her ideas on the strategic, organizational and legal dimensions of modern conflict.

While Ms. Fitzgerald foresees participation in the public sector, she plans to remain an academic, firmly believing that great ideas are the seeds of progress. Papers she coauthored with Anthony Cordesman of the Centre for Stratetgic and International Studies have been discussed in The Atlantic and the Wall Street Journal. Reports originating in the academy can and do affect policy dialogue.

As an internationally ranked karate athlete – helpful in fulfilling her Rhodes qualifications – Ms. Fitzgerald understands the strategy of conflict at many levels. She has also worked with the Hart House debating team in international meets. The object of conflict is resolution, not more conflict. “By researching security challenges and operationalizing my research in policy,” she says, “I will be able to ameliorate the lives of countless people around the world.”

UTAA Scholars

David Topping

Victoria University student David Topping is a prodigious talent. While pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English, he got involved with Torontoist—a modest website featuring information about the city. He quickly became editor-in-chief and transformed the site into one of the most recognized sources for information, opinion and comment in Toronto. Today he coordinates a staff of four dozen writers, photographers, illustrators and also contributes numerous articles to the site every week.

Despite all of this activity, he has maintained a “straight A” average and even found time to serve as president of his residence council, as a front-of-house coordinator at the Isabel Bader Theatre and as the Features Editor of The Strand, Victoria University’s student newspaper—and, in 2008, he became the instructor of the School of Continuing Studies' first-ever course about independent online journalism. Truly one of the University’s most impressive citizens, David’s driving curiosity, intelligence and work ethic are something to behold. Toronto will be hearing a lot more from this young man in the future.

Leslie Busby

Leslie Busby, a graduate of the Millie Rotman Shime Bridging Program, has taken a non-traditional route to post-secondary education, overcoming a number of significant challenges along the way. As a University of Toronto student, she has proven to be an outstanding scholar, a model classmate and a natural leader.

In addition to maintaining a remarkable grade point average of more than 3.9 in the English Specialist Program, Leslie has greatly enriched student life by serving on numerous councils and committees, volunteering as an academic mentor and tutor and taking part in a range of activities as a speaker. In 2008, she co-founded All Lit Up, a campus-wide speaking series exploring career paths for liberal arts graduates. She has also worked as an editor and contributor to Vox, Woodsworth College’s academic undergraduate journal. She volunteers with Second Harvest and helps manage i-bloom, a new self-help website for women. After graduation, she plans to pursue graduate studies. If her stellar undergraduate career is any indication, Leslie is surely on the path to great success.  

Jasmeet Sidhu

Since arriving at Trinity College, Jasmeet Sidhu has consistently distinguished herself as one of the University’s brightest students, maintaining an impeccable grade point average and collecting various academic awards. She has been a leading voice for the “greening” of the campus, playing an instrumental role in creating the Green Roof at St. Hilda’s residence and persuading Trinity College to sign the President's Climate Initiative, an ambitious scheme to render North American universities climate neutral. 

Her accomplishments outside the University are abundant. She has written a regular column for The Toronto Star since 2007, covering subjects such as diverse as politics, culture, global health, multiculturalism, immigration and domestic violence. She also began the newspaper’s first climate change blog, traveling to United Nations conferences in Poland and Copenhagen to cover the issue. For her outstanding work, she has received numerous awards, including being named to Glamour Magazine’s Top 10 College Women in 2009. After graduation, Jasmeet hopes to pursue a career in journalism to foster positive social change in the world.

Michael Beeler

During his time at the University of Toronto, Michael Beeler has worked hard to create opportunities for students to learn about and participate in the fight against global poverty.

As Founding Executive Director of Students for International Development (SID), a non-profit organization and student club based at UofT, Michael has led nineteen 3-month volunteer placements in 2008 and 2009 in Western Kenya, and has organized another 27 placements for 2010 in Kenya and Peru. Michael's teams have managed the completion of two rural health facilities treating over 12,500 patients per year, oversaw the expansion of a microfinance organization, started an agro-forestry tree nursery and launched a school program that feeds more than 400 children. 

A Peace and Conflict Studies major, Michael will be starting a Masters at UofT in Industrial Engineering in September and hopes to bring the tools of social sciences and applied sciences together to combat extreme poverty.

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