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Awards of Excellence 2011 Recipients


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.



Faculty Award
Cynthia Goh, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Arts and Science

Northrop Frye Award (Divisional/Departmental)
Vic One Program, Victoria College, Faculty of Arts and Science

Carolyn Tuohy Impact on Public Policy Award
Anthony Doob, Centre of Criminology

Joan E. Foley Quality of Student Experience Award
Karen Reid, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Arts and Science

Chancellor’s Award – Emerging Leader
Helen Bright, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering

Chancellor’s Award – Influential Leader
Catherine Gagne, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering
Cheryl Shook, Registrar, Woodsworth College, Faculty of Arts and Science

Adel S. Sedra Distinguished Graduate Award Finalists (UTAA Graduate Scholars)

Jovana Kaludjerovic, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine
Gary Pluim, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
Mubdi Rahman, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Faculty of Arts and Science

John H. Moss Scholarship 

Zannah Mae Matson
Innis College, Faculty of Arts and Science

UTAA Scholars

Illya Nokhrin
Victoria College, Faculty of Arts and Science

Jong Park
Victoria College, Faculty of Arts and Science

Matthew Purser
Victoria College, Faculty of Arts and Science

Belle Song
Victoria College, Faculty of Arts and Science


2011 Awards of Excellence Recipients

University of Toronto Faculty Award

Cynthia Goh

Since her arrival at U of T in 1990, Professor  Goh has pursued a varied and energetic career as a scholar, teacher and academic entrepreneur. She has over 70 refereed publications to her credit. Among Professor Goh’s current research interests are nanoparticles and water splitting, a technology crucial to the development of hydrogen-based energy systems, and control of protein assembly and tissue construction, a field of immense promise in medicine.

Appointed professor in 2003, Professor Goh has combined research at a high level with an exceptional dedication to teaching and more than 100 undergraduate students and 25 graduate students have been trained in her laboratories. Her course in Experimental Physical Chemistry has garnered consistently high ratings from students. Professor Goh has also filled academic positions with distinction, including Associate Chair of Undergraduate Studies and Associate Chair of Graduate Studies in the Department of Chemistry. She is currently Director of the Institute for Optical Sciences.

It is Professor Goh’s innovative work in the area of scientific entrepreneurship, however, that makes her career so unusual. She is widely noted for having developed the seminar course Entrepreneurship 101, now offered to thousands at the MaRS Discovery District, and Techno 2010, a three-week summer intensive training leading to the formation of new tech companies. Vive Nano is among the successful companies started by students and mentored by Professor Goh. Many graduate students and entrepreneurs have cited Professor Goh’s individual mentoring as a decisive influence on their ideas and career trajectories.

Professor Goh herself has co-founded several companies with her students, including Axela Biosensors Inc. and Vive Nano, and sits as a director on the boards of several high-technology companies. Her name appears in connection with four approved U.S. patents. A native of the Philippines, Professor Goh was awarded the Philippine Heritage Medal in 1998 given by the Philippine President. She plans to continue entrepreneurship training with Techno2011, which will expand students from other places, including India, and to introduce other activities that will enable students to relate and transition to the outside world.


Northrop Frye Award (Departmental)

Vic One

Vic One is a program designed for exceptional and specially selected Arts & Science students at Victoria College. The program is currently divided into four streams of study, each named after a distinguished figure in the history of Victoria College: Northrop Frye (Humanities), Lester Pearson (Social Sciences and History), Egerton Ryerson (Education) and Augusta Stowe-Gullen (Sciences). These streams feature small group seminars, lectures, tutorials and informal conversation, and are enriched by weekly plenary sessions with guest professors, visiting artists, writers, ambassadors and other public figures. A fifth stream, the Norman Jewison Stream for Imagination and the Arts inspired by renowned filmmaker and Victoria University’s 12th chancellor, will be added to the program in September 2011.

Program enrollment is limited to 200 students and a maximum of 25 students per section. One of the goals of Vic One is to give students a small-class learning experience and foster a strong sense of community. Students get to know their fellow students and instructors well and participate in an enriched multidisciplinary curriculum. Academic standards are high and students are expected to undertake assignments involving research, despite the prevailing notion that first-year students are not ready for such engagement.

The connection between teaching and practice is stressed from the beginning.  Pearson and Frye students are given assignments that require searches in the Victoria archives or archives off campus. Augusta Stowe-Gullen students are linked to mentors in medicine or dentistry who are preparing research proposals.  Ryerson students design research posters that are reviewed by OISE faculty. Pearson students write briefing notes as if they were working for a Canadian embassy abroad.

This introduction to university study provides an excellent foundation for further work by encouraging the development of critical thinking, research and writing skills. Students have specific scholarships and bursaries at their disposal and the option of residing at Vic One House, which also facilitates stronger bonds with peers. The curriculum, calling for three seminars and two elective courses based on the academic goals of the student, is overseen by a faculty that excels at research, creative activity and teaching.

Vic One is now recognized as a premier program for first-year students. It is being used as a template by other colleges and universities for programs reflecting their own traditions.


Carolyn Tuohy Impact on Public Policy Award

Anthony Doob

Few scholars have had as much influence on issues of pressing public concern as Anthony Doob. Appointed assistant professor in the psychology department in 1968, he was cross-appointed to Criminology in 1971. Professor Doob was the third director of the Centre of Criminology from 1979-1989 and has been acting director occasionally since then. Since the early 1980s, his appointment has been shared between Criminology and Woodsworth College, where he teaches in Woodsworth’s undergraduate criminology program. He has published extensively on such topics as sentencing, juvenile justice, public understanding of the criminal justice system, and the development of criminal justice policy in Canada.

As a member of the Canadian Sentencing Commission in the mid-1980s, Professor Doob was part of a group that recommended an integrated approach to sentencing in Canada – an area of the criminal justice system that has been the source of controversy for decades.  He has consistently emphasized the need to reform the law on the basis of sound evidence rather than responding to headlines and political slogans.

Professor Doob has appeared numerous times before Parliamentary Committees and other government bodies and as an expert witness in criminal cases. In addition to being on the editorial boards of scholarly journals, he created (in 1997) and continues to co-direct Criminological Highlights. Criminological Highlights (supported by the Department of Justice, Canada) is an easily accessible source of information on recent high quality research that is of interest to those working in the criminal justice system in this country and elsewhere.   It is created by a group of faculty and graduate students and is published and distributed 6 times a year. Recipients in Canada and in over 30 other countries include judges, police, lawyers, federal, provincial and municipal government officials, and others who have an interest in criminal justice policy.

In addition to work on federal matters (e.g., youth justice policy, sentencing) Professor Doob has worked for the provincial governments on such matters as bail and the operation of the criminal courts. He is currently on the expert advisory board of the Ontario Ministry of Attorney General’s “Justice on Target” initiative. 


Joan E. Foley Quality of Student Experience Award

Karen L. Reid

Since her arrival on campus as a graduate student in 1992, Karen Reid has impressed people with her engagement, enthusiasm and clarity of thought. As a Lecturer (2001) then Senior Lecturer (2007) in the Department of Computer Science, Ms. Reid has demonstrated a gift for teaching undergraduates in all four years and leaving them with a sense of personal accomplishment.

Ms. Reid has extended her talent beyond the traditional classroom setting. She has worked with more than 60 undergraduates in research and development projects, often with the support of NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards or the internal U of T Information Technology Courseware Development Fund. These projects, which link pure course learning with practical application, greatly enhance student confidence in a competitive field that demands initiative.

Ms. Reid’s dedication to the collaborative spirit is shown by her work on DrProject, a suite of software tools for managing team projects in undergraduate courses. DrProject was featured as part of the 2007 proceedings of the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education, an important forum for software educators.  Another of Ms. Reid’s student-oriented initiatives is MarkUs, a tool that makes it easier for teaching assistants to add custom comments to submitted assignments. More than 40 undergraduate students have helped to build MarkUs which is now used by several thousand students in three different universities.

Ms. Reid has served as Chair of the steering committee of the Undergraduate Capstone Open Source Projects (UCOSP), which encourage the joint development of software by students at different schools. Like Dr. Project, this undertaking prepares students for the contemporary reality of collaboration across national boundaries.

All of this is clear evidence of Ms. Reid’s special dedication the student experience, for which she rewarded in 2008 with a Faculty of Arts and Science Outstanding Teaching Award. But the most convincing evidence of all is the large body of positive student testimonials about her work. As one student says, “Karen has achieved the remarkable task of developing a close-knit, distributed community of students…She leads us, but also gives us the freedom to make development decisions democratically. And throughout all this, her commitment to our learning… is paramount and obvious.”


Chancellor’s Award (Emerging Leader)

Helen Bright

Since her arrival at the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering in 1999, Helen Bright has proven herself to be a resourceful and dedicated admissions specialist. While fulfilling the traditional roles of counselor and administrator with distinction, Ms. Bright has introduced many improvements to database systems and shown leadership in the vital movement away from paper and toward electronic records. Students, faculty and administrations have all benefited from the enhanced efficiencies and reduced delay.

In her first two years at the Faculty, Ms. Bright updated the Faculty’s admissions publications and developed a grant database. As Senior Admissions and Scholarship Coordinator, she developed an OSAP database and system of electronic notification of students concerning the status of their grants. She was an able compiler of reports and statistics relevant to admissions policy and skilled in supplying custom information to her colleagues.

But it was as Associate Registrar, from 2006, that Ms. Bright made her gifts fully apparent, working with a colleague to develop the Engineering Student Portfolio for recording extracurricular activities, which are often a decisive consideration in the distribution of scholarships and awards. The result has been an increase in competitive applications resulting in faculty and staff being more easily able to identify suitable candidates. The new Student Profile Form has likewise made extracurricular activity easier to record and recognize.

Other innovations made on her watch are the introduction of live chat communication with applicants and an earlier notification of applicants outside Ontario. This is a significant aid to students who might face delays in securing study permits. Ms. Bright’s barcode tracking system has reduced the number of telephone and email inquiries and made the admissions process more streamlined and responsive. She has also made it easier to render decisions on the validity of transfer credits.

All of these improvements have heightened confidence in undergraduate admissions, an area that has an incalculable influence on the success of the faculty as a whole. Ms. Bright’s creativity, helpful interpersonal style and fearlessness in the face of challenges have made her an indispensible member of the team at the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering.


Chancellor’s Award (Influential Leader)

Catherine Gagne

Catherine Gagne has shown creativity, breadth and dedication in her 12 years as Chief Administrative Officer of the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering. This year marks her 20th anniversary working at U of T. Her work ethic and perceptive nature have led her to serve on many critical boards and committees, and her colleagues often seek her advice.

Ms. Gagne has provided an inspirational example to many other administrators, notably through the Mentoring Leadership program and the Succession Planning Program. One clear measure of her interest in staff is her introduction of the Engineering Staff Awards program in 2009. Ms. Gagne also established an annual professional development day for all Engineering staff for which she received a Stepping Up Award in 2006.

Ms. Gagne was an influential member of the New Budget Model Steering Committee, playing an important role in developing the model. She demonstrated a keen understanding of the financial operations of the University and the inherent implications of the model’s design, and subsequently implemented a hybrid model within the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering.

Another initiative that required exceptional command of detail was the implementation of the Province’s IT enrolment growth program (ATOP), in which Engineering played a major role. The program provided for the building of the Bahen Centre for Information Technology and the creation of many new academic positions to accommodate a 30-percent rise in Engineering undergraduate enrolment. Ms. Gagne navigated the various funding complexities while coordinating the move into the new building in 2002.

Ms. Gagne has proven a highly effective leader in managing budgets, human resources and physical space. She has ensured the financial integrity of all aspects of the Faculty’s budget, including student scholarships during the time of economic downturn.  Her understanding of staff issues has made her an HR resource, and she was called on to participate in the recent Human Resources Organizational Review as well as collective bargaining.  A member of AFD for 10 years, she is currently participating in the review of the Capital Projects project management process.  All of her work bespeaks a firm commitment to the Faculty, the University and her many colleagues.


Chancellor’s Award (Influential Leader)

Cheryl Shook

A University of Toronto administrator since 1983, Cheryl Shook was named registrar of Woodsworth College in 2003. Woodsworth is not only the largest undergraduate college in the Faculty of Arts & Science, with over 6,000 students, but in many ways it is the most diverse, encompassing a wide demographic and including substantial cohorts of mature and part-time students. Ms. Shook has proven herself a tireless advocate of students of all types and an excellent mentor to her team in the registrar’s office.

Ms. Shook has a particular interest in supporting students who arrive at U of T from alternative pathways. She is one of the driving forces behind the Millie Rotman Shime Academic Bridging Program, which offers students aged 20 or older an opportunity to qualify for admission to the Faculty of Arts & Science. This program admits over 600 students a year.

Another unique program organized in large measure by Ms. Shook is the Joint Program with Seneca College. Ms. Shook was the face of U of T to the initial 50 Seneca liberal-arts students during the pilot project and continues to support incoming students. This is an important initiative at a time when governments are interested in fostering ties between post-secondary institutions and may serve as a model to develop partnerships with other community colleges.

Ms. Shook’s influence is felt in many areas. She was instrumental in securing funding for a Learning Strategist for Woodsworth College an invaluable resource for students, advising staff and instructors.  Ms. Shook also oversees the administration of the Visiting Student Program, admitting over 500 students from across North America and abroad to study in the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto for the summer session.

All of these qualities are in addition to excellent administrative skills, a clear sense of the structure and procedures, and a friendly, approachable personal style. Ms. Shook’s role in heightening morale at Woodsworth is well known. She has also served with distinction on many University committees, including the Discipline Appeals Board and the Faculty of Arts & Science Committee on Teaching on Learning.


Adel S. Sedra Distinguished Graduate Award Finalists

Jovana Kaludjerovic

PhD student Jovana Kaludjerovic studies the effect of neonatal exposure to soy isoflavones on adult bone metabolism and the potential of soy-based infant formula to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Two of the five refereed publications on which she has worked have been selected for press releases by the journals in which they appeared. Ms. Kaludjerovic is co-president of Nutritional Sciences Graduate Student Association and student representative on the strategic planning committee of the Department of Nutritional Sciences. She works as a volunteer with the Ronald McDonald House to organize family dinners at the Hospital for Sick Children.

Gary Pluim

Gary Pluim is completing his doctoral dissertation on citizen participation in Canadian aid to education in Haiti. His career objective is to combine the scholarly analysis of international aid with active service to NGOs, and instruction in initial teacher education. “Working through concepts of multiculturalism, poverty and globalization with Canada’s future leaders,” he writes, “may inspire more visionary approaches to international education.” A former public-school teacher and international project manager, Mr. Pluim has won the Muriel Fung Student Appreciation Award at OISE and earned an Ontario Graduate Scholarship over three consecutive years. He is a graduate student representative for the OISE Faculty Council and a volunteer human-rights monitor with the Canadian Civil Liberties Organization.

Mubdi Rahman

Mubdi Rahman is a PhD student in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics with a special interest in massive star-forming complexes in the Milky Way Galaxy. Two papers on which he worked were published in The Astrophysical Journal in 2010. Mr. Rahman has won the Mary and Ron Martin Graduate Fellowship in Astrophysics and the Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award. His cutting-edge work in star formation is the perfect complement to his dedication to public scientific literacy. Mr. Rahman has given talks in secondary schools and worked for years as a judge in science fairs. He has been a driving force behind the Science Rendezvous series of public-awareness events and is also president of the Graduate Astronomy Students Association.


John H. Moss Scholarship

Zannah Mae Matson

Zannah Mae Matson is pursuing an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree at Innis College with specialist qualification in Peace and Conflict Studies, a major in Environment and Society and a minor in Urban Studies.  Her exceptional academic record has led to a lengthy list of scholarships and awards from both University of Toronto and national sources.

Despite her extraordinary scholarly performance, Ms. Matson has been extensively involved in  volunteer work and maintained a steady presence on organizing committees both within and outside the University. She has volunteered at the U of T Sustainability Office and was a U of T delegate to the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009. She was president of the U of T Environmental Resource Network while working as Vice-President of the Urban Studies Students Union. Her record of involvement includes official work for many ad-hoc justice committees, such as Students Taking Action Now: Darfur. In January Ms. Matson worked as co-director of the 2011 Peace and Conflict Studies conference on the theme of Mapping Local Landscapes: Community Approaches to Peace.

Off-campus experiences of note include work with Canadian Roots, a non-profit organization promoting exchange between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth. In 2009 Ms. Matson parlayed her interest in cycling into Otesha Rising Tide Tour, a program aimed at heightening environmental awareness that brought theatre pieces to community centres in the Maritimes.

Ms. Matson’s interest in environmental issues is deeply rooted. She has lived with her mother “off the grid” in a house they built north of Kingston. After her years of study at U of T, she has refined her interests to focus on the potential of urban municipal governments and participatory democracy at the local level to stimulate progressive policy more broadly. She plans to work in this field over the coming summer, after completing her B.A., before starting graduate studies in urban planning at the University of California Berkeley.


UTAA Scholars

Illya Nohkrin

A member of the Dean’s List for the last two years, Illya Nohkrin has also won an In-Course Scholarship, the John M. Coles Prize and the Charles Bruce Sissons Scholarship from Victoria College. He is studying English and Anthropology, two disciplines relevant to his particular interest in dialect in post-colonial literature. Among his extra-curricular activities at U of T was the creation of the Undergraduate Journal of Anthropology. Having spent a year abroad at Oxford, where he organized creative-writing workshops, Mr. Nohkrin plans to return to Oxford for graduate studies.

Jong Park

Jong Park has shown affinity for both advanced laboratory work and humanitarian studies abroad during his career as a Victoria College undergraduate.  He has worked on neuroscience research teams at the Hospital for Sick Children and undertaken an independent studies project in developmental biology at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute. Mr. Park’s compassionate interest in global health is demonstrated by his summer abroad in Kenya and volunteer work in Ghana, as well as work at the Sunnybrook and Princess Margaret Hospitals. A skilled communicator, Mr. Park is the Co-Editor in Chief of the Journal of Undergraduate Life Sciences. He plans to enter medical school in the fall of 2011.

Matthew Purser

A physiology student with multiple abstract publications in Endocrine Reviews, Matthew Purser has won many academic prizes, including the Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award and an NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award. He has spent two years doing research in the lab of Dr. Denise Belsham. While maintaining an excellent academic record Mr. Purser volunteers at Mt. Sinai Hospital and works as an undergraduate representative on the Academic Board of Governing Council. Of all his volunteer pursuits, Mr. Pursuer feels that his most rewarding volunteer work was as a mentor to younger students.  He will enter medical school at U of Ottawa next fall and plans to pursue a career as a research scientist.

Belle Song

Belle Song is pursuing an Honours B. Sc. with a specialist in Pharmacology and a minor in English. Her many academic honours include a research award from the National University of Ireland (where she spent a summer doing stem cell research) and the Oxford University Press Achievements in Chemistry Prize. Ms. Song has worked as chair of the Student Refugee Program for Victoria College and co-president of Students Against Hunger. Holder of an ARCT diploma in piano performance and theory from the Royal Conservatory of Music, Ms. Song has put her musical skills to work as a volunteer at the Princess Margaret Hospital Cancer Lodge. She will attend medical school at Queen’s University and is considering a career in public health.

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