CBS Teaching and Mentorship Awards 2022

Posted on Wednesday, June 29th, 2022

Each year, we ask our community to nominate an exceptional teacher or mentor who demonstrates outstanding leadership and commitment to student learning, wellbeing and success in CBS. The recipients of the CBS 2022 Teaching and Mentorship Award recipients are:

The recipient of the 2022 Graduate Mentor Award is Associate Professor Geoffrey Power from the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences.

Dr. Geoff Power and Dr. Maz FallahDr. Power’s research program is focused on the effects of aging on the structure and function of muscle contraction, muscle architecture plasticity, and how exercise provides neuroprotection for Masters athletes.

The nomination package for Dr. Power clearly indicated that he creates an environment and culture of support, encouragement, and a genuine desire to see graduate students succeed both academically and personally. Some examples of Dr. Power’s approach to create this environment mentioned by many of the students supporting his request included being very available whenever challenges arose, creating safe spaces to ask questions, and providing networking opportunities for students with both nationally and internationally researchers.

The nomination letter and letters of support clearly show that Dr. Power inspires a program that fosters innovation through support, encouragement and caring of trainees. For example, Dr. Power provides opportunities for trainees to gain new experiences through continued collaborations, including inviting and involving international researchers in virtual lab meetings.

Regarding his caring, a current graduate student wrote “…Geoff has worked closely with me to help me navigate … obstacles, and it has been a huge relief. Geoff appreciates that, while we are indeed strong students and researchers, we are also many other things. He cares about seeing us succeed in whatever ways we hope to, and constantly seeks out opportunities to help us work toward our goals.”

As a result of Dr. Power’s obvious success as a graduate mentor, and his ability to create a very rich and caring training environment for his students, he is highly deserving of this award.

Congratulations, Dr. Geoff Power.


The recipient of the 2022 Mentorship Award for Postdoctoral Fellows is Dr. Laetitia Maroc from the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Dr. Laetitia Maroc

Dr. Maroc is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Rebecca Shapiro, and is an expert in the genetics and molecular biology of Candida glabrata (Yeast). In only a short time, Dr. Maroc made lasting impressions on the lab culture and graduate student mentoring. As noted by the graduate students: “She has created a safe-space among graduate students and has facilitated necessary conversations around a number of topics such as diversity in academia, career paths, and the importance of prioritizing mental health.”

In the letters of support, Dr. Maroc is described as someone with consistent patience and willingness to provide support and guidance. Dr. Maroc was also described as: “always treating me as an equal, giving me the sense that all my questions, suggestions and ideas are valuable. She has high expectations of me, which has created in me a deep sense of commitment and ownership towards my work. The genuine trust in my abilities that I feel from Laetitia has helped me grow my confidence as both a scientist and a woman.”

The broader university community also benefits from Dr. Maroc’s mentorship, through the role of postdoctoral fellow representative on EVOFunPath, an NSERC Create-funded pan-Canadian program. In this role, Dr.Maroc leads research-based discussion groups with graduate students, and spearheaded new policies focused on EDI. As noted in the nomination: “I can think of no more important contribution to leadership and mentorship than Dr.Maroc’s role as an EDI champion for this graduate student training program, where she advocates tirelessly for practices that support a culture of equity and inclusion amongst graduate student trainees.”  

Dr. Maroc, it is clear from the nomination package that you have been critical to the personal and professional success of many of our graduate students and college as a whole.

Congratulations to Dr. Laetitia Maroc for this Mentorship award.



The recipient of the 2022 Faculty Teaching Excellence Award is Dr. Alex Smith from the Department of Integrative Biology.

Dr. Alex SmithDr. Smith’s research program is built upon projects designed to explore the causes and consequences of biodiversity across elevational, latitudinal and disturbance gradients  

As outlined in the nomination letter and letters of support Alex is an enthusiastic, approachable, open, inspiring educator who excels at engaging students in the learning process. in the classroom he has a large toolkit of techniques to engage students and be an effective educator, including: use of cutting-edge tools, active engaging student-centered learning, and being highly innovative during the challenges presented during the global pandemic. For example, Alex demonstrated his commitment to active learning, accessibility, and innovation in a way that not only preserved the learning experience for his students but added exciting elements that will continue in the courses after the pandemic. Alex and his colleagues created a “virtual forest project” in BIOL*1070, using GigaPan technology, which allowed students to explore a woodlot on campus and conduct a biodiversity study even as campus was shut down.  

In the nomination letter, Alex is described as a passionate teacher, mentor and advisor who uses creative approaches to inspire students to think critically and take leadership. Letters of support from students describe someone with a dynamic lecturing style, who has empathy for his students and who has had a very significant impact on their success.

“Dr. Smith is a truly amazing professor. Throughout the years I have known him, he has inspired me to reach my full potential as a student and pushed me to work harder in every aspect of my life.”  

Year after year, Alex has sought to provide his students with engaging experiences that lead to deep learning and a lasting appreciation for biological diversity and the scientific inquiry needed to discover, understand, and protect it.  

Congratulations to Dr. Alex Smith for the Faculty Teaching Excellence Award.

The recipient of the 2022 Graduate Teaching Assistant Award is Chris Pignanelli from the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences.

Chris PignanelliChris is a PhD candidate who is studying limb blood flow restriction and human performance  

It is clear from the nomination letter, and letters of support, that Chris has had a significant impact on the students that he has taught. Chris is described as an exceptional team member who exhibited a strong work ethic and collegiality in working with others to deliver a high-quality learning experience. Letters from students indicate that he demonstrated enthusiasm and genuine excitement about human physiology and that they greatly appreciated his significant efforts to create innovative learning experiences that aided in their success, especially during periods of remote learning during the pandemic.  

As outlined in one of the letters of support: “perhaps his greatest strength as a TA is his outstanding ability to engage, inspire, and excite students through teaching course material. Despite already having adept knowledge in exercise physiology, Chris always ensures to review course material students are taught in lecture. In lab, it is not uncommon to see Chris facilitating students learning through group discussion, helping them achieve a level of understanding of the given topic matter, well beyond what is expected.”  

Congratulations on this award, Chris, and thank you for your dedication to undergraduate training. 

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