CBS announces winners of the 2024 Teaching and Mentorship Awards

Posted on Monday, June 3rd, 2024

The College of Biological Science is honouring three exceptional educators and mentors with the 2024 CBS Teaching and Mentorship Awards. The awards recognize those who’ve demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to student learning, wellbeing and success.

The winners of the 2024 CBS Teaching and Mentorship Awards are:

  • Graduate Mentoring Award: Dr. Jennifer Geddes-McAlister, Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Mentorship Award for Post-Doctoral Fellows: Dr. Brendan Daisley, Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant Award of Excellence: Alex Cosby, Integrative Biology

Graduate Mentoring Award

Dr. Jennifer Geddes-McAlister, Molecular and Cellular Biology
Nominated by Brianna Ball, PhD candidate, Molecular and Cellular Biology

Jennifer Geddes-McAlisterDr. Jennifer Geddes-McAlister, associate professor in Molecular and Cellular Biology, has been a dedicated mentor to many trainees and professionals in her five years at the University of Guelph. Last term alone, she supervised 15 graduate students, five undergraduates, two postdoctoral fellows, one research assistant, two research technicians, and one bioinformatician working in her lab.

She gives each of her undergraduate and graduate students individualized attention, meeting with them weekly and working to support their personal academic and professional goals. Students are regularly encouraged to attend local and international conferences, brush up on skills at workshops, and apply for prestigious awards and scholarships. She helps students build networks by connecting them with leaders in industry and academia and brings in professionals working in industry, government and public health to speak about their career journeys.

“Ideally, a principal investigator is both a good supervisor and a good mentor, but not everyone is. However, Jennifer is both,” writes Dr. Jonathan Newman, vice-president of research at Wilfrid Laurier University and former CBS dean, in the nomination package. “She runs a busy and highly productive lab that has published over 35 papers in the last two years, many of them with her graduate students. She has endless patience not only for her students but also for her colleagues.”

Mentorship Award for Post-Doctoral Fellows

Dr. Brendan Daisley, postdoctoral fellow in Molecular and Cellular Biology
Nominated by Christine Macpherson, MSc student in Molecular and Cellular Biology

Brendan DaisleySince joining Dr. Emma Allen-Vercoe’s lab in fall 2021, Dr. Brendan Daisley, a postdoctoral fellow in Molecular and Cellular Biology, has acted as a mentor for many junior members of the lab. He has provided coaching to students in their lab techniques, oversaw their projects, and reviewed manuscripts, co-authoring 12 published articles in the past 2.5 years (and 30 so far in his career). In particular, he has become a highly sought-after mentor in microbiome bioinformatics for both students and technicians across departments and colleges. Last fall, he was named a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow, the most prestigious postdoctoral fellowship in Canada.

Described as a dedicated, thoughtful and inspiring, Daisley has supported students in their research and professional development and provided a safe space to discuss personal challenges.

“He embodies the greatest characteristics that any academic aspires to have: the passion and intelligence to embrace and elevate scientific pursuits, and the drive to advance the skills and knowledge of others,” writes Allen-Vercoe in the nomination package.

Graduate Teaching Assistant Award of Excellence

Alex Cosby, PhD student in Integrative Biology
Nominated by Dr. Quinn Webber, Integrative Biology

Alex CosbyAlex Cosby, a PhD student in Integrative Biology, is an exceptional teaching assistant, described as highly organized, independent and dedicated in her support of faculty members, as well as passionate, empathetic and always willing to go the extra mile to support students.

Cosby has been a teaching assistant for seven courses in the past three years. This past year, she took the initiative to independently organize and manage the Courselink pages for Dr. Quinn Webber’s two courses, BIOL*4150 and ONEH*1000, as well as helped write and edit assignments and rubrics, and made herself available to students when they needed help, especially those struggling to learn the R coding language in BIOL*4150.

“BIOL*4150 in F23 was my first course as an Assistant Professor at the University of Guelph and ONEH*1000 in W24 was my second,” writes Webber in the nomination package. “Having an experienced and dedicated TA like Alex made all the difference for me in my first two courses.”

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