2021 CEPS Awards

Posted on Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021

Prof. Marcel Schlaf, Department of Chemistry
Dr. Marcel Schlaf, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and this year's winner of the CEPS Graduate Supervision Award, provides an exceptional training experience for his graduate students.

Each year, the CEPS Awards provide an opportunity for the community to celebrate and recognize each other’s achievements. Over the past year, the CEPS community has continued to showcase its dedication to teaching, learning and research—even under exceptional circumstances. The awards were presented at the CEPS annual college meeting on June 21, 2021.

The nominations were adjudicated by the College Awards Committee, which is composed of one voting member from each of CEPS’ five academic units: Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Statistics, and Physics. The winners are as follows:

Assistant Professor Research Excellence Award

Prof. Eran Ukwatta, School of Engineering, receives this year’s CEPS Assistant Professor Research Excellence Award. The award is given to the assistant professor who best demonstrates enhanced research productivity and the potential for continued research program growth.

Ukwatta is an emerging leader in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), with a focus on medical image analysis. He is working to develop new AI-based tools for computer-aided diagnosis of cancer and other diseases. As principal investigator, Ukwatta has secured more than $1.56 million in peer-reviewed funding from agencies such as NSERC, Mitacs, and the Ontario Centre of Innovation; and from private sector partners. He has 91 publications that have been cited 1,031 times to date. His recent work on an AI-based algorithm to detect scar tissue in the heart was featured on the cover of Medical Physics. He is currently supervising/co-supervising 33 highly qualified personnel, including 17 thesis-based graduate students.

CEPS Graduate Supervision Award

Awarded to the faculty member who best exemplifies sustained excellence in graduate student supervision, Prof. Marcel Schlaf, Department of Chemistry, receives the CEPS Graduate Supervision Award. Schlaf has dedicated significant time and effort to supporting the Department of Chemistry’s graduate programming, including as Graduate Coordinator.

For over two decades, Schlaf has provided an exceptional learning experience for a diverse group of MSc and PhD students. His graduate students are afforded unique opportunities. For example, they frequently collaborate with globally-renowned research centers such as the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Moreover, Schlaf’s students frequently cite the positive training environment that he provides as being a major contributor to their success. One student nominee for Schlaf wrote: “I truly believe that if Marcel was not such a supportive, understanding and compassionate advisor, I may not have returned to my graduate studies.”

CEPS Undergraduate Supervision Award

Prof. Ed McBean, School of Engineering, receives the CEPS Undergraduate Supervision Award, given to the faculty member who best exemplifies sustained excellence in undergraduate supervision. Notably, more than half of McBean’s graduate students started their research careers as undergraduate students in his lab. The students who nominated him for the award emphasize his ability to foster a passion for research in his trainees and his dedication to student mental health as key factors leading to their success.

One student nominee for McBean wrote: “Dr. McBean has also been instrumental in affirming my desire to pursue a professional career in research, academia, and education.”

McBean involves his undergraduate students in every facet of the research life cycle, using each aspect of a project as a potential learning opportunity. He also includes his undergraduate students on the authorship team for manuscripts submitted to peer-reviewed journals.

CEPS Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award

Awarded to the faculty member who best exemplifies sustained excellence in undergraduate teaching, Prof. William Tam, Department of Chemistry, receives the CEPS Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award. Tam’s teaching evaluations are consistently among the highest in the Department. Students describe his teaching as innovative, engaging, impactful, and comprehendible, as well as having a significant impact on their career.

One of his nominators wrote: “William showed me the true beauty of organic chemistry and how exciting it can be.”

His lectures are famous for including real-world problems to illustrate concepts learned at the interface between medicine and chemistry. He also holds impromptu tutorials outside of class time to provide in-depth explanation of any homework that his class may have struggled with.

CEPS Staff Excellence Award

Awarded to the staff member who has provided exceptional contributions towards fulfilling the College’s mission and mandate, Lisa O’Dwyer, Graduate Program Assistant in the Department of Chemistry, receives the CEPS Staff Excellence Award. O’Dwyer goes above and beyond the call of duty by providing consistent and exceptional mentorship to graduate students, helping to successfully guide them through their tenures as graduate students.

Graduate students recognize and appreciate O’Dwyer’s commitment to their wellbeing. In 2017, she was awarded the Congeniality Award from the Graduate Student Body and, in 2019, graduate students nominated her for the R. P. Gilmor Student Life Award. Notably, O’Dwyer spearheaded the creation of a Chemistry Graduate Student Planning Committee. She also reorganized the Department of Chemistry’s website to create a graduate student space.

Congratulations to all the 2021 CEPS faculty and staff award recipients!

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