OAC Celebrates Outstanding Faculty, Staff and Students | Ontario Agricultural College

OAC Celebrates Outstanding Faculty, Staff and Students

Posted on Thursday, September 21st, 2023

The OAC Awards for student, staff and faculty were presented at OAC’s annual Welcome Back BBQ held on September 20, 2023. Each year, the OAC Alumni Foundation presents the G.P. McRostie Faculty Award to a faculty member who plays a significant role in education and the OAC Alumni Association chooses three faculty members who have made outstanding contributions in teaching, research or extension. 

The staff and student awards recognize excellent work performance, willingness to help others, contributions toward the betterment of workplace operations, and efforts in making OAC a better place to work and study overall. The recipients of these awards are nominated by their colleagues. Congratulations to all recipients!

Outstanding staff over 10 years of service

diana foolen holding her award in front of the portico

Diana Foolen, Program Assistant, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development

Diana supports approximately 300 in-program students in 2 professional programs, SEDRED’s accreditation reporting, and administrative duties for Landscape Architecture faculty. Diana processes over 1,000 program applicants per acceptance cycle and is always a sounding board for staff colleagues and is a go-to person for questions.

photo of kamini kolsen

Kamini Kholsa, Lab Manager, School of Environmental Science

Kamini provides support to nearly 100 HQP, including summer students, work study students, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. Beyond her technical excellence, Kamini is also a moral support for students, and has played a particularly important role for several students who have recently immigrated to Canada, especially those with young children. She has formally participated in the staff role on the School Safety committee for 10 years from 2012-2022, and has recently taken on the staff role on the Dept Outreach Committee.


Melinda Vanryn, OAC Dean's Office Program Counsellor

Melinda has the highest student caseload of any program counsellor at the University. She also teaches a course, guides the leadership conference team, volunteers for awards committees, and is member of an external program committee. Year after year Melinda guides students in putting on the OAC Leadership Conference, which is a huge time commitment, staying late at least one evening every week in the fall semester so that she can meet with students outside of their school and work commitments. She also volunteers to help on extra committees, task forces, and testing groups.


Outstanding staff under 10 years of service to OAC 

rebecca griffiths and john cranfield holding the staff award

Rebecca Griffiths, Undergraduate Program Secretary, School of Environmental Science

Rebecca has played a vital role in coordinating the massive window replacement project in SES – a total of 222 windows - all while continuing to perform her daily tasks. On several occasions, she has stayed late or come in early to catch up on her other duties


dr. mohsen and john cranfield holding the plaque award

Mohsen Yoosefzadeh Najafabadi, Research Associate, Department of Plant Agriculture

Dr. Mohsen has initiated many activities, including workshops to train graduate students, faculty and staff in using software. He is a leader and initiator of the Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Research web site that serves all members of OAC. Dr. Mohsen’s has exhibited a willingness to help students, staff and faculty with data analysis and experimental design, which goes beyond his regular duties.


Outstanding Student

jason lemay and john cranfield holding an award plaque

Jason Lemay, PhD student in the School of Environmental Science

Throughout his career at the UofG Jason has served on several committees and is also involved as OAC Outreach Event Assistant – Entomology and has spoken at several school events about academic studies in entomology. During the pandemic he organized and moderated a weekly discussion group with students where they would analyze a scientific paper in a group environment, fostering excellent relationships with his fellow students.


OAC Alumni Association and Alumni Foundation Award Winners

Thank you to the OAC Alumni Association and Alumni Foundation for offering and supporting these awards, and the OAC Alumni Association awards committee for their work in reviewing the nominations and selecting the below recipients.

photo of iris joye, john cranfield and member of alumni association

Iris Joye, Department of Food Science, G.P. McRostie Award

This award recognizes the importance of effective advising and mentoring in the education of OAC students. Iris Joye is a superb mentor who positively impacts many individuals throughout the academic spectrum. Iris currently has 9 Ph.D. students and 1 MSc, 2 Postdoctoral researchers and 2 summer undergraduate students. Working with this number of people individually takes time and Iris makes it look effortless. Iris has instituted an effective peer-mentoring program where new students are paired with more advanced students. This approach provides new students with a reference person for the questions they might feel awkward asking her.


photo of nadar soltani, accepting peter's award on his behalf

Peter Sikkema, Department of Plant Agriculture (Ridgetown campus), OAC Alumni Distinguished Researcher Award

This award recognizes outstanding research accomplishments by members of the college. Dr. Peter Sikkema conducts research on weed management in some of Ontario’s most widely grown field crops including corn, soybean, cereals, and edible beans. Peter supervises a large research team that typically includes 1 research associate (PhD), 4 research technicians, 5 graduate students and 10 summer research assistants who complete more than 200 field studies per year. During the past 26 years, Peter has secured nearly $18 million in external funding for his research. Dr. Nadar Soltani accepted Dr. Sikkema's award on his behalf.


Brandon Gilroyd, School of Environmental Science (Ridgetown campus), OAC Alumni Distinguished Extension Award

This award recognizes effective extension efforts used successfully in extension outside the University classroom by members of the college. Brandon is heavily involved in a wide range of groups, including individual producers, industry groups, government policy advisors, and more. Brandon conducts research in a number of emerging areas in the field of agriculture, including biogas production, understanding prion activity in waste (compost) and its potential health consequences, and in the disposal of livestock carcasses.

photo of tom tsian and john cranfield

Tom Hsiang, School of Environmental Science, OAC Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award

This award recognizes the importance of effective teaching in the education of OAC students.
Tom Hsiang consistently demonstrates a deep expertise and a genuine passion for imparting knowledge to students. His enthusiasm for teaching is infectious, creating an engaging and stimulating learning environment that motivates students to excel and explore beyond the confines of the classroom. He has graduated 5 Ph.D. students, 28 M.Sc. students and currently has 2 Ph.D. and 2 M.Sc. students in progress

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