2012 Alumni Recognition Awards

    The recipients of the 2012 Alumni Recognition Awards are some of the most successful individuals in their fields, earning them our respect and the alumni association’s highest awards.

    By Rick Pilger on July 30, 2012

    An innovator in international aid. A medical pioneer. An industry-changing inventor. The recipients of the 2012 Alumni Recognition Awards are some of the most successful individuals in their fields, earning them our respect and the alumni association’s highest awards.

    Distinguished Alumni Award

    The Alumni Association’s most prestigious award recognizing a living graduate whose truly outstanding achievements have earned them national or international prominence

    Scott GilmoreScott Gilmore, ’95 BCom, was working with a UN peacekeeping mission to East Timor in 2001 when he realized the noises to which he awoke each morning weren’t just annoying clatter—they were the sounds of positive economic change. Below his window, his Timorese landlord was using the money from Scott’s rent to refurbish minibuses and to hire local boys to work as drivers and mechanics. “He was soon the largest employer in the neighbourhood and provided an island of stability and prosperity, all because of my rent cheque,” says Scott. (Read more...)

    Lubomyr RomankiwLubomyr T. Romankiw, '55 BSc(Eng), along with Steve Jobs, was among those inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C. Had the Apple co-founder been alive to participate, he could have been expected to shake Lubomyr’s hand with extra warmth—for without the work of the U of A alumnus in making data storage compact and affordable, there may well have been no Apple computer, no iPod, no iPhone. (Read more...)


    Theodore AaronTheodore (Teddy) Aaron, ’39 BSc, ’42 MD not only witnessed major changes in the discipline in his nearly seven decades of practising medicine, he was at the forefront of a number of them. He was the first person in Alberta to administer penicillin, and his research led to the use of antihistamines in cold medications. The breadth of Ted’s contributions to health care in Alberta is recognized in professional circles in his being named one of Alberta’s Physicians of the Century and receiving the Pharmacy Centennial Award of Distinction—the only person to make both lists. (Read more...)

    Alumni Honour Award

    Recognizing the significant contributions made over a number of years by University of Alberta alumni in their local communities and beyond

    Sten BergSten Berg, ’54 BSc(Ag), has made significant contributions to agriculture in Canada and beyond. Sten was organizer of the Western Hog Grower’s Association (WHGA) and was known for his innovative hog breeding and production management practices. In 1962, as chair of the WHGA market development committee, he pioneered outreach to the Japanese market. At its peak, 15 per cent of Alberta’s hog production went to Japan. In 1974, Sten was appointed to the Alberta Export Agency. He later launched his own market consulting firm and served as chair of the Alberta Cattle Commission. He was involved in numerous projects in China, including an evaluation of human and natural resources of the Himalayan mountain territories. Sten also served as a Strathcona County elected councillor.

    Andrew Dawrant
    , ’93 BA, is widely considered the top Chinese-English language interpreter working in China today. Andrew is the only native English speaker accepted as a Chinese language interpreter at the United Nations. He has also served at other high-level meetings of the UN, G8/G20 and International Atomic Energy Agency. Andrew began his career as a Chinese language interpreter for the Government of Canada in 1996 after graduating from the U of A and completing conference interpreter training. He instructed in the simultaneous interpretation program at Beijing Foreign Studies University and, in 2002, simultaneously interpreted a speech by U.S. president George W. Bush broadcast to an audience of hundreds of millions across China. Currently, he works as managing director of Sinophone Interpretation, a firm based in Shanghai.

    Merna FosterMerna Forster, ’76 BA, has made important contributions to bringing Canadian history alive. Merna has done this through innovative public awareness initiatives that promote a better understanding of the brilliance, ingenuity, energy and creative power of Canadian women. The recipient of many awards, she has worked on numerous public education programs and outreach activities in Canada’s national parks and national historic sites. She is also well known for her public presentations, her writing and her media commentary. Her life work has culminated in a trio of invaluable resources: the heroines.ca website she created in 2004 and two best-selling books, 100 Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces and 100 More Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces. She is currently executive director of the Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History Project at the University of Victoria.

    Dianne GreenoughDianne Greenough, ’78 BEd, has taken the art and athletics of cheerleading to new heights. In 1995, she was invited to develop an acrobatics co-ed cheer team for the Edmonton Eskimos Football Club, which was soon regarded as North America’s best. Her Victoria School of the Arts cheer teams won 52 city and provincial titles and 200 championship trophies from competitions around the world.
    She recently coached the gold medal-winning Team Canada in the ICU World Cheerleading Championships. She has choreographed numerous high-profile events, including the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, the 2001 World Track and Field Championships and the 2005 World Masters Games. She is the creator of the Alberta Cheerleading Association and also founded Perfect Storm Athletics, which works with young people in fitness, leadership and success.

    Megan HodgeMegan M. Hodge, ’73 BSc(Speech), has dedicated her career to advocating for children with severe speech sound disorders. A longtime faculty member in the U of A Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, she has been an innovative teacher, mentor and champion of clinically relevant research. In 2005, she received the Eve Kassirer Award from the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists for outstanding professional achievement. Megan’s work has resulted in the development of a widely used tool for measuring children’s speech intelligibility, as well as an effective intervention approach for children and their families. Known by the trademarked name Let’s Start Talking, this innovative and creative program applies theoretical principles of neuroplasticity and speech learning to a structured curriculum.

    W. Laird HunterW. Laird Hunter, ’74 BA, ’75 LLB, has devoted much of his career to helping advance the law and regulatory regime applicable to charities and non-profits in Canada. Appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 2006, he brought together Canadian federal and provincial departments with voluntary-sector representatives to improve the regulatory environment in which non-profits operate. He has worked on provincial and federal legislative reviews of co-operatives in eight Canadian provinces and contributed to the advancement of First Nations communities. Laird was instrumental in shaping the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act. In 2012, the Law Society of Alberta and the Canadian Bar Association honoured him with a 2012 Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his pro bono activities.

    Yasmin JivrajYasmin Jivraj, ’80 BSc, is a seasoned business executive with more than 30 years of experience in the information technology (IT) sector. She is president and co-owner of Edmonton-based Acrodex, which has offices across Canada and a development centre in India. An active community leader, she has served on the boards of CBC/Radio-Canada and the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation. She is a supporter of, and has served on the board of, the Aga Khan Foundation Canada. For her contributions to the advancement of IT she was named a Fellow in 2005 by the Canadian Information Processing Society and, in 2011, NAIT awarded her an Honorary Bachelor of Technology in Technology Management.

    Prem KaliaPrem Kalia, ’64 BEd, has lived a life of service through teaching and advocating for global peace, universal brotherhood and social justice. He has done this in the classroom, the United Nations Club, the Multicultural Council of the Alberta Teachers’ Association and the Mother Teresa Habitat Institute. Through the Mahatma Gandhi Canadian Foundation for World Peace, he brought attention to many issues, raising awareness and supporting initiatives that share Gandhi’s philosophy. As chair of the foundation for more than a decade, he was a recognizable leader who established the U of A’s Gandhi Institute and local conferences at high schools. He was instrumental in establishing Gandhi Peace Weeks and the Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Graduate Scholarship at the U of A.

    Krishan JosheeKrishan Joshee, ’68 BEd, is a highly respected community leader whose efforts have built bridges between cultures and communities for the purpose of serving society. A former science teacher, he is a model for engaged citizenship. He has been on the board of organizations as diverse as the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the Edmonton Police Commission, the National Film Board and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. He is a founder and former president of the Edmonton Heritage Festival, and former premier Ralph Klein declared him a lifetime chair of the Wild Rose Foundation. In the late 1980s, Krishan helped create the Mahatma Gandhi Canadian Foundation for World Peace. He has also received the Alberta Achievement Award for Service and the Order of Canada.

    Patricia LanePatricia C. Lane, ’79 BA, ’82 LLB, has championed equality in the legal profession. Her work on employment benefits for same-sex couples and their ability to be married in Manitoba permanently changed that province’s social landscape. She served on the Collaborative Practice Manitoba Association for many years. She also helped develop the Youth Helping Youth program and, in 2003, the youth involved won the inaugural Sybil Shack Human Rights Youth Award. Her honours include the 2010 Ally Award, presented by the Canadian Bar Association for work advancing equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and two-spirited people. She is active in programming nationally and in the U.S. on effective conflict resolution communication and has board positions on the Women Lawyers Forum for both jurisdictions.

    Jean McBeanJean McBean, ’68 BA, ’72 LLB, won widespread respect within the legal profession and in the broader community for her passion for social justice, and for the thousands of volunteer hours she committed to serving those most vulnerable in society. For four decades, she was an active teacher in the areas of family law and matrimonial property law to members of the legal profession and members of the bench, as well as to the general public. In 2001, she left private practice to set up legal aid offices for family law in both Edmonton and Calgary. A former president of the Alberta New Democratic Party, she also served a term as a commissioner of the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission. (Ms. McBean passed away in April 2012.)

    Michael MowatMichael R. A. Mowat, ’79 PhD, is a cancer researcher whose work focuses on tumour suppression genes. Over the last 30 years, Michael—a senior scientist and professor at the Manitoba Institute of Cell Biology—has published in many high-impact scientific journals, including his seminal paper in the journal Nature in 1985 that clarified the true role of the gene p53. He showed it to be a tumour suppressor, not a tumour-causing gene, and p53 is today the most studied gene in human disease. In 1992, the U.S. National Cancer Institute invited Michael to serve on its committee for research excellence in lung cancer. He is also recognized for his teaching, mentoring and relentless dedication to community service.

    Donald SinclairDonald A. Sinclair, ’73 MEd, is an outstanding leader in education whose work has benefitted many educational institutions in his native Australia. He has written award-winning textbooks and served as chief appointments officer for the Victorian Ministry of Education. Determined to improve the world around him, he volunteered to teach long-sentence prisoners to matriculation level at night. He has also been involved in Australia’s Ryder-Cheshire Foundation almost since its inception 50 years ago and, as its national chairman, provided leadership to its efforts to ease the suffering of the disabled and destitute of impoverished areas. In 2009, in recognition of his leadership and his diverse contributions to the nation, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia.

    Mogens SmedMogens Smed, ’72 BA, is a creative business leader whose decisions are guided by a steadfast environmental consciousness. He founded Smed Manufacturing in the mid-1990s and focused on producing modular interiors for office space, reducing reliance on traditional building materials, which often end up in landfills. After building SMED International into a multimillion-dollar company, Mogens founded DIRTT (Doing It Right This Time), which has pushed the envelope of modular interiors by using and producing less waste, and adding more design and performance to its products. Interiors & Sources magazine named Mogens an Environmental Champion for his commitment to stopping the corporate cycle of procure, build and demolish. DIRTT has received numerous other awards recognizing the excellence of its products and its environmental commitment.


    The Alumni Centenary Award for Voluntary Service

    Recognizes alumni who have demonstrated commitment, dedication and service to the University of Alberta

    Michael BullockMichael Bullock, ’60 MD, has been a key supporter of U of A medical students since 1991, when he and his wife, based in California, established a bursary that provides financial support to two students for their entire medical training. Michael worked as a railroad brakeman and in logging camps to put himself through university and worked as a medical technologist before enrolling in medicine. During breaks from medical school, he worked, literally, night and day to finance his education. Michael wishes to reward students who are “self-reliant” and who have earned money to help pay for medical school. He believes that such students should find time to “smell the roses.”

    Wendy JeromeWendy C. Jerome, ’58 BPE, is one of the University of Alberta’s most willing volunteers. A reunion class organizer for the Office of Alumni Relations, she helps out with numerous alumni events and activities and is an active committee member for the Physical Education and Recreation Alumni Association. A former professor at Laurentian University and former national coach with the Canadian track and field team, Wendy is a pioneering Canadian sports psychologist. One of the first people in North America to earn a degree in sports psychology, she founded Canada’s first undergraduate sports psychology program in 2001 at Laurentian. Wendy has worked with athletes from almost every sport and from five countries.

    Alumni Award for Excellence

    Celebrating recent, outstanding accomplishments of University of Alberta graduates

    J. Waymatea EllisJ. Waymatea Ellis, ’97 BEd, is the lead singer, face and founder of Canada’s top reggae band, Souljah Fyah. Honoured at the 2011 Western Canadian Music Awards for Urban Recording of the Year, Souljah Fyah has appeared at some of Canada’s most prestigious music festivals and was nominated for a JUNO Award in 2009. As a social studies teacher, she tied music to country and culture, sharing the message that “uniqueness is not a weakness.” She is currently studying to be a minister of prayer with the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers to enhance her work with children. She has also been recognized as one of Avenue magazine’s Top 40 under 40 and with a Women of Vision award from Global TV Edmonton.

    Benjamin SparrowBenjamin Sparrow, ’99 BSc(Eng), is the CEO of Saltworks Technologies and lead inventor of its series of revolutionary desalination processes. Saltworks’ patented processes produce freshwater and solid salt from a variety of water sources, including seawater, mine tailings and oil-and-gas-produced water. Its technologies are proving to be lower-cost than conventional methods and environmentally friendly, using renewable heat from the sun or waste heat from industrial processes. His company is working with Albertan oil majors and has delivered plants to the Canadian navy, NASA and a major Australian energy company. In 2012, he was recognized with Business in Vancouver’s Top 40 Under 40 B.C. Award, based on his leadership, exemplary work ethic and groundbreaking accomplishments.

    Jane WalterJane Walter, ’93 BEd, founded organicKidz in 2008 to provide safe, toxin-free baby bottles as an alternative to plastic ones containing bisphenol A (BPA). Created from food-grade stainless steel, her baby bottles are now sold in 35 countries. They have been featured on the Today Show and in O, The Oprah Magazine and endorsed by celebrity parents as well as Disneyfamily.com and Healthy Child Healthy World, which named organicKidz its first Trusted Partner in Canada. The bottles were also selected as a winner of the 2009 JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association) Innovation Awards. Dedicated to improving the quality of life for children, she is a founding member of the 10,000 Kids Project, created to help feed Calgary children to promote their success at school.

    Alumni Horizon Award

    Recognizing the outstanding achievements of University of Alberta alumni early in their careers

    Graham BuksaGraham Buksa, ’04 BSc(Eng), has applied his inventiveness and drive to building longboards that have revolutionized the sport of longboarding. Graham built his first board while still a student. After graduation, he founded Rayne Longboards in North Vancouver and won the 2004 Small Business B.C. Plan competition. He has grown Rayne to a business of 30 employees, developed a line of 11 board designs and branched out into ancillary products. He has made Rayne a global brand and built a team of racers that includes world champion Kevin Reimer. Graham approaches his designs scientifically and builds the boards in his own high-efficiency factory with support from the National Research Council.

    Punita ChohanPunita Chohan, ’08 Dip(Ed), has a gift for creativity and a talent for inspiring others. An award-winning artist, she is inspired by—and, in turn, inspires—women of many generations and backgrounds. As a cosmetology instructor at Edmonton’s M.E. LaZerte High School, she teaches her students to see the internal beauty of each person. She works with community groups—from hospitals and senior associations to the Cerebral Palsy Association in Alberta and the Women’s Emergency Accommodation Centre—as part of her lesson plans, providing students a greater appreciation for others. She has been recognized with the City of Edmonton Cultural Diversity in the Arts Award and was named a YWCA Woman of Distinction.

    Abdullah SalehAbdullah Saleh, ’10 MD, a general surgery resident, is the founder and executive director of ICChange, an Alberta-based organization that manages and supports international development projects. In 2006, while a medical student, he founded the Kenya Ceramic Project, providing ceramic water filters and high-efficiency stoves to rural Kenyans. In 2008, he founded a project to aid Burmese refugees and also spoke at a UN conference about his work to show how university students can lead development projects. The recipient of a Clinton Global Initiative University Commitment Award and Canadian Medical Association Resident Leader Award, he was also recently awarded the Grand Challenges Canada Rising Stars grant for the development of a medical records initiative for the slum of Kibera, Kenya.

    Shannon ScottShannon D. Scott, ’06 PhD, is one of few Canadian health-care researchers involved in the field of knowledge translation. An associate professor of nursing at the U of A, she has developed a program of research focused on understanding how research findings are transferred and used in child-health settings. She has published more than 60 papers in refereed journals and presented her work nationally and internationally. In 2011, she was given special recognition when she received the Monique Bégin Prize for Knowledge Translation from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. She recently received funding as one of the co-directors of a National Centres of Excellence group entitled TREKK (Translating Emergency Knowledge for Kids).

    Warren SerinkWarren Serink, ’00 BA, is an award-winning producer who has reported on breaking news from around the world. After leaving the U of A, he earned a graduate diploma in journalism and began a career in digital media, starting with an internship at the CBC bureau in London, England. In 2007, Warren became a producer at CBS News in New York. His assignments have taken him to Haiti and Chile after the 2010 earthquakes, the U.S. Gulf Coast during the BP oil spill, and Joplin, Missouri, following the deadly tornado. He has also had a front-row seat at events such as U.S. President Barack Obama’s inauguration, Michael Jackson’s funeral and Prince Harry’s royal tour of the Caribbean and Brazil.

    Dorothy ThunderDorothy Thunder, ’02 BA(Native Studies), is helping keep the Cree language alive through her dedication and hard work. Dorothy, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in linguistics with the goal of producing a corpus of the Cree language, is a highly regarded Cree language teacher who bridges the gap between academia and the community. Dorothy contributed to the team translating Father Émile Grouard’s 1883 Cree prayer book into modern Cree and English. That work resulted in the publication The Beginning of Print Culture in Athabasca Country, which was recently named Alberta’s scholarly book of the year. Having spent years creating a set of textbooks for Cree language classrooms, Dorothy is now developing an online version of her courses.

    Sports Wall of Fame

    Recognizing the contributions of alumni as athletes and builders of University sport

    Blake DermottBlake Dermott, ’84 BEd, is one of the most durable football players in Edmonton. As a Golden Bear, he started all 41 games during his career and was unanimously selected twice as a Canada West All-Star. As a student athlete, he won a gold medal at the 1982 CIS Wrestling Championships. In 1983, he began his 14-year career with the Edmonton Eskimos, starting in the second game and playing the next 187 in a row. Elected by fans to the Eskimos’ All-Century team, Blake played in five Grey Cup Games and was twice named a CFL Western Division All-Star. Since retiring from the Eskimos, he consistently gives back to Edmonton’s amateur football community as a coach and leader.

    Keltie DugganKeltie Duggan, ’94 BA, can look back on a distinguished career as a competitive swimmer. A member of Canada’s national team from 1987 until 1993, she won gold medals at the 1987 Pan American Games, the 1989 Pan Pacific Championships, and the 1990 Commonwealth Games. She was also a member of the Canadian Olympic Swim team in 1988. In 1989-90, she was named Swimming Canada’s athlete of the year. She was the U of A’s female Athlete of the Year in 1989-90 and earned five consecutive Academic All-Canadian honours. In 1994, Keltie began volunteering at the Alberta Children’s Hospital to further her goal of becoming a doctor. She graduated from the University of Calgary medical school in 2000.

    Gerald GlassfordR. Gerald Glassford, ’64 MA, has left an indelible mark on the evolution of the U of A Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation. Gerry came to the U of A in 1963 as a graduate student, having taught and coached at high schools in B.C. A year after he received his master’s degree, he was appointed as a faculty member in physical education and began helping coach the Golden Bears basketball team. As chair of the Department of Physical Education and dean of the faculty from 1981 to 1990, he served as a mentor to countless students, academic colleagues, University athletes and coaches. Gerry served on 57 University, provincial, national and international committees and chaired the conferences associated with both Universiade 1983 and the 1978 Commonwealth Games.

    Janine HellandJanine Helland, ’93 BPE, enjoyed a career as one of Canada’s most outstanding soccer players. With the Pandas, she was a four-time All-Canadian, the championship MVP when her team won the 1989 national championship and was named the winner of the Bakewell Trophy in 1992 as the U of A’s top female athlete. Beginning with the 1990-91 season, she played in 47 games over 10 seasons for the Canadian women’s soccer team, serving as captain. As a coach, Janine helped lead the Grant MacEwan Griffins to the collegiate national championships in 1994, where they placed fourth. Currently co-ordinator of community programs for KidSport Edmonton, she has also contributed to sport through executive director roles with Judo Alberta and Ringette Alberta.

    The Honourable Dr. Lois E. Hole Student Spirit Award

    Celebrates student spirit and the many contributions students make to the betterment of the University community and beyond

    Kristen PoonKirsten Poon, ’12 BSc, plans to pursue a career in primary care medicine and to advocate for preventive health care and healthier communities. She already has an impressive record of community service, including serving as chair of the City of Edmonton Youth Council for 2010-11. Kirsten is also a founding member and board director of a startup non-profit organization, Literacy Without Borders, which aims to help communities establish sustainable literacy programs by recruiting post-secondary students to travel to developing countries and share literacy models. Additionally, Kirsten has been active on the executive of the Rotaract Club of Edmonton, which is associated with Rotary International and promotes service to the community.

    Stephen LeeStephen Lee, a fourth-year medical student, has been very active in the community. In 2010-11, he helped lead the MD Ambassadors Committee, a group of students that represented the U of A medical school to high school and undergraduates. The goal was to connect with a greater diversity of prospective students. He also co-founded a program that brought medical students together with small groups of undergrads of diverse backgrounds. He founded and ran Students for Learning, a program that helped academically struggling elementary children in the community, pairing university mentors with individual children for an entire year. Stephen also served as webmaster for the Kenya Ceramic Project, which promotes the use of ceramic filters for access to healthy drinking water.