Solid Gold

Evan Antoniuk and Lisa Shulman rise to the top of the chemistry class.

Jennifer Pascoe - 25 June 2015

In a crowning achievement in recognition of years of dedicated work, new chemistry grads Evan Antoniuk and Lisa Shulman have been named the 2015 recipients of the Gold Medal in Chemistry, the highest honour achievable by an honors or specialization student in chemistry. "I found out the morning of convocation," says Evan, who just completed his specialization degree. "It was a really nice graduation surprise."

The medals themselves are an ounce of solid gold engraved with the recipient's name and University of Alberta crest. Awarded solely on GPA, the gold medals are awarded to the graduating student-or in this year's case, students-with the highest average over their course of study., "This year's results were too close to narrow down to just one student," says the Department of Chemistry Chair Jed Harrison. "It has been six years since we awarded two medals in one year."

24 carat payoff

"One of the greatest feelings is when your hard work pays off," notes Shulman, who graduated with an honors degree in chemistry and had her first research paper published in June of 2015. Speaking as much of her undergraduate journey as her experimental lab work, she says "You face so much strife along the way-and then it just works."

Shulman will be returning to the U of A this fall to complete an after degree in mathematics and statistics, an interest that developed during the course of her studies. Her advice for incoming students is simple: "Try multiple fields. You never know what you might discover along the way."

Both Antoniuk and Shulman note the opportunity to pursue research with various faculty members as the experiences that left the biggest impression on their studies. Between the two of them, they worked in seven different research labs, setting them up for future success in their chosen endeavors.

A golden opportunity

With success seeming to run in his veins, Antoniuk, whose older brother received the University of Alberta civil engineering gold medal in 2013, is headed to Stanford University in the fall to pursue a PhD in chemistry.

At a recent celebratory lunch, Harrison shared this advice with Antoniuk and Shulman and any students pursuing further education: "Make a point of building a network with your graduate colleagues." Harrison, who completed his graduate studies at MIT, frequently calls on these connections himself. "This network has been really important throughout my career. Take advantage of the opportunity to make and keep these relationships."