Campus Digest: President, five alumni among competition finalists

By Communications Staff
April 10, 2014

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Western President Amit Chakma, along with five Western alumni, have been named finalist for the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award for 2014.

The annual awards, given out by Canadian Immigrant Magazine, in partnership with RBC Royal Bank, since 2009, is the first Canadian national award program that recognizes immigrants’ achievements from all walks of life.

Chakma, who was born in Bangladesh and arrived in Canada in 1983, was chosen as one of 75 finalists from more than 630 nominees by a panel of judges, consisting of Canadian Immigrant Magazine editorial staff as well as immigrant and ethnic community leaders.

Among the Western alumni nominated are Farah Mohamed, MA’96; Towhid Noman, BSc’90; Alan Diner, BA ‘90; Dunstan Peter, BESc’05; and Dr. Surinder Khurana, DDS’06.

“The inspired stories of my fellow finalists are what make up the fabric of this great country and I am truly humbled to be honoured alongside them,” Chakma said. “We are all proud Canadians who are grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to make our lives in a society that celebrates diversity.”

Past RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant award winners include former Governor Generals Adrienne Clarkson and Michaelle Jean; filmmaker Deepa Mehta; CBC’s Ian Hanomansing; and NBA All-Star and philanthropist Steve Nash.

The Top 25 will be determined through online voting until May 15. Winners will be announced in June.

Vote at



Western graduate students Peter Szabo, Ankur Goswami and Courtney Meilleur, all of Microbiology & Immunology professor Mansour Haeryfar’s lab, scored success during the 2014 Canadian Society for Immunology (CSI) annual scientific meeting March 6-9 in Quebec City.

CSI meetings lets graduate students from all across Canada to present scientific findings arising from their thesis research either in the form of a podium talk or a poster that is judged for prizes by several independent immunologists from various universities.

Goswami and Meilleur won two of 12 awards in the poster competition, which featured more than 90 nationwide entries. Goswami won second place; Meilleur secured another poster award. The Western masters students were competing among a competitive field of mostly upper-year PhD students.

Szabo, a Ph.D. student, was selected to give a podium talk on his research.

“These students have brought pride to our university and department as well as my laboratory,” Haeryfar said.

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Effective June 1, Western will switch from BFI to the City of London’s Materials Recycling Facility – meaning we will be able to accept all plastics from 1-7 for recycling. Currently, Western only recycle plastics 1, 2, 4 and 5 on campus because that is all BFI can handle at their facility. London’s Materials Recycling Facility can sort through all plastics, with the exception of styrofoam and plastic bags. A couple examples of common items thrown away on campus that couldn’t be recycled, but will now be able to, are coffee cup lids and yogurt cups.

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Former Western alumni and Board of Governors chair, Don McDougall, has been installed as chancellor at the University of Prince Edward Island.

McDougall, MBA’61, will be responsible for conferring all certificates, diplomas, and degrees, and is also a member of the university’s Board of Governors. He was a member of the Western’s Board of Governors in 1998, assuming the role of chair from 2004-05.

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Western medical students Kevin Dueck, Julian Surujballi and Daniela Kwiatkowski earned third place honours for the team’s Vitals Student Wellness Initiative in the Council of Ontario Universities’ Mental Health 2.0 Student Competition. The competition encouraged undergraduate students to address mental health challenges through social media tools in the following categories: changing attitudes; awareness of signs and symptoms of mental illness; self-care and management; and community building.

Vitals is a student-run initiative to promote wellness in all years of undergraduate medical training by centralizing campus and community resources, hosting workshops and raising awareness to support students in all the dimensions of wellness.

Visit the site at

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Western Neuroscience graduate students and Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry medical students recently hosted the 6th annual London Brain Bee for the best and brightest high school students from London and surrounding areas. The event featured neuroscience skill-testing questions, hands-on demonstrations and a neuroanatomy scavenger hunt.

A highlight of the event was a trivia contest won by Brittany Smale, who will represent London in the National Brain Bee competition May 31 in Hamilton.

The Brain Bee is part of an international neuroscience initiative which aims to motivate students to learn about the brain and pursue neuroscience careers in order to help treat and find cures for neurological and psychological disorders.


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