Alumni of Distinction Awards recipients from 2012

Alumni of Distinction Awards recipients from 2012


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During the 2011-12 school year, the Brock University Alumni Association (BUAA) is celebrating its 35th anniversary of incorporation.

As a special tribute to mark the occasion, the BUAA honoured thirty-five graduates at an awards gala at Amici’s Banquet Centre in Thorold on March 31, 2012.

This distinguished group of alumni exemplify the spirit of Brock through their scholarly, creative, humanitarian and professional contributions to Canada and beyond.

The MC for the evening was Rick Campanelli (BPhEd ‘94), co-host of ET Canada, and one of Canada’s most recognizable TV personalities. Campanelli is also a recipient of a 30 From the Past 30 Award - the original name for the Alumni of Distinction Awards when the BUAA celebrated its 30th anniversary in the 2006-07 school year.

Video coverage from the gala can be seen embedded below. A YouTube Playlist featuring interviews with award recipients and our MC can be watched here. A photo album from the event can be viewed here.

For a complete list of award recipients, including individual photos and bios, see below.

 

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Christopher Armstrong (BSM ’05)

Vice-president, Wasserman Media Group
Sport drives his professional career and his philanthropy.

Sport Management, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences

Since his graduation from Brock, Chris Armstrong has rocketed to success in his chosen career. He’s vice-president and director of the L.A.-based Wasserman Media Group Canadian Practice, where he manages global sports and entertainment accounts. National newspapers have recognized him for his contribution to sport management. His philanthropic efforts stretch beyond Canada’s borders. Armstrong sits on the board of the Stephen Ames Foundation, which helps young people in both Canada and Trinidad and Tobago develop skills and confidence through golf. He has also conducted sports clinics in Israel, using sport to develop leadership and communications skills of Palestinian and Israeli children in areas of conflict.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Kathryn Belicki (BA '76)

Professor, Psychology, Brock University
As committed to her students as she is to her research.

Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences

Kathryn Belicki is paying it forward. As a top-flight graduate of Brock’s Psychology Department in 1976, she now mentors and guides a new generation of psychology students as a full professor in the program from which she graduated. In addition to her commitment to students, Belicki is a leading expert in the study of forgiveness and reconciliation. She has also been internationally recognized for her research into dreams and nightmares. Belicki enriches the local and global communities with her skills. For example, in 2009 she was a member of a multi-disciplinary health-care team in Iraq.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Gary Blazak (BA '76)

Registered professional planner
Committed to professional planning, institutional advancement and coaching.

Geography, Faculty of Social Sciences

Gary Blazak’s professional career has taken a detour back to a university. He began his professional career in urban and regional planning. Since 2002, he has served as the executive director of the Alumni Relations Department at the University of Western Ontario where he developed programs and initiatives for Western’s 260,000 graduates. In 2008, the London Chamber of Commerce presented Blazak and his team a Quality Award, the first non-profit organization to receive the distinction. In 2011, Blazak volunteered his time coaching hockey and interacting with the children of Iqaluit, Nunavut. He also has served on a number of boards in London.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Rick Bonner (BSc '84)

President and CEO, Guinea Iron Ore Ltd.
Striking gold in both varsity fencing and mining companies.

Geology, Faculty of Mathematics and Science

Rick Bonner is a recognized leader and top executive in his field of geology. His 30-year career has taken him around the globe. As an independent director on several companies, his professional contributions include work on numerous projects for both major and junior mining companies in the areas of base metals, gold, diamonds and uranium. Bonner also holds memberships in several professional organizations. During his studies at Brock, Bonner was a member of the varsity fencing team, taking the Ontario University Athletics gold meal in épée in 1983. His other interests include South African fine wine and road cycling.

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Jeff Chesebrough (BA '98)

CEO, nGen - Niagara Interactive Media Generator
Helping to guide Niagara to a new knowledge economy.

Environmental Economics, Faculty of Social Sciences

Jeff Chesebrough is one of the persons leading Niagara to a new knowledge economy. In 2008, he was named CEO of nGen (Niagara Interactive Media Generator), which is committed to developing and growing the interactive digital media industry in Niagara. In 2010, Chesebrough led a team that brought the first-ever Regional Innovation Centre to Niagara, expanding nGen’s mandate to include the support and development of companies and entrepreneurs in Niagara’s other emerging industry clusters. Chesebrough is also an active member and former president of the St. Catharines Jaycees and was named St. Catharines Jaycee of the Year in 2008 and 2011 and a JCI senator in 2011.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Jens Coorssen (BSc '86, MSc '89)

Foundation professor of molecular physiology / Head, Molecular Medicine Research Group, University of Western Sydney
Researching ways to improve human health.

Biological Sciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Science

Jens Coorssen has established himself internationally as a highly respected and distinguished researcher. His scientific investigations have spanned many subjects, including cell physiology, electrophysiology, proteomics and lipidomics. The work has an impact in a wide range of health concerns, including injuries to the spinal cord and central nervous system, seizure disorders, memory/cognitive deficiencies and pre-term labour. In 2008, Coorssen was appointed foundation professor of Molecular Physiology, a new department in the School of Medicine at the University of Western Sydney (Australia). He has won many international awards for his research and credits Brock for contributing to his success.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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David Dargie (BA '68)

Director of tournament development, Evolution Golf and Event Management Inc.
A lifelong learner and a lifelong doer.

English Language and Literature, Faculty of Humanities

David Dargie is a lifelong learner and a lifelong doer. He spent more than 30 years of his professional life working as a teacher, department head, vice-principal and principal, and countless hours coaching various championship sports teams. In 1998, Dargie was the principal of the first secondary school in Ontario to have a laptop classroom, an initiative that gained international attention. Dargie co-founded the first and second chapters of Students Against Drink Driving in Canada, has helped to organize an annual telethon for animal welfare, and brought both the Ontario and Canadian 55+ Games to Brockville, Ont., which showcased the importance of healthy living in older years.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>
 

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Anand Daté (BBA ‘96)

President and founder, Ronin Group
Finding balance with HR firm and Brock alumni connections.

Business Administration, Faculty of Business

Anand Daté is president of Ronin Group in Toronto that delivers recruitment, resource acquisition and recruitment processing outsourcing to some of Canada’s largest organizations in a broad diversity of sectors, including engineering, IT, financial, insurance, telecom and management consulting. Some of the contracts have included Capgemini, Sun Microsystems, Flextrack, Huskey Injection Molding Systems, BMO Financial Group, Telus Communications and others. Daté has also maintained ties with Brock University, initiating a high-end golf tournament to raise funds for Faculty of Business student clubs and scholarships. He was a founding member of the Brock Business Alumni Network and speaks to students at the Make the Connection event.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Lesley de Repentigny (Corbett) (BA ’83)

President and founder, Drivewise
Making our skies and roads safer for us all.

History and Political Science, Faculty of Humanities

Lesley de Repentigny has made our roads and skies safer. As an air traffic controller and officer in the Canadian Armed Forces, she saw the value of using virtual reality simulation training for air traffic controllers, and launched Adacel, Inc. Her clients included NASA, the FAA, Nav Canada and others. In 2005, she and her husband founded KnowledgeSurge Learning Solutions, operating under the name DriveWise. Using virtual reality simulation, DriveWise helped to teach the proper response to dangerous driving situations. In 2011, de Repentigny and her husband founded TSSonDemand, which builds on the training capabilities used by DriveWise. She has garnered many awards for her entrepreneurial initiatives.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Stephen Dominick (BA ’82)

Professor/program co-ordinator, digital photography program, School of Media Studies, Niagara College
Taking digital photography from the studio to the classroom.

Business, Faculty of Social Sciences

Stephen Dominick is rarely seen without a camera. The well-known and respected photographer has advanced with the times, and as a result helped to initiate a new Digital Photography program at Niagara College’s School of Media Studies. For every student accepted into the program, there are 10 applicants. Dominick opened his first studio in 1982. He has a passion for black-and-white portraiture, photographing some of some of Niagara’s most notable individuals. High-profile weddings are also included in his portfolio. Commercial clients include local wineries, hotels and print media outlets. He was also a part of Brock University’s award-winning Both Sides of the Brain campaign.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Peter Goodspeed (BA ’74)

Senior reporter, international affairs, National Post
Reporting international stories that define and inform our lives.

Politics, Faculty of Social Sciences

Peter Goodspeed is an award-winning journalist with almost four decades of experience. He has worked as a foreign correspondent, war reporter, editor, manager, feature writer and political reporter. Goodspeed is currently the senior reporter, international affairs for the National Post. He has reported from 63 countries and covered 22 conflicts, often at great danger to himself. In 2000, he won a National Newspaper Award. He’s also received the prestigious Southam Journalism Fellowship and the Dateline Hong Kong Fellowship. While working for the Toronto Star, he was posted in Hong Kong, Johannesburg and Washington, D.C. as bureau chief.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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David Grimes (BSc ’75)

President, World Meteorological Organization
Shaping climate-related research and services as the world’s weatherman.

Physics and Mathematics, Faculty of Mathematics and Science 

David Grimes is the world’s weatherman. In June 2011, he was elected president of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) by the Sixteenth World Meteorological Congress, the first Canadian to serve as president in the 61-year-old organization. As president of WMO, he’ll help to shape research and services related to weather, climate and water. Grimes has more than 20 years of international meteorological affiliation. He began his career with Environment Canada 37 years ago, and since 2006, he’s been the assistant deputy minister of Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service of Canada. His Brock degree in mathematics and quantum physics provided the foundation for his work in meteorology.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Sam Hammond (BEd ’87)

President, Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario
Tackling important social and workplace issues in our schools.

Pre-service Education (Primary/Junior), Faculty of Education

Sam Hammond is serving his second term as president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, the largest teacher federation in Canada. The physical education and health specialist has taught all grade levels from junior kindergarten to Grade 8. During Hammond’s presidency, the ETFO has tackled issues that include the following: creating safe workplaces free from homophobia and creating outreach strategies with LGBTQI organizations; conducting an online survey on incidents of workplace violence; supporting Aboriginal communities; and creating the development of an updated strategic position paper on the issue of student assessment. Hammond is also a political and social activist.

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Len Hong (BSc ’73)

Former president and CEO, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Sharing occupational health and safety resources with others.

Biological Sciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Science

Occupational health and safety has been central to the professional life of Len Hong. In the early ‘90s, information about OHS was available in libraries, research centres and private holdings, but not online and accessible to a larger audience. As president and CEO of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), Hong championed the provision of products and services to the OHS community through the use of technology. CCOHS developed the leading OHS website in the world, and Canada became a global leader of useful OHS information, sharing its information and strategies with other nations and with individuals.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Albert Iannantuono (BA ’85)

President, CEO and founder, Tri-Media
Taking pride in Niagara and encouraging others to do the same.

Business, Faculty of Social Sciences

Albert Iannantuono is the CEO/president/founder of a global integrated marketing and communication firm (with offices in Toronto, Baltimore and Minsk), and he’s committed to keeping his headquarters in Niagara. He encourages other business leaders to do the same. Tri-Media Integrated Marketing Technologies has high-profile clients as diverse as the Discovery Channel, AOL, Google-YouTube, Parks Canada, and others. Iannantuono has used his business acumen to spearhead a range of civic and philanthropic campaigns to showcase and increase pride and business in Niagara. He was one of the founders of the Niagara Social Project and has received many awards for his community support.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Wendy Ingram (Bowman) (BA ’67)

Board of directors, Canada Art Foundation
From classroom to gallery, publishing and non-profit organizations.

English Language and Literature, Faculty of Humanities

Wendy Ingram began her professional career as a classroom teacher, and then took a sharp detour into art. One of Brock’s earliest graduates, she taught for a few years and then switched careers, eventually becoming a gallery co-owner and publisher of Canadian Art magazine. After retiring from the magazine in 2010, Ingram became a member of the board of directors of the Canadian Art Foundation. She has also dedicated much of her volunteer time to Environmental Defence, a non-profit organization committed to greening and sustainability, and to Women for Woman International, a non-profit that supports women in emerging nations. She also sponsors a child in Chad.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Michael Kompf (BA ’82, MEd ’83)

Professor, Faculty of Education, Brock University
Creating innovative programs for future teachers.

Education, Faculty of Education

Michael Kompf has been a member of Brock’s Faculty of Education for 25 years and in that time he has achieved several honours, supervised more than 250 graduate students, and contributed significantly to many innovative programs. Two of his programs in particular continue to flourish: the Adult Education BEd program and the Aboriginal BEd program. He also created an Additional Qualification Course for certified educators interested in teaching Aboriginal children and a developmental technique called LifeMapping. From 1999-2003, Kompf served as director of Brock’s Adult and Distance Learning Centre. He also has served on international organizations dedicated to educational research.

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Derek Kontkanen (BSc ’01, MSc ‘05)

Winemaker, Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Winery
Uncorking international honours for a British Columbia winery.

Biological Sciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Science

Derek Kontkanen has made his mark on the Canadian wine scene since graduating from Brock in the oenology and viticulture program. He’s currently the winemaker at Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate in British Columbia. The International Wine and Spirits Competition in London, England gave him the award for the World’s Best Dessert Wine trophy in 2010 for his Proprietor’s Grand Reserve Riesling Icewine 2007. In 2011, he repeated the win with his Proprietor’s Reserve Riesling Icewine 2007. He has also won many other awards and has been published in several journals. Kontkanen also teaches Introduction to Winemaking at Okanagan College in Penticton, B.C.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Christopher Le Conte (BRLS ’97)

President and owner, SMART Watering Systems
Protecting our most precious resource, drop by drop.

Recreation and Leisure, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences

Christopher Le Conte protects our most precious resource— water — drop by drop. He founded Smart Watering Systems in 2006-07, believing that if drinking water is used on lawns, it should be done efficiently. What started in the home office in the basement of his house developed into a head office in Milton, Ont., and a satellite office in B.C. His company, which has won awards for water efficiency, uses best practices, weather-based technology and education as ways to conserve water. Le Conte’s business focuses on programs, outdoor water audits, installation of efficient irrigation systems and water-use measurement.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Paul Lejkowski (BKin ’03)

Owner and fitness and nutrition specialist, Sport Balance and Nutrition
Building bodies, building confidence and building a business.

Kinesiology, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences

Paul Lejkowski is an award-winning body builder whose passion is building other bodies to be at their optimum. After graduating from Brock, he earned additional qualifications in personal training, physiotherapy and advanced nutrition, and rather than head to the classroom or clinic, he chose another route. Armed with his considerable knowledge, including biomechanics, he founded Sport Balance and Nutrition in Burlington, an integrated service that includes thousands of clients who he guides to healthier, more active lives. Nutrition guidelines, resistance and strength training and mentoring are tailored to clients. Lejkowski has worked with many athletes, doctors and specialists in the course of his professional life.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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David Leip (BSc ’90)

Senior technical staff member, head of web innovation, IBM
He’s as impressive on the dance floor as he is in the world of technology.

Computer Science, Faculty of Mathematics and Science

David Leip is as comfortable in front of a computer screen as he is on the dance floor. The head of IBM Web Innovation and the Centre for Advanced Studies for the IBM HQ Region is also a first-place medallist in the silver division of ballroom dancing. He is a member of the advisory board of the World Organization of Webmasters, which supports professionals, students and educators. Leip is the primary inventor on a U.S. patent and he has been published several times. He has spoken at many international conferences and has been interviewed by various news organizations around the world.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Scott McRoberts (BSM '02)

Director of Athletics and Recreation, University of Toronto-Scarborough Transferring his expertise in sport management to the University of Toronto.

Sport Management, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences

Scott McRoberts is director of Athletics and Recreation at the Scarborough campus of the University of Toronto. His responsibilities include oversight of the development and delivery of all physical education, athletic and recreations programs; strategic partnerships and external relations; and short-term and long-term planning. McRoberts is an annual guest speaker in Brock's Sport Management courses, and he's set up valuable internships for Sport Management students. He also has taught Sport Management courses at Brock. McRoberts gained international experience by travelling to Austria to co-teach a graduate course in sport faculty and event environmental sustainability.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Ben Munoz (BSc ’85, MSc’87)

Director of medicinal chemistry
Taking pharmaceutical aim at malaria and other diseases.

Chemistry, Faculty of Mathematics and Science

Ben Munoz is a medicinal chemist with more than 15 years of drug discovery experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. His current position is director, Medicinal Chemistry, Molecular Libraries Probe Production Centers Network and Infectious Disease Initiative Malaria Program at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He was project lead for Alzheimer’s disease efforts, which expanded into directing the medicinal chemistry effort for stroke and multiple sclerosis drug discovery platforms. Malaria is now a focus of his work. Munoz holds more than 30 patents and has authored more than 40 articles in major science journals. He also sits on several scientific advisory boards.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Guy Narbonne (BSc ‘75)

Professor, Geological Sciences, Queen’s University
Discovering the history of life on Earth through geological science.

Geology, Faculty of Mathematics and Science

Guy Narbonne is a rock star. His career in geological science and research has taken him from the Niagara Escarpment to the Canadian Arctic, Anticosti Island and the Rocky Mountains. He has worked on ancient rocks in Namibia, Australia and Newfoundland in search of answers to some of the most fundamental questions surrounding the evolution of complex life on Earth. Narbonne currently holds the Research Chair in Paleontology at Queen’s University. One of his greatest joys is to teach students about the history of life on Earth. He’s received many awards and honours for his work, including induction into the prestigious Royal Society of Canada.

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Patricia Pokorny (BA '95)

Senior manager accessibility, Legal Department, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.
Removing barriers to accessibility at Ontario Lottery Gaming.

In-service Education, Faculty of Education

Patricia Pokorny has a visual disability and knows from personal experience how difficult it is for persons with disabilities to negotiate physical barriers and noisy distractions. Because of this awareness, she successfully created her own position as Special Needs Co-ordinator at Casino Niagara, long before the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act was considered. Today, Pokorny is the senior manager of Accessibility at Ontario Lottery Gaming, a Crown corporation with five casinos, 33 gambling sites, two corporate offices and about 10,000 employees. She educates OLG staff about the needs of Ontarians with disabilities, and reports directly to the top tiers of the Ontario government.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Rob Power (BSc '00)

Winemaker, Creekside Estates Winery
Creating “serious wine” and winning some serious honours.

Oenology and Viticulture, Faculty of Mathematics and Science

Rob Power is the head winemaker at Creekside Estate Winery, where the mantra is "serious wine from an irreverent bunch." Under Power's stewardship, Creekside gained national and international acclaim for sauvignon blanc and shiraz, two varieties that were relatively uncommon to Niagara at the time. Power's wines have won international gold medals in France and England for the past five years and he was one of the youngest winemakers to receive Tony Aspler's award Winemaker of the Year at the Ontario Wine Awards in 2008. Closer to home, Creekside wines have been top winners at the annual Cuvée Wine Awards for four consecutive years.

 

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Elaine Raakman (BSM ’03)

Owner, Justplay Sports Services Civic Sport Group
Passionate about good sportsmanship and acts of kindness.

Sport Management, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences

Always passionate about the health and fitness of children and youth, Elaine Raakman founded Justplay Sports Services and Civic Sport Group in 2007. Her focus is to ensure that the environments in sport promote sportsmanship, reduce violence and build supportive, encouraging cultures. Raakman has carried forward her belief in civic kindness through her non-profit organization based on a bracelet called Dakbands. The bracelets have ID codes and are tied to GIS mapping, If a person wearing a bracelet observes an act of kindness, the bracelet is given to the new person. Raakman is also currently completing her MSc at a Canadian university.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Steven Sal Debus (BA ’94)

Founder and director, Modrobes Inc.
His eco-friendly utility clothing line even impressed some dragons.

Business, Faculty of Social Sciences

Steven Sal Debus went from selling pants out of the back of his car to building an impressive business that impressed some dragons. His early “exam pants” have evolved into an eco-friendly utility clothing line called Modrobes Sustainable Garment Shop. He made a successful pitch in 2009 to the dragons on the CBC show Dragon’s Den, securing $200,000 for a 25 per cent stake in the company to prop up the business after the economy nosedived. Sal Debus has received several awards for his eco-friendly line, including Canada’s Hottest Start Up 100 list and the 2011 Toronto Green Business award.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Kirsty Salmon (MSc ’94)

Head of research, BP Biofuels
On the leading edge of producing bioethanol fuel from waste products.

Biological Sciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Science

Kirsty Salmon is head of research for BP Biofuels at the Global Technology Center in San Diego, Calif. Her professional dream is to be able to produce bioethanol from renewable non-food biomass. She received her doctorate from McGill University and during her career she has managed and supervised research associates, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. An outstanding role model for young women who are considering a career in science, Salmon was the plenary speaker at Brock’s Scientifically Yours program for girls in Grade 12. A well-rounded individual, Salmon was inducted into the Badger Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009 to recognize her achievements in competitive swimming.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Barry Shelp (MSc ’77)

Professor, Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph
Researching production of our major crop plants and their stressors.

Biological Sciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Science

If Barry Shelp had to compare apples and oranges, he’d go into way more detail than most people. The plant scientist and entrepreneur teaches and performs his research in the Department of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph. His scientific expertise covers a broad range, including production of major crop plants with an improved ability to tolerate pests and environmental stresses, and managing physiological disorders of tree fruits stored under controlled atmosphere conditions. He’s also been an important player in the creation of a university spinoff company that applies technology to the treatment of wastewater and drinking water contaminated by metals or nutrients associated with various industries.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Fraser Smith (BBA ’92)

Manager, product management, PayPal
Proving that a Canadian education has its place in Silicon Valley.

Business Administration, Faculty of Business

Fraser Smith’s success proved his point. After completing his undergraduate degree at Brock and his MBA at Carleton University in Ottawa, Smith wanted to prove that a Canadian education could stand up to the best in Silicon Valley. More than 10 years later, he’s still in California, currently working as manager of product management at PayPal. He has developed and managed teams to drive results and shareholder value and his specialties include product management and marketing, competitive analysis, new ventures, web services, risk/fraud management and others. Smith’s career has also taken him to eBay, VeriSign, Wausau Financial Systems, Pagoo Inc. and others.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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John Smol (MSc ’79)

Professor, Queen’s University, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change
Unravelling the causes of climate change through paleolimnology.

Biological Sciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Science

John P. Smol is a professor at Queen’s University where he’s held the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change since 2000. He also co-directs the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory at Queen’s. Smol is globally recognized as an expert in the field of paleolimnology – the study of sedimentary/fossil record of lakes — and has significantly contributed to unravelling the causes of climatic and other environmental changes. Since 1990, he has received more than 40 national and international research and teaching awards and fellowships, including Canada’s top teaching award, the 3M National Teaching Fellowship in 2009. He has edited and authored 19 books.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Edward Spera (BA ’93)

Wildlife artist
Capturing images of our world’s wildlife with paint.

Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences

A doodle on a napkin launched Edward Spera’s career as one of Canada’s best-known wildlife artists. In the last 18 yeas, he’s created more than 350 works of original art, the first an acrylic painting of a wolf. His encounters with wildlife have been memorable. He found himself in a group of 33 mountain gorillas, was 20 feet away from a Bengal tiger in India, spotted four rare snow leopards in the Himalayas, and was in a diving cage as a great white shark bit and shook the cage. Not surprisingly, Spera’s helped to fund rehabilitation and conservation efforts in North American and internationally.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Andrew Tinnish (BRLS ’99, BSM ’01)

Director, amateur scouting, Toronto Blue Jays
Scouting for the next big phenom for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Sport Management, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences

Andrew Tinnish is the director of amateur scouting for the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Club where he manages a staff of 40. His involvement with baseball is a natural extension of his Brock experience on the varsity baseball team as a first baseman and outfielder. He was the first captain and the first superstar that the baseball team had, and in 1999-2000, he was named Brock University Male Athlete of the Year. During Tinnish’s academic career at Brock, the student-athlete and his team won the CIBA national championship twice. After leaving Brock, he played professionally with the Quebec Capitales, Northern League.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>

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Lydia Tomek (BSc ’04)

Winemaker, Hernder Estates Winery
Giving back to her community one sip at a time.

Oenology and Viticulture, Faculty of Mathematics and Science

Lydia Tomek gives back to her community as a cancer fundraiser through her position as chief winemaker for Hernder and Harvest Estate Winery. In 2007, she created a rosé wine called Pink to raise money and awareness of breast cancer in Niagara. The wine won two medals in Canadian wine competitions and was the push behind the creation of the Hernder-Picasso (HP) Foundation. In 2008, an award-winning sparkling Riesling called Blue honoured those affected by prostate cancer. In 2009, It’s Our Time Red was launched to support the Walker Cancer Centre in Niagara. Tomek remains involved with CCOVI through wine tastings, fundraisers, speaking and mentoring.

VIDEO INTERVIEW >>