Distinguished Mathematics & Science Alumni Award Recipients

Mathematics and Science

Distinguished Mathematics & Science Alumni Award Recipients

2014 Recipient - Dr. Gary Schrobilgen

Dr. Gary Schrobilgen (MSc ’71) has been an exceptional chemist since his days as a graduate student here at Brock, which is why his supervisor, Dr. J. Stephen Hartman, considered him more of a colleague than a student.  He saw first-hand Gary’s wide-ranging interest in all aspects of chemistry along with an obvious passion for research.

Dr. Schrobilgen has been a full professor at McMaster University since 1988 and he is recognized as one of the world’s top fluorine chemists. He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the American Chemical Society.  He has won numerous scientific awards in recognition of the significant impact that his work has had on the field of fundamental inorganic fluorine chemistry.  These awards include the E. W. R. Steacie Award, the American Chemical Society Award for Creative Work in Fluorine Chemistry, and the Humboldt Research Award.

His research focuses on inorganic fluorine compounds, which are necessary for things like nuclear power generation, semiconductor materials and advanced optics, and many of his compounds are now textbook examples.   Gary has also developed innovative approaches to difficult synthetic problems involving air-sensitive and/or thermally unstable species.

In addition to being recognized as an exceptional researcher Dr. Schrobilgen must also be recognized for his enthusiasm for teaching chemistry and his commitment to academic mentoring.  For decades he has worked alongside students, from high school through to post-doctoral studies, with a very hands-on approach and we are delighted to have many of them joining us as we recognize him today.

As one of the university’s first graduate students in Brock’s first M.Sc. program, Dr. Gary Schrobilgen is a wonderful example of how our students go out and leave their mark on the world of science and the Faculty is proud to present him with the 2014 Distinguished Mathematics & Science Alumni Award, in this Brock’s 50th anniversary year.


2013 Recipient - Dr. John Smol

Dr. John P. Smol is a globally recognized expert in the field of Arctic limnology and paleolimnology.  He is a professor at Queen’s University and holds the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change. He also founded and co-directs the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory at Queen’s.

Dr. Smol is considered to be the world’s leader in developing biological indicators for studying long-term environmental change in lakes.  His Killam citation read in part “His ground-breaking research on lake acidification, climate change, and land use change, has permanently altered views regarding the extent to which human activities affect the natural environment, and prompted key public policy and program development worldwide.”

Career highlights include: being elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1996; in 2004 being awarded, Canada’s biggest scientific research prize, the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Gerhard Herzberg Gold Medal; receiving a Killam Prize in the field of natural sciences, by the Canada Council for the Arts, in 2009 and in 2013 he was elected an Officer of the Order of Canada.

After graduating from Brock, Smol went on to earn his Ph.D., from Queen’s University, and following post-doctoral work in the High Arctic with the Geological Survey of Canada he became a faculty member at Queen’s University in 1984.  He was awarded the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change in 2000 and it has been renewed through till 2014.


2010 Recipient - Andrew Panko

The Faculty is pleased to recognize Dr. Andrew Panko for both his professional accomplishments and his years of service to both Brock University and the Niagara community. 

Andy Panko became part of the Brock community in 1971, when he entered the Grade 12 program and over the years he has continued to actively support the University.  In addition earning his Honours B.Sc. in Geological Science in 1975 he has also served nine years on Brock’s Board of Trustees (he is currently a Trustee Emeritus), eight years on the Brock University Alumni Association, has been an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth Sciences.  Dr. Panko is also the proud recipient of the 2004 Brock University Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award.

He is also a successful entrepreneur and active in the Niagara community. His company Associated Brownfields purchases, remediates and develops post-industrial lands across Niagara and beyond.  He is also an active community volunteer and currently sits on the Board of Directors for the St. Catharines-Thorold Chamber of Commerce and Meridian Credit Union. 

His personal interests include his model train collection and railway history in particular.  Andy also farms 15 acres of grapes just outside of St. David’s where he resides with his wife Domenica (BA ‘75) and their two children Sarah and Alex.



2009 Recipient - Karl Kaiser

Karl Kaiser is a Canadian wine legend. He immigrated to Canada with his wife Sylvia in 1969 and soon after enrolled at Brock. While studying chemistry and biochemistry Karl put his Austrian wine-making experience to use by growing grapes and making wine at home. He went on to receive his B.Sc. in 1974 (and an Honorary Doctorate in ’94). In 1975 Karl and Donald Ziraldo teamed up and established Inniskillin Winery, after obtaining the first winery license granted since1929. For decades Karl produced a broad range of high quality, award-winning, table wines that established Inniskillin as the Canadian leader. He turned his attention to creating icewine in 1984. Now, 25 years later, icewine has become a global icon for Canada and Karl is recognized as the icewine master. Karl’s background in chemistry and biology, coupled with his profound understanding of the grape and wine industry, made him a crucial player in the development of the Vintner’s Quality Alliance (VQA), which provides quality benchmarks for Canadian wines. It goes without saying that the current success of Canada’s wines and Niagara’s tourism industry grew directly from the founding of Inniskillin in 1975. Karl has received numerous awards that recognize his contributions. They include the the Order of Ontario, the Queen’s 50th anniversary Golden Jubilee Award, the Tony Aspler Award of Excellence, and the first ever Ontario Wine Society Lifetime Achievement Award. Here at Brock Karl has been a proud alumnus and a strong supporter of the University’s Cool Climate Oenology & Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) since its inception. He has assisted in extensive research collaborations on Icewine production, lectured to students, and is currently a CCOVI Professional Affiliate. He is actively involved with the development of CCOVI’s strategic plan and its wine analytical services laboratory.

2008 Recipient - John Suk

John Suk of St. Catharines earned his B.Sc. (honours) in biological sciences in 1973. The following year he began what has become an exceptional career within the pharmaceutical industry, continually working to improve the quality of life/medical health of all Canadians and greatly influencing the industry in Canada. In 1997 he established a Canadian office for a German-based drug company, out of his basement. Today that company is Oakville based Nycomed Canada and has over 265 employees. Under John’s leadership, as President and CEO, it has for four consecutive years been named ‘Top 100 Employer’ in Canada by Maclean’s and this year The Great Place to Work Institute ranked them third on their list of ‘Best workplaces in Canada’ which speaks to John’s focus on employees and customers. Contributing to the local and broader community is also important to John and Nycomed Canada. They support education, the arts, community hospital libraries as well as organizations such as the Oakville YMCA and the United Way. John is also involved with many healthcare, scientific, academic and community partnerships for improving the overall health of Canadians. He also serves as a member of Brock’s Board of Trustees.