Governor General taps trio for top PhD honours

For more than 140 years, the Governor General’s Academic Medals have recognized the outstanding scholastic achievements of students in Canada. Based solely on academic criteria, there is no monetary award associated with the medal. The Gold Medals will be presented at Western’s Autumn Convocation ceremony for graduates of the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Three Western graduate students received Gold Medals, including:

Stephanie Barbon
PhD, Chemistry-Inorganic 

Stephanie Barbon completed her doctoral degree in Chemistry in June with an average of 92.5 per cent. Throughout her graduate studies, she was awarded the most prestigious of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) scholarships and fellowships, including two Canada Graduate Scholarships at both the Master’s and PhD levels. She recently won an NSERC Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship to work with one of the top materials scientists in the world, professor Craig Hawker at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Barbon has been a pioneer in the development of multifunctional boron difluoride complexes of formazanate ligands, an intriguing new class of molecular materials.

Zeinab McHeimech
PhD, English Studies

Zeinab McHeimech electrified the members of her thesis committee this past summer, who all unanimously agreed that her dissertation, Islam’s Low Mutterings at High Tide: Enslaved African Muslims in American Literature, was the best they had seen in their collective years in the profession. They noted her extraordinarily timely, erudite and original research will transform the fields of Arab American and African diasporic studies, as well as American literary history. McHeimech was the recipient of an Ontario Graduate Scholarship, a Canada Graduate Scholarship and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellowship. She is currently a professor of writing and communications at Fanshawe College in London.

Evan Pebesma
MA, Theory and Criticism 

Evan Pebesma was a recipient of both the Canada Graduate Scholarship and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship. He completed his Master’s Degree at the Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism this year with an overall average of 91 per cent. Members of his committee said his thesis, Laughing Doubles: The Duality of Humour, makes a substantial contribution to scholarship on one of theory’s most significant, difficult and enigmatic thinkers – Gilles DeLeuze. Pebesma performed so well over the last two years that he attracted the attention of renowned critical theorists at one of the top universities in the United States. He recently started his PhD in the prestigious literary program at Duke University.