Three Western graduates are among the recipients of this year’s Governor General’s Academic Medals, announced recently. Since 1873, the awards have recognized outstanding students across Canada.
Western PhD graduates Mariyan Jeyarajah, Dimitrios Manias and Katie Shillington have received the Gold Medal, awarded for academic excellence at the graduate level.
Mariyan Jeyarajah, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry
Mariyan Jeyarajah received his doctorate in January this year. His thesis was focused on uncovering novel regulators of the fate of placental stem cells.
The placenta facilitates nutrient and gas exchange between mother’s and baby’s blood during pregnancy. When it does not work properly, serious pregnancy complications can arise that jeopardize maternal and child health. Jeyarajah’s research has high clinical significance for women’s and children’s health.
Jeyarajah’s work with Stephen Renaud of the department of anatomy and cell biology was supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship.
During his PhD research, he published 12 articles in peer-reviewed journals, and was a strong advocate for science communication and outreach activities.
Dimitrios Manias, Faculty of Engineering
Dimitrios Manias received his PhD in June this year. His thesis explored methods to make future networks more reliable by improving the process of managing them and setting up devices, applications and services in the networks.
Manias leveraged the latest advancements in the field of AI and operations research and applied them to the management practices of 5G core networks and autonomous vehicular networks.
His thesis work, supervised by professor Abdallah Shami of the department of electrical and computer engineering, was widely accepted in the scientific community with 20 peer-reviewed publications in top-tier journals and international conferences.
Katie Shillington, Faculty of Health Sciences
Katie Shillington received her PhD in July this year. She was the recipient of a national fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, which funded her work with School of Health Studies professor Jennifer Irwin. The research explored Ontario adults’ mental health, wellbeing and prosocial behaviour during the first 16 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This research was a part of a large-scale, longitudinal, mixed-methods study including over 2,000 participants aged 30-59, the age group most at risk for losing years of healthy life due to chronic disease. Findings from Shillington’s work underscore the significance of prosocial behaviour as a critical coping mechanism during a health crisis.
During her graduate studies, Shillington published 17 articles in peer-reviewed journals, contributed to 22 conference presentations, and gave 6 invited research presentations, one of which was an international presentation at Harvard University’s Medical School.