Four Canadians honoured with 2014 Outstanding Alumni Awards

November 20, 2014

Each year, SFU and the Alumni Association honour our most accomplished graduates with Outstanding Alumni Awards. Nominations are received from alumni, faculty, staff, students and SFU's many friends in the community.

SFU's Alumni Association has selected four exceptional alumni to receive this prestigious award: a champion for mental health in B.C.; one of Canada’s leading forensic archaeologists and a pioneer in forensic taphonomy; an internationally acclaimed mathematics educator; and a world-leading lung cancer pathologist and cancer researcher.

Community Service Award

Darrell Burnham, BA ’76 (economics/psychology), MBA ’86
Executive Director, Coast Mental Health 

For more than 35 years, Darrell Burnham has been transforming the lives of the most vulnerable in our society. As executive director of Coast Mental Health, one of B.C.’s largest community mental-health organizations, he is a tireless champion for mental health in the province. Thousands of people with mental illness have seen their quality of life improved, thanks to the housing, services and programs he has created, the policy he has influenced, and the advocacy work he continues to do on their behalf.

Public Service Award

Sgt. Diane Cockle, PhD ’13 (forensic and biological anthropology)
RCMP Sergeant, National Forensic Identification Support Services

One of Canada’s leading forensic archaeologists, Diane Cockle has spent 18 years in the RCMP, where for the past 14 years she has pursued forensic identification investigations both at home and abroad. As only the third female RCMP officer to earn a PhD, her SFU doctoral thesis was the first in the world to comprehensively study taphonomy, the progression of human decomposition at a crime scene. She is internationally renowned for her work overseas on RCMP-led missions to recover and identify victims of war, terrorist acts, and natural and manmade disasters.

Professional Achievement Award

Kanwal Singh Neel, PhD ’08 (education)
Award-winning math educator 

An exemplary teacher for more than 30 years, Kanwal Neel has won many professional awards, including the Outstanding Secondary Math Teacher of the Year award and the prestigious Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence, Canada’s highest award for teaching. For more than 20 years he hosted the award-winning TV series “Math Shop,” a program that helped students visualize problems and understand mathematical solutions. In recognition of his significant contributions to Canada and his community, he was honoured in 2012 with a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Academic Achievement Award

Ming-Sound Tsao, BSc Hons ’83 (biochemistry)
Lung-cancer researcher, University Health Network

Ming-Sound Tsao is one of the world’s foremost oncologic pathologists and cancer researchers. He has significantly advanced the understanding and use of molecular information to improve lung cancer treatment. His impressive contributions to the advancement of science and medicine through innovative research, transformative discoveries and devoted mentorship is leading to more personalized and efficacious cancer treatments. He is a recipient of the Canadian Cancer Society’s O. Harold Warwick Prize for major impacts on cancer control.