Faculty Profile: Dr. Bonnie Gray, Engineering

February 05, 2015

We're delighted to profile the winners of the 2014 Dean's Awards for Excellence in Graduate Studies. Dr. Bonnie Gray received an award for Excellence in Supervision.

Dr. Bonnie Gray’s students don’t work in a lab, they work in a team. 

During her eleven years with SFU’s School of Engineering Science, Dr. Gray has supervised 6 PhDs, and 10 MSc students. Many have gone on to positions in industry, as well as further studies at top universities such as Stanford —accomplishments that they credit to Dr. Gray’s mentorship.

Dr. Gray takes the time and effort to ensure that all of her students are able to deeply understand the complex technical skills that they are learning. One of her students says, “Dr. Gray created an environment where I was able to perform research and development to my full potential.”  

Dr. Gray also ensures students develop the communication, project management and other essential skills that complement their high-level academic training and prepare them for future careers, whether in academia or the private sector.

Her lab’s publishing record is evident to this fact, having published nearly 100 refereed conference and journal papers. Even more impressive are her efforts to ensure that all members develop writing and presentation skills regardless of prior skill levels.

One of her PhD students says, “Dr. Gray aided us in applying to a conference and worked with us through the difficult process of creating a conference presentation... For two students with basically no academic paper writing experience this was something that took a lot of guidance on her part and the effectiveness of that guidance was clear when we reflected on the final copy we managed to complete.”

The supportive environment Dr. Gray has fostered in her lab has led it to become a leader in innovation—as evident in a recent US patent awarded to her and a former PhD student, who said, “She encourages creative thinking by establishing a policy of ‘free speech.’ Due to the openminded culture in the lab we are able to think outside of the stereotyped frame.”

Further evidence of the excellence of her student-centered approach is in the awards her students have received, including multiple NSERC fellowships, the 2007 Best Poster and Presentation award at Micromechanics Europe, the 2010 Outstanding Research Award from the Canadian Medical and Biological Engineering Society, and the 2014 Symposia-wide Best Student Paper award for the MEMS-MOEMS Conferences at SPIE Photonics West. In addition, her Ph.D. student received the Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal for Applied Sciences in 2011.

In a field where female mentors are in the minority, Dr. Gray’s work towards creating a stimulating, creative and inclusive space that young women and men might be encouraged to join, which is a truly remarkable accomplishment.

Of the Award, Dr. Gray says, “I am extremely happy that my current and former research students have enjoyed their time with me as much as I have enjoyed mentoring them, and that they consider me worthy of such an award.”

Tags: Achievements; profiles; engineering science, Faculty of Applied Sciences

The 2015 Dean of Graduate Studies Awards for Excellence are open for nominations. Deadline for nominations is March 15 yearly.

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