News, Graduate Studies

Convocation Medal Winners: Dr. Zul Kanji and Dr. Dominic Trevisan

June 13, 2019

Congratulations to Dr. Zul Kanji and Dr. Dominic Trevisan, recipients of the Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal! The Convocation Medals for graduate studies recognize graduating students from each faculty whose cumulative grade-point averages place them in the top five per cent of their class.

Dr. Kanji and Dr. Trevisan will receive their awards at Spring Convocation on June 14, 2019.

This spring, SFU celebrated 164 Indigenous graduates, including five PhDs, 67 master’s degrees, and 26 executive MBAs in Indigenous business and leadership.

Dr. Zul Kanji, EdD, Education.
Dissertation: Enhancing Post-secondary Student Support and Retention: Lessons Learned From the Storied Lives of Former First Year BDSc Students

As one of SFU's most outstanding graduate students from the Faculty of Education, Dr. Zulfikar Kanji is being recognized with the Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal. On behalf of SFU, we congratulate Dr. Kanji on his outstanding achievements.

Dr. Zulfikar “Zul” Kanji’s doctoral research examined how a  large Canadian university could do more to support their bachelors of dental science (BDSc) students to stay and succeed in their program beyond their first year. This research helped to shift the traditional dialogue around understanding how students succeed in professional health programs, such as Dentistry.  

While studying, Dr. Kanji held a tenure-track position at his university, continuing to publish his work after successfully completing his thesis defense.

Dr. Kanji's external examiner, Dr. Sharon Compton, says "I do consider this to be an exemplary piece of work. I believe this work has potential to make a significant contribution to existing and future research for examining and understanding the experience of the first year student in post-secondary education." 

Dr. Kanji's supervisor, Dr. Michelle Pidgeon shares her support for Kanji. "As his senior supervisor, it has been my honour to mentor, challenge, and support Zul on his academic journey and I am now very proud to call him a colleague."

“I have found this educational journey to be transformational. Drs. Pidgeon and Nilson in the Faculty of Education have mentored me in ways that challenged my critical thinking and enlightened my understanding of the role of higher education institutions. I am extremely grateful for their guidance and am honoured to receive this distinguished award,” shares Dr. Kanji.

Dr. Zul Kanji holds a tenure-track faculty position, and is also the Director of the Bachelor of Dental Science Program at the University of British Columbia. 


Dr. Dominic Trevisan, PhD, Education.
Dissertation: Alexithymia and Atypical Facial Expressions in Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorders

As one of SFU's most outstanding graduate students from the Faculty of Education, Dr. Dominic Trevisan is being recognized with the Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal. On behalf of SFU, we congratulate Dr. Trevisan on his outstanding achievements.

Prior to coming to SFU to study in the Faculty of Education, Dr. Dominic Trevisan studied Psychology at Humboldt State University in California. Trevisan’s research examines how people with autism perceive, understand, and communicate emotions; helping to provide insight into supporting the unique needs of adults with autism in postsecondary and vocational settings.

Throughout his PhD studies, Dr. Trevisan’s drive for excellence is apparent. He developed a program of research using cutting-edge facial expression analysis software that helps to illustrate why some individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have difficulties using facial expressions and how this is related to the processing of emotions. He also received numerous scholarships and awards since he began his studies, including being admitted into the highly competitive Autism Research Training (ART) program in Canada (CIHR) and he also has an impressive record of publications, conference presentations and invited talks.

Dr. Elina Birmingham, Dr. Trevisan's supervisor calls his dissertation research "truly ground-breaking. What impresses me most about Dominic is his motivation to continually improve as a scholar; he takes on new challenges with maturity and an eye towards growth." 

“I am grateful for the mentorship and training I received from my outstanding committee and other faculty members in my department, the constant support I received from the Faculty of Education staff, and all the unforgettable experiences I had during my time at SFU. It is an honor to be awarded a Convocation Medal,” says Trevisan.

Dr. Dominic Trevisan is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Yale University's School of Medicine where he investigates the neural and physiological bases of atypical emotion processing in autism.