Faculty of Applied Sciences award winners from left-right: Award presenter Jon Driver, Vice-President of Academic with Dr. Joseph Peters, Mr. Gary Houghton, Dr. Marinko Sarunic, Dr. Greg Mori, Dr. Faisal Beg, Dr. Cenk Sahinalp, and presenter Nimal Rajapakse, Dean of Applied Sciences.

Awards recognize outstanding performers in 2011

December 12, 2011

Six faculty and staff members were recognized by Dean Nimal Rajapakse and VP of Academic, Jon Driver, at the Faculty of Applied Sciences (FAS) Excellence Awards.  This is the second year the awards have been given out to recognize outstanding performance in teaching, research or service.

The 2011 Medals of Excellence Award winners:

Superior Performance in Teaching: Dr. Mirza (Faisal) Beg, Associate Professor of Engineering Science

Dr. Beg is highly respected for his research and outstanding teaching in the Biomedical Engineering option. As one student noted: “Faisal is constantly engaging students in class. It is clear that he is genuinely interested in whether or not we learn the material. Good stuff.”

He has contributed to developing both the undergraduate and graduate curriculum. His accomplishments include creating and teaching two new courses in Biomedical Engineering; receiving consistent praise from students for his ability to explain complex ideas clearly; and participating in graduate supervision by overseeing five PhD and four MSc students.

Superior Performance in Research by a Senior Faculty Member: Dr. Cenk Sahinalp, Professor of Computing Science

The work of Dr. Cenk Sahinalp has enhanced SFU’s reputation as an international research centre in computational genomics, which is part of the fast-moving world of bioinformatics. Dr. Sahnialp is a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Computational Genomics (a mixture of discrete math, algorithms and molecular biology) and has been a faculty member since 2003.

“The aspect of his research that most distinguishes Dr. Sahinalp from the majority of his peers is a uniquely well-thought, solid philosophical thread unifying his investigations…” said one Canada Research Chair referee.  “Such a depth constitutes a solid asset, and it holds the promise of a lasting, articulated and rich crop of results of the highest standard.”

He has attracted outstanding graduate students and collaborated with well-known molecular biologists on real-life problems in genome analysis and structural prediction. He has increased research funding in computational genomics thanks to the depth, complexity and quality of his research, as well as his outstanding leadership skills.

Dr. Sahinalp served as General Chair of RECOMB 2011, the premier International Conference on Research in Computational Molecular Biology. Dr. Sahinalp was the first computer scientist to receive the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar award in 2006, a six-year award that was recently extended for another three years for his work on developing an RNA software tool. His publication record is extremely strong and most of his scholarly work appears in prestigious journals, such as Genome Research and Nature Biotechnology, and at flagship conferences. His leading-edge research will continue to bring recognition to the School of Computing Science, the Faculty and SFU.

Superior Performance in Research by an Early Career Faculty Member (tie): Dr. Greg Mori, Associate Professor of Computing Science

Dr. Greg Mori has already made an impact in the area of computer vision that focuses on analyzing images and videos to understand and predict human behaviour. “His work, appearing in top-tier journals and best conferences in the field of computer vision, has already achieved significant impact placing him at the top of his cohort world-wide in his research area.”

His computer vision research has multiple applications, from streamlining searches of videos on behalf of companies such as YouTube, to security and surveillance. Dr. Mori has published many papers in top-tier journals and in conference papers. Some notable research awards include a Google Fellowship (2011), NSERC Discovery Accelerator Award (2008), Research Excellence and Service Award from the Canadian Image Processing and Pattern Recognition Society (2008) and a strong record of research funding from federal and provincial sources. Dr. Mori is currently supervising five PhD and five MSc students.

Superior Performance in Research by an Early Career Faculty Member (tie): Dr. Marinko Sarunic, Assistant Professor of Engineering Science

With three patents already awarded and two in the process of review, Dr. Marinko Sarunic is proving his ability to launch groundbreaking technology in the area of optical imaging.  “Dr. Marinko Sarunic has been quite a successful junior faculty member and has a strong patent and publication record.”

Dr. Sarunic’s develops optical imaging devices for biomedical applications. His research team uses Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), a non-invasive imaging technique using near-infrared light, to study ophthalmology and vision science. Dr. Sarunic has been successful in securing sizable research funding. Some notable accomplishments include receiving a five-year Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar award, and a large CIHR/NSERC grant where Dr. Sarunic is co-investigator. 

Superior Performance in Service (faculty):  Dr. Joseph Peters, Professor of Computing Science

Dr. Joseph Peters’ involvement with the university goes well beyond what is expected academically. He has been a member of Computing Science for more than 25 years and has spent the past 15 years on many School and university-level committees. “Having a faculty member commit such a long period of continuous service to the governance and administration of our university has been an invaluable service to the development of our School, Faculty and the University.”

He has represented the School on the Senate Committee on University Priorities, and served on many School strategic and planning committees. He played a large role when the Faculty of Applied Sciences restructured to include the Schools of Computing and Engineering Sciences. He was also involved in academic planning for Computing Science at the SFU Surrey campus. In 2008, Dr. Peters became the Associate Director of Computing Science at the Surrey campus, where he supervised the rollout of the new Software Systems program and worked in collaboration with Mechatronic Systems Engineering in creating the Systems One First-Year program.

Superior Performance in Service (staff):  Mr. Gary Houghton, Lab Engineer, School of Engineering Science

Mr. Gary Houghton has been a member of Engineering Science since 1986 when he began work as a research assistant for Dr. Albert Leung.  In 1988 he began work as a full-time employee for the School, managing the clean room operations and any non-computer-related lab projects, such as moving the School from one building to another in 1989 and designing lab layouts.  Gary is the go-to person for anything building and lab-related for Engineering Science and also helped set up the labs in Surrey when the new Mechatronic Systems Engineering program started in 2007. In addition, he has worked on many university committees, including the Central University Safety Committee, the Chemical Safety Committee, and has held many positions with the Administrative and Professional Staff Association (APSA), including President.

See 2010 Medals of Excellence award winners.