"His interest in my research project motivated me to pursue my goals, even on the days when results were negative."

Julie LeFebvre, former graduate studentn

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2016 Award for Excellence in Supervision: Daniel Leznoff

May 19, 2016

Daniel Leznoff came to SFU in 1999, and in his time at the university he has gone above and beyond for his students. He was recognized in 2015 for his skilled teaching with the SFU Excellence in Teaching Award. According to Steven Holdcroft, Professor and Chair of Chemistry, “his infectious enthusiasm for teaching, mentorship and research contributes significantly to the vibrancy and energy of the department.”

Leznoff's selflessness can be seen on all levels; his time and dedication to his students are reflected in their successes. Former student Julie LeFebvre, now an instructor at the University of Calgary, recalls that Leznoff would check in on his “Leznoffians” on a daily basis, even if this meant Skyping into the lab from a different time zone. “Danny was truly committed to our development and success as graduate students,” says LeFebvre. “His interest in my research project motivated me to pursue my goals, even on the days when results were negative.” Indeed, many of his former students now hold coveted positions at institutions all over the world.

Leznoff has also been known to take on the supervisory role for many “orphaned” students whose supervisors were not able to continue supervising them due to retirement or health issues. Simon Trudel, now an Associate Professor at the University of Calgary, was one such student, and he cites Leznoff as one of the key figures in his academic career. Leznoff supervised Dr. Trudel's spouse, and near the end of their doctoral studies, Leznoff invited both students to his office to talk about their academic futures. This “pivotal” discussion resulted in Trudel acquiring the position he has today. This shows, as Trudel says, that Leznoff “has gone out of his way to provide support, guidance and mentorship to a graduate student that wasn't his responsibility in any sort of way.”

Michael Katz, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Memorial University, recounts a memorable encounter with Leznoff. “I first met Danny during the course of my undergraduate studies where he taught me third year inorganic chemistry,” he says. “Although one would think that the most impressionable moment would be a topic he covered in class, the most impressionable moment occurred outside of class. As I was waiting for the bus one day at the bottom of Hastings street, Danny picked me up and gave me a ride to campus.”

Echoing the sentiments of many, Katz says, “No words can explain what Danny has done for me and his students.” Leznoff has made a positive impact on many students in the Department of Chemistry, across all degrees, and he continues to make an impact on SFU today.