Graduate Convocation Medalists

June 10, 2019
PhD grad Jenn Burt spent nearly 300 hours underwater in kelp forests to conduct research for her thesis.

Top grades lead to top jobs for gold medalists

Doctoral graduates Jenn Burt and Yu Yang have each won a Governor General’s Gold Medal, awarded each year to the two graduating students who achieve the highest academic standing in a doctoral or master’s program.

Jenn Burt

Jenn Burt, who graduates with a PhD in environmental and resource management, spent nearly 300 hours in underwater kelp forests to conduct her thesis research. She also spent countless hours in dialogue and interviews with people in coastal Indigenous communities.

 She was studying the complex social and ecological dynamics governing the recovery of sea otters–notorious predators and architects of ecosystem change—that were eliminated from the B.C. coast during the maritime fur trade. Her research revealed that sea star mesopredators play a critical complementary role together with sea otters in enhancing the resilience of kelp forests. She also summarized the opportunities and barriers for coastal Indigenous communities that are adapting to the profound changes triggered by sea otters, drawing connections between the conditions that enable co-existence and issues of social justice in resource management.

She recently became the BC Marine Program Lead for Nature United, the Canadian affiliate of a global conservation organization. She is tasked with finding innovative solutions to the linked social and ecological challenges that face Canada’s Pacific coast.

Yu Yang

Yu Yang, an international student who is graduating with a PhD in applied sciences, has invented a number of key algorithms for deploying viral marketing campaigns in social networks. His research solved a number of key problems in social marketing, including how to track top influential users in a constantly evolving social network, and how to motivate influential users to trigger effective social propagations for marketing purposes.

He is now collaborating with researchers at Alipay, the world’s largest mobile payment platform, to develop recommendations and marketing algorithms for Alipay’s network. He recently joined the City University of Hong Kong as an assistant professor.

Dean of Graduate Studies’ Convocation Medals

Recognizing graduating students from each faculty whose cumulative grade point average places them in the top five per cent of their class.

Sylvia May Blake, PhD
Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology

Allie Carter, PhD
Faculty of Health Sciences

Sean Godwin, PhD
Faculty of Science

Omar Ibrahim, PhD
Faculty of Applied Sciences

Zul Kanji, EdD
Faculty of Education

Kyeong-min Kim, PhD
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Natalie Knight, PhD
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Victoria Postelthwaite, MRM
Faculty of Environment

Sanam Shafaattalab, PhD
Faculty of Science

Mary Pauline Teegee, MBA
Faculty of Business

Dominic Trevisan, PhD
Faculty of Education