Celebration of Excellence 2021

A special reminder: Today, March 5 2021 is EMPLOYEE APPRECIATION DAY. On the occasion of Employee Appreciation Day, we extend a big thank you to all Brock employees for their hard work and effort throughout the year! The Celebration of Excellence is a time to recognize our award winners but to also honour the amazing work everyone has done this year. OUR FACULTY THRIVES BECAUSE OF YOU!

The Faculty of Mathematics and Science is honoured to announce this year’s winners.

We are pleased to announce this year’s award goes to:


Eligibility Requirements: Permanent FT faculty member and previous recipient of a Faculty and/or University teaching or research award.

Award Intent: Strong commitment to 40:40:20. Greatest contribution in the previous academic year in all aspects of his/her normal workload distribution: including research, teaching and service.

Selection Process:  Candidates are scored from 1-10 on the areas of Research, Teaching and Service as defined in the Nomination Requirements. The scores are summed.


Glenn Tattersall is a deserving recipient for the Dean’s Distinguished Scholar Award. He has a record of excellence in research and of service to the research community. The broad theme of his research is thermal physiology, but under this umbrella he has studied everything from biophysics (how bees supercool) to animal behaviour (how fish and lizards choose thermal microenvironments). He is regarded as a generous research collaborator who has established partnerships with several Brock scientists, as well as colleagues from other universities. He is a helpful and generous research mentor to graduate students, including those of colleagues, who often seek him out for statistical and computing advice. He is described as an innovator in the classroom, and has contributed important upgrades to courses taught by others (e.g., upgraded the labs to the R statistical language, thereby improving improving BIOL 3P96).

We are pleased to announce this year’s award goes to:


Eligibility Requirements: Permanent FT faculty who have completed three years of employment at Brock University.

Award Intent:  Greatest contribution or improvement in the previous academic year in teaching to support the Faculty’s Vision and Mission.

Selection Process: Administered, adjudicated, and awarded by individual Faculties, the Faculty Awardfor Teaching Excellence are awarded to full-time members of the Brock University teaching faculty who have completed three years of employment at Brock University.  A committee of chairs and directors + 1 non-voting chair of either the Dean or Associate Deans reviews all nominations and selects one (1) candidate


“Dr. MacNeil has a reputation for superior teaching, given both her expertise and her ability to engage with students. She is incredibly well-versed in many facets of biology, allowing her to have superbly taught very large introductory biology classes, as well as courses relating to molecular biology, biostatistics, microbiology, biometrics, and ecology. As her student, I was particularly impressed by her knowledge of and enthusiasm for genetics— an often complex and tedious subject which Dr. MacNeil was able to make compelling and easy to digest.”

“Dr. MacNeil’s creative approach to teaching has gained national fame, and Brock has benefited from this spotlight. Stories of her lectures going viral on Twitter and seeing tens of thousands of views, have made their way to both of our national newspapers, to CBC, and to Huffington Post.”

” I enrolled in Dr. MacNeil’s BIOL 3P51 class to further develop my knowledge regarding the realm of genetics. I found that her style of teaching had flawlessly enhanced my understanding, while simultaneously growing my appreciation of the subject. Despite the difficulty and complexity of material covered, Dr. MacNeil had managed to make every single lecture straightforward and easy to follow, all while keeping students engaged during the duration of class.”

Gary Comerford Chair of Brock's Board of Trustees

We are pleased to announce two winners of this year’s award.

In no particular order the awards go to:




Award Intent: Exceptional contribution in the previous academic year in research to support the Faculty’s Vision and Mission.

Selection Process:  A committee of chairs and directors + 1 non-voting chair of either the Dean or Associate Deans reviews all nominations and selects up to three (3) candidate

Accolades for Melanie Pilkington:

“Dr. Pilkington came to Brock in 2003 as a Canada Research Chair (Tier II) and quickly established herself as an excellent teacher, mentor, and educator at all levels, undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral.” “In addition to formal scheduled teaching, Dr. Pilkington has supervised several directed reading and special topics courses and has invested many hundreds of unscheduled hours to teach practical skills to many students, both in her own group and beyond, as well as teaching and enhancing scientific writing and presentation skills.”

“Dr. Pilkington has conducted interesting research that investigates and develops functional materials with practical applications to ‘green’ technology. Her persistence in her role as a researcher has led to impactful contributions to the scientific community and international recognition of her work.”

“Dr. Pilkington research has generated an grants, invited talks and a plethora of publications. Combined with her outstanding teaching performance she is highly deserving of this year’s award.”

Accolades for Yuanlin Li:

“Yuanlin Li has a excellent record of accomplishment in research in pure mathematics. In 2019 to 2020, he published 11 refereed papers in very good international journals and submitted 4 additional papers. One of these papers has led to several invitations for him to be a keynote/plenary speaker at international conferences, as well as 10 colloquium talks at universities.”

“His current research focuses on the investigation of several classical problems concerning B(n, k) groups, clean and nil-clean group rings, and a few long-standing conjectures in combinatorial number theory.”

“His record truly exemplifies the vision both of our Faculty and of Brock University in promoting research at the highest level. In the same period, Yuanlin has supervised two MSc students and co-supervised another two MSc students as well as a postdoctoral fellow. He also co-supervised the research of three PhD students at Nankai University in China and hosted three visiting international scholars. This shows his strength in promoting international collaborations, which is another important component of the strategic outlook of our Faculty and Brock University.”

We are pleased to announce two winners of this year’s award

The winners in no particular order are:




Eligibility Requirements: Permanent FT staff and those with FT contract 12m+ in duration.

Award Intent: Exceptional contribution in the previous academic year distinguishing themselves in their work (exceptional service to Department, FMS, Brock or student/campus life)

Selection Process:  A committee of chairs and directors + 1 non-voting chair of either the Dean or Associate Deans reviews all nominations and selects one up to (2) candidates

Accolades for Amber Cecchini:

“Amber is the most incredibly organized person and as a result the whole department has full confidence in all of the work she does. We have an extremely busy department with over 700 undergraduate majors and many graduate students. Amber is the front line point-of-contact for all inquiries and manages a huge number of contracts for teaching assistants and other part-time staff. She also handles a multitude of other tasks efficiently, quickly, and correctly, while somehow always keeping a smile on her face – even for the less pleasant tasks such as handling academic misconduct meetings. Throughout the pandemic Amber has managed everything just as well as before, and has been incredibly helpful in assisting the other members of the department.”

“Amber has been an administrative assistant in the Department of Computer Science for a few years now. Amber quickly learned her duties extremely fast and efficiently, with minimal instruction. In very little time, she was fully functioning as the administrative assistant. This was such a great help during a time of high student numbers, as well as a pandemic and lockdown. The department was fortunate to have her position renewed. I have heard nothing but glowing praise for Amber from faculty and staff. She is extremely efficient, and has dealt with every problem or task presented to her. Even during the difficult of working at home, everything has proceeded smoothly the past year. She is amazing.”

Accolades for Ivana Metcalf:

“Ivana joined the Department of Physics as a Senior Laboratory Coordinator & Demonstrator in August 2018. Her numerous job responsibilities include running Physics teaching laboratories, managing budgets and resources for teaching and research labs, selecting, training, and overseeing Physics teaching assistants and lab demonstrators, coordinating the Department’s recruitment and outreach effort, and many other duties. From the first day on the job, she has consistently excelled in every task assigned to her, going well above and beyond the normal job expectations.”

“As a sign of Ivana’s dedication to her job, she was the first member of the Department to apply and get access to her campus office and has barely had a day off since the pandemic began. She is often the first one to come to the Department in the morning and always the last one to leave, working very long hours past 5pm.”

Tim Kenyon Vice-President, Research

We are pleased to announce this year’s award goes to:


Eligibility Requirements: Permanent FT faculty including LTAs and ILTAs. Permanent FT staff and those with FT contract 12m+ in duration.

Award Intent: Significant contribution in the previous academic year to the Faculty’s efforts regarding overall student experience, recruitment and outreach.

Selection Process:  A committee of chairs and directors + 1 non-voting chair of either the Dean or Associate Deans reviews all nominations and selects one (1)  candidate

Accolades for Neil Marshall:

“Neil has worked in the Department for over six years and is a valuable resource to the Department due to his course knowledge, dedication to student success, technical expertise, and willingness to assist Department members wherever possible. One of Neil’s major responsibilities is managing our Learning Centre and providing weekly one-on-one help hours in the Centre for all first-year courses.  Providing effective help at a distance is particularly difficult, but Neil has managed to design and implement a very effective strategy and all hours are well-attended by students.”

“Neil is a key resource for first-year students whose first university experience has required them to adjust to learning in an online environment. He may, in fact, be the only contact that many students make when they need assistance.  Consequently, the relationship between Neil and these students is very important. At all times, Neil maintains a professional demeanour while exhibiting empathy for the difficult learning environment in which students find themselves. These students are lucky to have someone so knowledgeable who is genuinely interested in their success and who can appropriately convey his concern for the challenges they are facing.”

“Neil is always interested in the opportunity to work on a new project that extends beyond his normal job duties.  Most recently, with the move to online teaching, the Service Course Committee recommended that some written assignments in Math 1P98 be replaced with online assignments.  This required that several new online assignments be developed, and Neil readily agreed to work with one of our part-time instructors to create them for the fall term.”

We are please to announce the winner of this year’s award goes to:


Eligibility Requirements: Permanent FT faculty member with 20+ years of service at Brock with 50%+ in FMS

Award Intent: Numerous significant contributions to the FMS and Brock throughout their career at Brock.

Selection Process:  A committee of chairs and directors + 1 non-voting chair of either the Dean or Associate Deans reviews all nominations and selects one (1)  candidate

Accolades for Art Van Der Est:

Van Der Est did his undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of British Columbia obtaining his BSc (hons) degree in 1979 and his PhD under Prof. Dr. Elliott Burnell in 1987. He then joined the Physics Department of the Free University of Berlin as a NATO Science Fellow and received his habilitation under Prof. Dr. Dietmar Stehlik in 1999. He was appointed Assitant Professor of Chemistry at Brock University in 1999 and become Associate Professor in 2001 and Full Professor in 2005. In 2011 he spent a term as visiting professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University in Japan.

He is the recipient of the Ontario Premier’s Research Excellence Award and the Brock University Chancellor’s Chair for Research Excellence. He is author or co-author of more than 125 publications including a recent book entitled “The Biophysics of Photosynthesis”, which he co-edited.

  • Senior External Fellow, Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies (2015), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship (2010), Chancellor’s Chair Research Award (2003), Premier’s Research Excellence Award (2000)
  • Research interests in Photosynthesis; time resolved EPR spectroscopy; electron transfer reactions; light-induced electron spin polarization.

Van Der Est is rated highly by his students who have said, “Definitely one of the best chemistry professors out there! So helpful. He really wants to see his students succeed” and “His presentations are neat and organized, allowing for repetitive set-up and understanding of the slides. Plus he’s a casual down to earth professor which makes you feel at ease in class.”

Lynn Wells - Provost and Vice-President, Academic

Watch the video as Joshua Bulfango announces the award winner on behalf of the FMS Student Council. Hint, this is the 2nd Math and Science Council Excellence in Teaching & Student Engagement award earned by this year’s recipient.

This award is chosen by students with voting organized by the FMS student council. The recipient of this award is a Faculty or Staff member that has exhibited a passion for math and science education and has gone above and beyond the requirements of their profession, striving for student success.

Dean Ejaz Ahmed Closing Remarks for the Celebration of Excellence 2021

Cheryl McCormick Event Send-off

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