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University of Toronto


Recent awards for students, faculty and staff in the Department of Physics.

Student Awards

Richard E. Azuma Undergraduate Summer Fellow

The Richard E. Azuma Fellowship commemorates renowned TRIUMF and University of Toronto physicist Dr. Dick Azuma, who was instrumental in establishing the field of experimental nuclear astrophysics in Canada. Dick played an integral role in advancing Canadian nuclear physics for all and contributed to many topics and initiatives, including the well-known "Red Giant" experiment, which laid the foundation for TRIUMF’s ISAC and ARIEL facilities and rare-isotope science program. In addition to his leadership for Canadian science, Dick was a passionate educator, a fierce defender against prejudice and discrimination, and a valued mentor to a generation of emerging science leaders. The Fellowship seeks to honour his legacy and support promising Canadian undergraduate students with diverse backgrounds who are considering a career in research fields associated with TRIUMF science.

Gabby Gelinas

Gabby Gelinas Azuma

Gabby is a third year Honors Physics student minoring in Mathematics at the University of Calgary. She is the President of the University’s Physics and Astronomy Students’ Association, and a prominent member of several departmental committees focused on student advocacy, curriculum development, and equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Gabby Gelinas was selected as one of the inaugural recipients of the Richard E. Azuma Undergraduate Summer Fellowship. She is a third year Honors Physics student minoring in Mathematics at the University of Calgary.


Loudon-Hines Medal 2021-2022

Awarded by the Faculty of Arts & Science on the recommendation of the Department of Physics, the Loudon-Hines Gold Medal and Scholarship is presented annually to a top graduating student in the Specialist or Major program in Physics who also demonstrates creativity and a clear promise in the discipline of physics.
Samuel Jinglian Li


2022 Canadian Association of Physicists Lloyd G. Elliott University Prize Exam

The 2022 prize exam was held on March 22, 2022 and University of Toronto students had stellar results, taking 3 of the top 10 spots.

2nd – Samuel Li


3rd (tie) – Amirali Atrli
"When I found out I had achieved the 3rd place in the CAP exam, it felt good; as if I was harvesting a fruit of my studying and being interested in physics since I was a child. I am glad that I am in this path and that I am getting closer to my goals."

Amirali Atli CAP

6th (tie) – Tony An

Tony An CAP


Van Kranendonk Awards

The Van Kranendonk Award is given every year to four graduate students who have done the best job as Teaching Assistants during the current year, based on nominations from undergraduate students.

Named in honour of U of T Physics Professor Jan Van Kranendonk, who was the recipient of many awards (including the 1976 Gold Medal for achievement in physics awarded by the Canadian Association of Physicists) but who was also renowned as an excellent teacher.

Nicholas Anto-Sztrikas PHY131, PHY252


“Nick was a great TA and I always enjoyed attending his practical. I felt that Nick did a good job of explaining concepts, which he did through the use of engaging comparisons. Nick went beyond the assignments and gave us "scientific life advice," such as how we should interpret data and how we should compare new data to the current model, which I found to be very useful. He was always encouraging towards students and gave us many chances to succeed.”

Daniel Schultz PHY293, PHY354

Daniel Schultz

“A great teacher, and very considerate. Clearly very knowledgeable about the material, but always patient when explaining/trying to relate to concepts we were familiar with. Offered additional office hours, helped us review for exams, made us cookies. Amazing TA.”

Sreekar Voleti PHY131, PHY252, PHY293


“Amazing job at explaining difficult concepts in relativity/waves, very friendly, funny, and kind, went out of his way to provide office hours before tests. All around great guy and great TA.”

Suzanne Wong PHY131 (Dept. of Biomedical Engineering)


“Suzanne Wong is an excellent TA and certainly deserves recognition. She is very caring towards her students and an excellent communicator. She has made herself available outside of practical time….Her feedback is always detailed, targeted, constructive, clear, and well-communicated. Overall, she is a caring and conscientious teaching assistant that is punctual, hardworking, accommodating, supportive, fair, and clear.”

Faculty Awards

Physics Student Union (PhySU) Teaching Awards

The PhySU Teaching Award is an annual award started in 2021 to recognize exceptional pedagogy in undergraduate Physics courses. The award is given to two individuals (one per semester) at the end of each academic year. The winners are selected by the PhySU Executive based on student nominations.

Fall 2021
Paul Kushner
- for exceptional pedagogy in PHY151


“Professor Kushner is extremely nice and organized. He is very accessible outside of class to answer questions and always encouraged me to pursue physics. Entering my first-year studying physics was extremely daunting but [he] always made me feel welcome in physics. He is a fantastic professor and it is clear that he really cares about his subject and his students.”

“His passion for physics is evident in the way he teaches, and it's amazing how well he has organized the synchronous/asynchronous lecture format.”

“His passion for physics was evident, and he made sure to take time to fully explain the material at office hours.”

Winter 2022
Michael Luke
- for exceptional pedagogy in PHY354

Michael Luke

“Professor Luke introduced course concepts in a way that was incredibly intuitive and satisfying. He took questions with patience and clarity, and is clearly one who enjoys teaching what he teaches.”

“Great in-person physical demonstrations, an excited/interested mood towards the material that helped engage the students, and an ability to answer questions with great detail.”

“Shared [fascination] with subject in a way that made students fascinated, great insight into fundamental laws, always improves lectures with student input.”

2022 Jacques Solvay International Chair in Physics awarded to Professor Juna Kollmeier

Juna Kollmeier

The Solvay Institutes have selected Professor Juna Kollmeier, Director of the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA) as its 2022 Jacques Solvay International Chair in Physics. Professor Kollmeier is the first scientist from Canada to receive this honour, whose past 16 recipients have included two Nobel Laureates.


2021 Patterson Distinguished Service Medal awarded to Professor Kimberly Strong

Kimberly Strong

At a virtual ceremony in June 2022, Professor Kimberly Strong was awarded the 2021 Patterson Distinguished Service Medal by the Meteorological Service of Canada. The medal is presented annually to recognize outstanding contributions in the field of Canadian meteorology.


Professor Yong-Baek Kim is one of five Arts & Science scholars named Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada

YB Kim

Professor Yong Baek Kim was named a Fellow of the RSC in September 2022. This honour is in recognition of his significant contributions to theoretical understanding of emergent quantum phenomena in strongly spin-orbit coupled quantum materials, which include quantum spin liquids and novel quasiparticles.


Professor Kimberly Strong receives the Royal Society of Canada’s Willet G. Miller Medal

Kimberly Strong

Professor Kimberly Strong has been awarded the 2022 Willet G. Miller Medal from the Royal Society of Canada for her contributions to atmospheric science. She notes that this award "is not just for me, it's for my group as well, as my research is highly collaborative. When I think of all of my graduate students, postdocs, and other group members over the years, this award is a reflection of their cumulative accomplishment.”


Staff Awards

Faculty of Arts and Science Distinguished Long Service Award

April Seeley - First Year Undergraduate Assistant, Department of Physics

April Seeley been a pillar of our undergraduate program for more than 30 years. Over this period, she has been largely responsible for all of the administration associated with our large first-year Physics courses, tirelessly supporting both faculty and our students in numerous ways. Although her primary responsibilities are in administrative support, she has broadened her skillset by adopting new technologies for her own purposes, as well as gaining the expertise to be a resource for others, particularly instructors. This has included maintaining advanced skills in desktop and internet publishing, various database and student results management tools and University Learning Management tools. She has also contributed in substantial ways to the life of the Physics Department, whether organizing our annual December Holiday Party or supporting our Joint Health and Safety Committee. We were delighted that April was recognized with one of the 2022 A&S Outstanding Staff Awards.


Department of Physics Staff Awards

2021-2022 continued to be a complex year for Department operations. All staff members have worked hard and smart, literally working overtime to keep everything running despite the many challenges created by the pandemic.

As a result it was more difficult that normal to choose from the many nominations, but one technical, and two administrative staff members deserve special recognition:

Administrative Staff Award

Beata Kuszewska, PTS Financial Assistant and Graduate Office

Beata June 2022

"Every year Beata communicates with hundreds of applicants from all around the world helping them apply for our graduate program. She tirelessly points to correct sources of information, explains admissions requirements, and procedures. This year especially was challenging for admissions as the university implemented a new online process. Beata showed great determination in liaising with programmers, staff at the School of Graduate Studies and other members of the graduate office to implement the new procedures, resolve discrepancies and improve user manuals. Although always cheerful and seemingly carefree, her persistence resulted in improvements that will benefit our program well into the future."

Christopher McGugan, Administrative Assistant to the Chair

Chris McGugan June 2022

"In an unprecedented recruitment year for the Department, Chris was responsible for managing six faculty searches, including posting the job ads in many venues, making all the application materials available to the search committees, scheduling multiple search committee meetings for very busy members, and scheduling two-day visits for 21 candidates. He also dealt with collecting and organizing documents for an interim review, a continuing status review, two promotions, and two tenure reviews. This all involved a huge amount of communication and coordination with many people. Chris kept things on track and was unfailingly good natured throughout."

Technical Staff Award

Larry Avramidis, Senior Learning Services Specialist

Larry Avramidis

"For many years Larry has enabled physics learning at the highest level. He is extremely generous with his time, supporting students, teaching assistants, and course instructors, and his technical abilities have been described as "magic" because they appear to be above and beyond what anyone else can do. He is always calm and understanding, and infinitely patient. During the pandemic Larry has been the anchor for advanced lab operations, working on site to support online teaching, sourcing and assembling kits for students to use from home, and rearranging rooms and equipment to met distancing requirements. His contributions are exemplary."

Special Staff Excellence Award

Peter Hurley, Chief Administrative Officer

At the June End-of-Year Party, a Special Staff Excellence Award was given to Peter Hurley In recognition of his outstanding leadership and exceptional level of commitment to advancing the work of the Department over many years.

Peter Hurley

As CAO, Peter is responsible for the administrative, financial and operational management of the Physics Department, which includes about 50 faculty, 35 technical and administrative staff, and more than 200 graduate students. Peter is deeply engaged in keeping the Physics Department running well so that we can achieve our teaching and research goals.

During the pandemic when nearly everyone was working from home, Peter almost single-handedly looked after operations from his office on the third floor. No task was too great or too small.

He is a consummate professional, knows the workings of the Department inside and out, and works tirelessly to deal with the myriad issues which arise every year in a Department as large and complex as Physics, including the many new issues associated with the pandemic.

Peter’s association with the Physics Department goes back to his undergraduate days, when he was a BSc student here. October 2021 marked Peter’s 30th anniversary as a staff member.

Here are just a few of the comments that were received about Peter:
“He actually knows more about education than most professors.” [Note: Peter has a B.Ed. and a M.Ed., as well as his degrees in Physics]
• He has a “constantly surprising comprehension and grasp of the policies -- and their implications -- that we operate with, at the University of Toronto”
• “I can honestly say that Peter is the best supervisor I have ever had.”
• “Peter's excellence is not in the grand gestures but in those unnoticed and taken for granted moments of going above and beyond in every thing he does.”
• “He is ALWAYS kind. And I know kindness is not in the job description, but it contributes to the culture in the department and sets the tone for interactions.”
• “In every interaction he was kind, erudite and helpful. He just does whatever needs doing.”
• “He is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to what is best for our department.”

Selected photos from the awards ceremony at the end of term party on June 23, 2022.

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