Graduate students recognized with Governor General’s Gold Medal awards

The College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (CGPS) is celebrating this year’s recipients of the Governor General’s Gold Medal awards at the University of Saskatchewan (USask).

By Kassidy Guy
Caroline Aubry-Wake, PhD, standing on top of a mountain while conducting research

The Governor General’s Academic Medals were created in 1873 to encourage academic excellence throughout the nation and are recognized as the most prestigious award that students in Canada can receive. Academic Medals are awarded at four distinct levels, with gold medals reserved for graduate students that display outstanding academic performance in their program.  

Two students from the USask were recognized for their exceptional achievement in graduate studies: Caroline Aubry-Wake and Josh Neudorf.  


“It is an immense honour to be recognized for my doctoral work and my contributions to academic excellence at USask,” said Aubry-Wake. “[This award] validates all the efforts that went toward producing my doctoral thesis and reinforces my belief that my work is making a valuable contribution to the scientific community and society at large.”  

Aubry-Wake’s research focuses on how mountain snow and ice serve as crucial water resources for downstream environments, especially in the context of climate change. Since she was a teenager, Aubry-Wake has been concerned about the consequences of climate change for both human societies and ecosystems, and her research at USask works to investigate and address those concerns.  

“I hope that my research will have a meaningful impact on future water security,” explained Aubry-Wake. By providing a better understanding of how mountain snow and ice contribute to downstream water availability, Aubry-Wake’s research supports evidence-based decision and the development of effective adaptation strategies, “My work will contribute to sustainable water management practices, assist in forecasting and mitigating water-related hazards, and ultimately enhance the resilience of communities and ecosystems in the face of a changing climate.”  

Josh Neudorf, PhD, posing for a photo in front of his computer desktop while conducting research

Josh Neudorf, a PhD graduate from the Department of Psychology and Health Studies, was also honoured to be recognized with the Governor General’s Gold Medal.  

“I think it highlights the impact and importance of current research in the field of computational cognitive neuroscience,” said Neudorf. "I am so grateful to the inspiring faculty and students I have collaborated with over the years, and especially grateful to my graduate supervisor, Professor (Dr.) Ron Borowsky (PhD).”  

Driven by a passion for learning, Neudorf’s PhD research fits within the realm of computational cognitive neuroscience, specifically focusing on investigating how the brain’s structural connections constrain and support brain functions. By using a combination of cognitive experiments and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Neudorf and his collaborators can better understand how the brain works.  

“To understand the relationship between structural connectivity and brain function, my collaborators and I employed a number of computational and mathematical methods that had not yet been applied to this research question,” he said.  

By utilizing a combination of research methods, Neudorf’s research has the potential to contribute to a more inclusive healthcare system. 

 “The graph neural network deep learning method has the potential to provide patients with predictive brain mapping based on their brain connectivity, even for patients who may lack the cognitive or linguistic capacity to perform all of the typical neuroimaging assessments.”  

Additionally, in his work as a National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Postdoctoral Fellow with world-leading computational cognitive neuroscientist Professor (Dr.) Randy McIntosh (PhD) of Simon Fraser University, Neudorf is investigating brain connectivity changes that help preserve cognitive ability with older age.  

In addition to the Governor General’s Gold Medals, the USask College of Graduate Studies and Research has announced the recipients of the 2022-23 USask Graduate Thesis Awards. These awards recognize excellence in graduate student research across various disciplines.

2022-23 University of Saskatchewan Graduate Thesis Awards - PhD

Humanities and Fine Arts recipient:
Kyle Dase, PhD, Department of English

Life Sciences recipient:
Saniya Alwani, PhD, College of Pharmacy and Nutrition

Physical and Engineering Sciences recipient:
Douglas Fansher, PhD, Department of Chemistry

Social Sciences A recipient:
Caroline Aubry-Wake, PhD, Department of Geography and Planning

Social Sciences B recipient:
No Nominations

2022-23 University of Saskatchewan Graduate Thesis Awards - Master's

Humanities and Fine Arts recipient:
Louisa Ferguson, MFA, Department of Art and Art History

Life Sciences recipient:
Kawthar Mohamed, MSc, College of Pharmacy and Nutrition

Physical and Engineering Sciences recipient:
Ian Andvaag, MSc, Department of Chemistry

Social Sciences A recipient:
Tina Elliott, MES, School of Environment and Sustainability

Social Sciences B recipient:
Theresa Tavares Neto, MA, Interdisciplinary Studies

2022-23 Herbert Percy Toop Memorial Prize in Scientific Writing

Kayla Buhler, PhD, Department of Veterinary Microbiology