Waterloo graduates earn distinguished Governor General Gold Medal

Hands holding gold medal
Hands holding gold medal
The University of Waterloo is pleased award three graduate students with the prestigious Governor General Gold Medal at Spring 2024 Convocation.  

The Governor General’s Gold Medal is awarded to graduate students with outstanding academic performances and tremendous records of scholarship. Awardees represent our exceptionally gifted community of scholars who are creating knowledge and generating transformative research to the betterment of society. 

Winners are decided by the Advisory Committee on Graduate Scholarships and Awards after reviewing nominations each competition cycle. Nominees not chosen to receive a medal will receive a certificate and designation of being a University Finalist.

This year, the University will present the distinguished award to one master’s and two PhD graduands. Join us in celebrating their remarkable accomplishments.  

Jeremy Chizewer 

Jeremy Chizewer completed a Master of Mathematics (Combinatorics and Optimization) degree under the supervision of Dr. Stephen Melczer. 

Chizewer’s research adapts mathematical results to develop general tools for the study of  combinatorial structures. His results - published in three journals during his master’s program - rely on a deep understanding of several areas of pure mathematics and a strong knowledge of computer science. Chizewer gave several talks on this work at national and international conferences and supervised a group of undergraduate researchers through Waterloo’s Women in Mathematics directed reading program. He previously won an Editor’s Choice Award from the Discrete Mathematics journal for work completed during his undergraduate degree at Princeton University. 

Chizewer will begin his PhD at the University of Chicago in September 2024. 

Dr. Emma Juracic  

Dr. Emma Juracic completed a PhD in Kinesiology and Health Sciences, under the supervision of Dr. Russell Tupling, where she studied the membrane system that regulates calcium inside the muscle cells of our bodies.   

Juracic’s doctoral dissertation examined the roles of two newly discovered regulatory proteins that interact with a calcium pump protein named SERCA, which is integral within the membrane system inside the muscle cells of our bodies that governs calcium homeostasis. Her research provides new insights into the intricate regulatory mechanisms governing cellular calcium homeostasis within muscle.  

Juracic has published nine papers, including one in the journal Nature. She has also received impressive research support for her work, including a prestigious NSERC postgraduate scholarship. She has regularly presented at national and international conferences on exercise physiology and was the recipient of the Walter B. Cannon award by the American Physiological Society. 

Juracic has started her postdoctoral fellowship at McMaster University, where she is leading a clinical trial with the aim of advancing our understanding of Type 1 Diabetes-induced skeletal muscle myopathy and the role of exercise training in maintaining muscle health. 

Dr. Alexander Cameron Walker  

Dr. Alexander Cameron Walker completed a PhD in Psychology under the supervision of Drs. Jonathan Fugelsang and Derek Koehler. 

Walker’s doctoral research examined the consequences of linguistic choices, demonstrating how the strategic use of euphemistic (agreeable) and dysphemistic (disagreeable) terms shape peoples’ moral evaluations of actions, particularly when act details are ambiguous. Despite this persuasive influence, he finds that speakers can utilize euphemistic and dysphemistic terms in an honest way, being judged as far more trustworthy and moral than liars. Likewise, in the political domain, liberals and conservatives alike judged speakers more positively when describing events using politically biased as opposed to politically neutral language. 

Thus, in politically homogenous social networks, individuals and organizations may be incentivized to describe reality in a politically biased manner. While beneficial to individuals in certain contexts, the prevalence of partisan language can have negative consequences for society at-large. When seen by rivals, partisan language amplified negative evaluations of political out-group members, resulting in them being perceived as less trustworthy and moral. 

As such, Walker’s research reveals how partisan language, while praised by political in-group members, exacerbates political polarization, damaging trust and amplifying disagreement across political divides. 

Walker is currently a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences at Brown University. 

Other finalists considered for this year’s Governor General Gold Medal: 

Master’s finalists 

Mary Ann Gray, Geography Supervisor: Dr. Micheal Stone 

Seung June Lee, Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering Supervisor: Dr. Carolyn Ren 

Chloe Eve McLeod, Kinesiology Supervisor: Dr. Jason Au 

Gillian Adrianne Wagenaar, History (Spring 2024) Supervisor: Dr. Steven Bednarski 

Doctoral finalists 

Dr. Tao Guo, Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering Supervisor: Dr. Norman Zhou 

Dr. Nils Hendrik Lukas, Computer Science (Spring 2024) Supervisor: Dr. Florian Kerschbaum 

Dr. Guneet Sandhu, Sustainability Management (Spring 2024)