Discovery Awards celebrate outstanding innovators, game‑changing achievements

Chemisty's Mita Dasog wins Emerging Professional award

- November 27, 2020

Mita Dasog, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, received the Emerging Professional Award at this year's Discovery Awards Thursday night. (Danny Abriel photo)
Mita Dasog, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, received the Emerging Professional Award at this year's Discovery Awards Thursday night. (Danny Abriel photo)

One of Dal’s own was an award recipient at the 18th annual Discovery Awards Thursday night.

The awards, hosted by Halifax’s Discovery Centre and held virtutally this year, recognize talented individuals and outstanding companies that have helped to make Nova Scotia a leader in science, technology, and innovation. As a marquee fundraiser, all proceeds from the annual event directly support the Discovery Centre’s not-for-profit mission, enabling them to provide the very best in hands-on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) learning for youth from one end of the province to the other.  

Mita Dasog, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, received the Emerging Professional Award. Her research group explores materials for use in clean-energy applications and focuses on developing materials for use in devices that convert to chemical energy — precisely what photosynthesis does in nature. Mimicking photosynthesis with synthetic inorganic materials instead is an up-and-coming approach to harvesting solar energy.

Dr. Dasog’s work has earned her several honours, including the Canadian Council of University Chemistry Chairs Doctoral Award for the best chemistry PhD work in Canada, a “Top 25” Global Young Scientists in Sustainable Research Award from the German government, and one of the top 150 women in STEM for her outreach efforts with youth and young women. In June 2020, she was invited to join the Global Young Academy – and is the only member to have ever been appointed from Dalhousie.

The virtual award show was co-sponsored by Dalhousie University and Saint Mary’s University. Dalhousie’s Faculty of Science and Faculty of Medicine sponsored the Youth Award (presented to Michelle Song from Horton High School), and the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation sponsored the Emerging Professional award.

Get to know the finalists from other categories below.


Martin Alda

Dr. Alda is a professor of psychology and the Killam Chair in mood disorders at Dalhousie. He also holds appointments at McGill University, University of Pittsburgh and the National Institute of Mental Health in the Czech Republic.

The focus of his research is on major psychiatric disorders and their genetics. He works on mapping genes for these conditions, linking the genetic basis with treatment response, and examining how the genetic risk translates into behavioural and clinical features of the illness.


Shashi Gujar

Dr. Gujar is an Assistant Professor in Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine. He is developing methods to strip cancer of its ability to hide from the immune system by using cancer-killing viruses to target and kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells.

Through his innovative research, Dr. Gujar is hoping to discover the next generation of cancer immunotherapies, which will aid in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancers.

Alyson Kelvin

Dr. Kelvin is an Assistant Professor at Dal’s Faculty of Medicine. Her cutting-edge research has led to important discoveries in the fields of viral immunology and vaccinology, including the timely development of COVID-19 preclinical models and vaccines in Canada.  

Her work is focused on emerging viruses and the development of vaccines for these viral threats. She studies how the immune system is regulated to develop immune memory during viral infection and viral vaccine immunization.


Travis McDonough, Kinduct Technologies

Travis McDonough is founder of Kinduct Technologies, a Halifax-based performance tracking software company used by nearly 50 professional sports teams. Dr. McDonough is a Dalhousie alumnus from the Faculty of Science.


Corrine McIsaac, Health Outcomes Worldwide

Corrine McIsaac is the CEO of Health Outcomes Worldwide, a company that provides desktop and mobile e-health solutions to assist healthcare organizations to deliver better patient outcomes and reduce costs. She is currently enrolled in a PhD program at Dalhousie, specializing in outcome management.


Arunika Gunawardena

Dr. Gunawardena is a Professor in the Faculty of Science. Her research focuses on programmed cell death (PCD), the process by which cells self-destruct. This plays an important role in the development and defence mechanisms of both plants and animals. Understanding how the process works, and what mechanics protect certain cells from programmed death has far reaching applications, from medicine to agriculture – including increasing the self-life of crops.

Dr. Gunawardena is actively involved in outreach activities, and is currently the President of the Atlantic Science Links Association. She very much enjoys teaching and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, and sharing her knowledge and love of science with young children.

For a full list of award recipients, visit the Discovery Centre website.


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