Dal's Killam scholars exemplify where possibility meets impact

New Killam scholars, existing research chairs celebrated at event

- November 23, 2023

Clockwise from top left: Killam Scholars Karinne Lantz, Ghada Abdelmageed, Dominique de Waard, Grace McNutt, Lindsey Power, and Billy Johnson.
Clockwise from top left: Killam Scholars Karinne Lantz, Ghada Abdelmageed, Dominique de Waard, Grace McNutt, Lindsey Power, and Billy Johnson.

Dalhousie celebrated its latest Killam Scholars at a reception on campus last month that shone a light on how these individuals are shaping new perspectives and creating lasting change in their respective fields — from literature and law to medicine and beyond. 

The afternoon celebration highlighted the Killam Memorial Chairs and included an announcement of new professorships, and pre- and post-doctoral fellows, as well as the recipients of special awards, including the George Cooper Killam Graduate Prizes and the Killam International Research Awards. 

“The Killam Scholarships and Fellowships are where possibility meets impact,” said Dr. Marty Leonard, dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, at the event held in the Joseph Strug Concert Hall. “The research that our Killam Scholars and Chairs are undertaking is creating lasting change at a local, national, and global level. The Killam Awards help drive this innovation.”

A gift with impact

To date, the Killam Trust has supported more than 2,100 Killam Scholars. The original gift given by Dorothy Killam in memory of her late husband, Izaak Walton Killam, has supported their shared passion to give strength to cutting-edge research and higher education. 

“Mrs. Killam’s ambition was to build Canada’s future by encouraging advanced study. Killam scholarships and fellowships for emerging researchers helps us achieve this goal,” said Bernie Miller, managing trustee with the Killam Trusts.

Bernie Miller, managing trustee with the Killam Laureates.

The Killam Scholarships continue to be the most prestigious post-graduate awards at Dalhousie and have helped establish the university as a leading research institution nationally. 

“The gift that formed the Killam Scholarships was visionary with intention, because the Killams understood that the future of the country was — and is — tied to the ability of our graduate students and researchers to devote themselves to the creation of new knowledge,” said Dalhousie President Dr. Kim Brooks.

Dr. Alice Aiken, Dal’s vice-president research and innovation, said the awards have been an essential building block of research excellence at the university.

"The Killam Trusts have been fundamental to the success of our research enterprise, funding exceptional researchers and graduate students who work alongside and support our researchers to advance knowledge across our academic community,” said Dr. Aiken. 

Research in action

This year, the award ceremony saw two Killam Scholars — past winners of the Killam Impact Award — and an existing Killam Memorial Chair take the stage and share the impact of their research. 

Karen Tang and Julia Cantelon, both pre-doctoral scholars, provided 3 Minute Thesis-style presentations on their respective research areas of video-game addiction and groundwater incursion on small islands.

“The work of our the Killam Scholars continue to put forward illustrates beautifully that research with purpose does not know the bounds of one faculty or discipline but is shaped by the inquisitive and brightest minds our university has to offer,” said Dr. Leonard.  

Dr. Mita Dasog, a Killam Memorial Chair in the Department of Chemistry, discussed the transformative potential of her research. Her research group focuses on developing nanomaterials for sustainable fuel production, desalination, and water purification, all using sunlight.

“The Killam Memorial Chairs program provides Dalhousie with significant support to sustain the success of leading scholars in our academic community,” said Dr. Aiken. “The investments made by the Killam Trusts in the Killam Memorial Chairs program are having a profound impact in shaping our research environment, seeding the ground for future discoveries and thought leadership.”

Meet some of this year’s Killam Scholars

Dalhousie welcomed 23 new Killam Scholars this year. We spoke with four pre-doctoral scholars and one postdoctoral scholar about their research and what the Killam awards mean to them. 

Killam Chairs

Killam Memorial Chairs at the Killam Awards Event. 

Dr. Jeanna Parsons Leigh 

Dr. Parsons Leigh is establishing a cross-national research program focused on optimizing public health emergency preparedness in Canada, with an eye on helping us meet the challenge of our next health crisis. 

Dr. Kevin Plucknett

Dr. Plucknett is helping to establish Dalhousie as a leader in advanced materials that promise to help humanity meet challenges in everything from energy to healthcare.  

Dr. Mita Dasog 

Dr. Dasog is internationally recognized for her research that promises to have significant global impact on issues such as fossil-fuel dependence and access to freshwater.

Dr. Afua Cooper

Dr. Cooper’s trailblazing work and research has been — and continues to be — a defining force in helping Canadians understand the integral role of people of African descent in our nation’s history.


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