ChemE’s 2023 Student Life Catalyst Award recipients announced

2023 Student Life Catalyst Award winners
Top L-R: Gehna Karani, Vashish Ramoutar, Purushoth Thavendran, and Kim Watada; Bottom L-R: Jose Cadavid, Saif Rjaibi, and Sourojeet Chakraborty

The Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry (ChemE) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023 Student Life Catalyst Awards. This departmental award recognizes outstanding final-year undergraduate and graduate students for their remarkable contributions to the ChemE student-life experience. The winners have demonstrated exceptional dedication, leadership, and innovation, making a significant impact on their respective communities.

Among the undergraduate recipients, Gehna Karani has been recognized for her remarkable contributions to Chem Club throughout her educational journey. Gehna has played a vital role in executing various committees, including the Annual Dinner Dances and Chem Video Showcases. She has shown great initiative and creativity by developing a time capsule video during the pandemic, showcasing the unity within our chemmunity. Her active involvement in Chem Club as Social Director and Fourth-Year Class representative further demonstrate her commitment to her peers.

Vashish Ramoutar, another undergraduate recipient, has shown unwavering dedication and leadership within the ChemE community. Vashish played a pivotal role in organizing the most memorable and inclusive F!rosh Week that U of T Engineering has seen in years, ensuring a vibrant experience for students from diverse backgrounds. His advocacy for equitable access to education as a member of EngSoc’s Academic Appeals Board has further exemplified his commitment to student welfare. Additionally, Vashish’s roles as the Graditude Director and Chemmunity Engagement Director within Chem Club highlight his exceptional achievements in fostering strong relationships with faculty and organizing community-building events.

Purushoth Thavendran, another deserving undergraduate recipient, has been an active member of the chemmunity since his first year. Throughout his journey, Purushoth has demonstrated exceptional leadership as Treasurer, Vice Chair, and ultimately, Chair of Chem Club. He spearheaded various initiatives and events, including the introduction of lab lockers and overseeing numerous successful initiatives. Purushoth’s proudest achievement was revitalizing the sense of community within the department after the pandemic, resulting in a thriving chemmunity.

Kimberly Watada, our final undergraduate recipient, has held significant leadership roles across various student organizations, including the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering (CSChE) U of T Student Chapter, ChemClub, and Global Spark. Her role as Chair of CSChE U of T showcases her exceptional leadership skills in providing professional development events and resources to the chemical engineering student body. Kimberly’s dedication extends beyond her organizational involvement, as she has also excelled academically and made notable contributions as a teaching assistant and ambassador for the U of T Engineering Student Recruitment & Retention Office.

In the graduate student category, Jose Cadavid, a PhD graduate from our department, has been recognized for his outstanding contributions to the Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Association (CEGSA). Jose’s exceptional leadership as President of CEGSA during the 2019-2020 term has made a lasting impact on the graduate student community. He also served as a team leader in the BME Discovery Program, further showcasing his commitment to fostering a passion for STEM among high-school students.

Saifedine (Saif) Rjaibi, an MASc graduate this November, has been honored for his dedication to mentorship and fostering a strong student community. As the leader of the Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Mentorship Program, Saif has facilitated meaningful connections between first-year and upper-year graduate students, creating a supportive environment for all. His role as the Chemistry Lead for U of T Engineering’s Discovery Program has also allowed him to empower students from underrepresented communities, providing them with valuable opportunities for inquiry-based learning and practical laboratory skills development.

Lastly, Sourojeet Chakraborty, a PhD graduate this November, has been recognized for his exemplary leadership and involvement within the department. Serving in various roles, including VP-Finance & Operations of CEGSA and VP-Finance and President of Water Environment Association of Ontario (WEAO) U of T, Sourojeet has consistently demonstrated his commitment to enhancing the student experience. His contributions to the undergraduate curriculum have been instrumental in incorporating industry standards and practices, ensuring students are well-prepared for their professional careers.

“ChemE congratulates all the Student Life Catalyst Award recipients for their exceptional contributions and achievements. Their commitment to our chemmunity has made a lasting impact and set a high standard for future student leaders. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to all graduating students and wish them success in their future endeavors,” says Professor Ramin Farnood, Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry