2023-2024 Faculty Graduate Mentoring Awards

Six professors at Carleton have won a Faculty Graduate Mentoring Award (FGMA) at a ceremony held on March 18, 2024!

Graduate students sent in nomination letters to the Graduate Studies (GS) supporting their favourite supervisor and the impact they have made. This award is in recognition of faculty who provide exceptional service to graduate students as supervisors and research mentors.

Sponsored by Graduate Studies and the Office of the Vice-President (Research and International), these awards reflect the impact excellent mentoring can have on graduate students.

2023-2024 Faculty Graduate Mentoring Award Winners: James Casteel, Isaac Otchere, Catherine Cullingham, Nafiseh Kahani, Robert Coplan. Missing from photo is Francine Darroch. Photo by Lindsay Ralph.

Below are this year’s winners (in alphabetical order), along with some edited quotes taken from their students’ nomination letters:

James Casteel, Associate Professor in Modern and Contemporary European History and was the founding program director of our Master’s and Graduate Diploma programs in Migration and Diaspora Studies

  • “I saw firsthand how Dr. Casteel engaged with students with respect, allowing their experiences to guide courses, and ensuring that students felt secure and safe to share knowledge on their own terms. Prior to taking his courses, I never had a professor who had invested himself in not just the academic success of their students, but their personal growth. This all occurred online, which cannot be emphasized enough.”
  • “His mentorship culminated in both my thesis winning a Senate Medal for Academic Achievement, as well as helping me see a future beyond the classroom. Leaders and mentors like Dr. Casteel do not just become professors to pursue their own research. They invest themselves in the aspirations and goals of future generations.”
  • “Professor Casteel has been an exceptional mentor to me. He is the reason that I chose to pursue my PhD at Carleton and if it were not for him, I would not be continuing with my PhD. Whenever I faced some sort of academic rejection, Prof. Casteel would help me see it as something I could learn and grow from as opposed to a reflection of my abilities. His support and encouragement of my research has been instrumental in helping me continue to stay motivated.”

Robert Coplan, Chancellor’s Professor in Psychology

  • “Beyond research and academic successes, Dr. Coplan’s interpersonal and leadership skills have resulted in my most valued resources to date – my labmates. He recognizes the challenges of graduate school, addressing feelings of isolation and imposter syndrome. He nurtures a vibrant and supportive lab community through collaborative projects and social events.”
  • “He has provided me with multiple opportunities to engage in research, with the intent of publishing. Dr. Coplan prioritizes his students and helping them establish their own careers.”
  • “The relationships Dr. Coplan builds with his students, which are based on ongoing trust and respect, help create a space where we feel safe exploring challenging new material and handling problems that may arise through our research. He is accessible and provides constructive feedback throughout the research process, while promoting student growth and independence.”

Catherine Cullingham, Assistant Professor at the Department of Biology

  • “I witnessed firsthand her dedication to being a great professor. She adeptly prioritizes active learning, creating dynamic classroom experiences that encourage engagement and critical thinking among her students.”
  • “Despite her demanding schedule, she prioritizes aiding students who seek her guidance, going above and beyond to resolve their issues.”
  • “She practices what she preaches, more so than any scientist I have ever met. She said she wanted to feel supported in grad school and proved that by giving me resources on dissertation writing, timelines, and including me on all of her lab events. Cathy is an exemplar of what it is to be a mentor.”

Francine Darroch, Health Sciences Assistant Professor and founder of Carleton’s Health and Wellness Equity Research Group

  • “I owe Francine my complete gratitude for her influence on many of my lifechanging experiences while at Carleton. Working with Francine has inspired me to explore a career in community-based health research, which I would never have previously considered.”
  • “She is the most equity-focused professor I have encountered at Carleton, and she is both understanding and respectful of my limitations while encouraging my autonomy to make decisions about what I am and am not able to handle at any given time. This is exceedingly rare.”
  • “Darroch takes a person-centric approach to mentorship, allowing students to carve out projects and engage in opportunities based on their academic, professional, and personal goals. Although she often supervises upwards of 10 students at a time, she somehow remembers everyone’s individual interests and ambitions, finding ways to support their unique academic and professional endeavours.”

Nafiseh Kahani, Assistant Professor in Systems and Computer Engineering

  • “Kahani exemplifies the embodiment of an outstanding supervisor. She possesses a unique ability to connect with each individual—understanding their specific needs and aspirations.”
  • “What sets Dr. Kahani apart is not only her dedication to guiding my research but also her keen interest in incorporating innovative technologies. Dr. Kahani’s commitment to staying abreast of technological advancements has greatly enriched my research experience, providing a unique blend of traditional guidance and modern tools.”
  • “Her mentorship style was empowering. She encouraged me to explore problems and formulate solutions independently, fostering a robust learning environment crucial for a budding researcher. This autonomy did not come at the expense of her support. Dr. Kahani was always available to provide insightful guidance, answer questions and offer solutions when needed.”

Isaac Otchere, Professor of Finance

  • “Professor Otchere’s exceptional mentorship and genuine concern for my well-being have been the catalysts that allowed me to overcome adversity and continue my academic journey. Dr. Otchere has gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that my personal and academic needs were met. On several projects we carried out together, he worked closely with me to create a flexible schedule that accommodated my family responsibilities, allowing me to strike a balance between caregiving and my academic pursuits. Moreover, he actively sought out resources to alleviate my financial burdens, ensuring that my educational journey could continue without being hindered by monetary concerns.”
  • “His mentoring style is a blend of encouragement and constructive criticism, which fosters an environment where students are not afraid to explore unconventional ideas and challenge the status quo. This guidance has been pivotal in my academic and professional growth.”
  • “As a seasoned academic, he possesses a profound knowledge of his field, which he imparts to his students with enthusiasm and clarity. His lectures are not just informative but also inspirational, igniting a passion for research and learning in all of his students.”




Winners of the 2022-2023 FGMAs

  • Mojtaba Ahmadi – Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Edana Cassol –  Health Sciences
  • Adelle Forth – Psychology
  • Jason Jaskolka – Systems and Computer Engineering
  • Luciara Nardon – International Business
  • Alex Wilner – International Affairs


Winners of the 2021-22 FGMAs

  • Linda Duxbury – Sprott School of Business
  • Martin Holcik – Health Sciences
  • Minjoon Lee – Economics
  • Robyn McQuaid – Neuroscience
  • Justin Paulson – Sociology & Anthropology
  • Omair Shafiq – Information Technology
  • Benjamin Woo – Journalism & Communication
  • Winnie Ye – Electronics



Winners of the 2020-21 FGMAs

  • Onita Basu – Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Shelley Brown – Psychology
  • Jennifer Bruin – Biology
  • Mark Forbes – Biology
  • Heath MacMillan – Biology
  • Alexis Shotwell – Sociology & Anthropology
  • Robert Teather – Information Technology


Winners of the 2019-20 FGMAs

Mentoring award winners 2019-20

  • Kyle Biggar – Biology
  • Susan Braedley – Social Work
  • Janna Fox – Linguistics and Language Studies
  • Audrey Girouard – Information Technology
  • Julie Murray – English Language and Literature
  • Brian Schmidt – Political Science
  • Dale Spencer – Law and Legal Studies

Winners of the 2018-19 FGMAs

  • Ali Arya – Information Technology
  • Robert Biddle – Computer Science
  • Marie-Eve Carrier-Moisan – Sociology & Anthropology
  • Shulabh Gupta – Electronics
  • Merlyna Lim – Journalism & Communication
  • Ashraf Matrawy – Information Technology
  • Marina Milyavskaya – Psychology

Winners of the 2017-2018 FGMAs

  • James R. Green – Systems and Computer Engineering
  • Irena Knezevic – Communication
  • Jeremy Laliberte – Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Sreeraman Rajan – Systems and Computer Engineering
  • Susan Whitney – History
  • Alex Wong – Biology
  • Jayne Yack – Biology

Winners of the 2016 FGMAs

  • Adrian Chan – Systems and Computer Engineering
  • Sonia Chiasson – Computer Science
  • Ian Marsland – Systems and Computer Engineering
  • Janet Siltanen – Sociology
  • Myron Smith – Biology
  • Dwayne Winseck – Communication
  • Michael Wohl – Psychology

Winners of the 2015 FGMAs

  • Natasha Artemeva – Linguistics and Applied Language
  • Patricia Ballamingie – Geography and Environmental Studies
  • Cheryl Harasymchuk – Psychology
  • Andrea Howard – Psychology
  • Hans-Martin Jaeger – Political Science
  • Carol Payne – Art History
  • Owen Rowland – Biology
  • Jaffer Sheyholislami – Linguistics and Applied Language

Winners of the 2014 FGMAs

  • Robert Coplan – Psychology
  • Maria DeRosa – Chemistry
  • Adelle Forth – Psychology
  • Gerald Grant – Sprott School of Business
  • James Opp – History
  • Cristina Rojas – Political Science, NPSIA
  • Marc St-Hilaire – Information Technology
  • Garry Tarr – Electronics
  • Sarah Todd – Social Work
  • David Wood – Linguistics and Language Studies

Winners of the 2013 FGMAs

  • Jit Bose – Computer Science
  • Steven Cooke – Biology
  • Matthew Holahan – Neuroscience
  • Deepthi Kamawar – Cognitive Science and Psychology
  • Evangelos Kranakis – Computer Science
  • Evelyn Maeder – Criminology and Psychology
  • Isaac Otchere – Business
  • Joanna Pozzulo – Psychology
  • Paul Van Geel – Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Paul Van Oorschot – Computer Science

Winners of the 2012 FGMAs

  • Hymie Anisman –Neuroscience and Health Psychology, Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience
  • Andrew Brook – Philosophy and Cognitive Science
  • Aaron Doyle – Sociology & Anthropology, the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice & the Institute of Political Economy
  • Linda Duxbury – Sprott School of Business
  • Lenore Fahrig – Biology
  • Matthew Johnson – Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering & Canada Research Chair in Energy and Combustion Generated Air Emissions
  • Nicolas Papadopoulos – Sprott School of Business
  • Timothy Pychyl – Psychology and the School of Linguistics and Language Studies
  • Claire Samson – Earth Sciences
  • Gabriel Wainer – Systems and Computer Engineering

Winners of the 2011 FGMAs

  • Alfonso Abizaid – Neuroscience
  • Susan Bertram – Biology and  Assistant Dean, Faculty of Science
  • Amir Banihashemi – Systems and Computer Science
  • Lorraine Dyke – Sprott School of Business
  • Uma Kumar – Sprott School of Business & Director, Research Center for Technology Management
  • Jo-Anne LeFevre – Director, Institute of Cognitive Science
  • Banu Örmeci – Canada Research Chair in Wastewater and Public Health Engineering & Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • David Rogers – Canada Research Chair in Medical Physics & Professor, Department of Physics
  • Roland Thomas – Sprott School of Business
  • Bill Willmore – Institute of Biochemistry, Departments of Biology and Chemistry

Winners of the Inaugural 2010 Faculty of Graduate Mentoring Awards

  • Sue Aitken – Biology and Institute of Biochemistry
  • Craig Bennell –  Psychology
  • Josh Greenberg – Journalism & Communication
  • Sheryl  Hamilton – Journalism & Communication
  • Louise A.  Heslop –  Sprott School of Business
  • Norman Hillmer – History
  • Vinod   Kumar – Sprott School of Business
  • Thomas Kunz – Systems and Computer Engineering
  • Ken Storey –  Biology, Department of Chemistry and Institute of Biochemistry
  • Halim Yanikomeroglu – Systems and Computer Engineering