By McGill Reporter Staff
Faculty members Wendy Thomson and Nathalie Tufenkji are two of the 12 laureates of the Women of Distinction Awards as recently announced by the YWCA Montreal, its Foundation and the BMO Financial Group. Thomson, the Director of the School of Social Work, was named winner in the Education category while Tufenkji,the Canada Research Chair in Biocolloids and Surfaces and the Associate Director of the Brace Center for Water Resources Management, won in the Science and Technology category. Now in its 21st year, the Women of Distinction Awards serve to highlight women’s outstanding contributions, provide inspiring role models, promote women’s leadership and recognize commitment.
Thomson began her career working at N.D.G.’s venerable Head and Hands youth services centre before moving to the UK to complete her PhD. Holding various senior positions in local government there, Thomson was recruited by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to establish the Office of Public Service Reform, where she took a leadership role in the government’s reform of health, education and local services.
On top of her role as Director of the School of Social Work, Thomson has served as one of three Commissioners on the Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare, producing far-reaching changes to the child welfare system in Ontario.
In its press release, the YWCA praised Thomson for her unwavering devotion to public service. “Over her 30 year career, she has been devoted to putting service users – patients, students, clients – at the heart of public services. Driven by this commitment, she has played a key role in improving health, education and local government services in the UK, Canada, and internationally.”
Tufenkji graduated from Yale University in 2005 with a master’s degree and PhD, becoming one of only two women to earn Yale’s prestigious Becton Prize for best PhD in engineering and applied sciences. Tufenkji also received the American Water Works Association Academic Achievement Award for best PhD dissertation.
Tufenkji’s research has significantly contributed to advances in safe drinking water through the creation of a filtration model for use worldwide. Her research has also provided tools to help water monitoring and regulatory bodies adequately manage the water supply and reduce public health risks. Moreover, Tufenkji’s work focuses on how natural resources can be used to improve human health.
In it’s press release, the YWCA said that Tufenkji’s body of work, “has positioned Canada at the forefront of research that combines public health and environmental protection.”
The 21st Women of Distinction Awards will take place on September 30, at the Palais des congrès de Montréal. To get more details about the awards, go here.