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Two master's students honoured for thesis excellence

Daniela Navia and Michael Himmelfarb receive awards in 'unprecedented' double win
May 9, 2017
Marlene Coles, associate director at ProQuest, with Daniela Navia and her research collaborator, Tia Ledesma. Photos courtesy University of Washington Graduate School

Marlene Coles, associate director at ProQuest, with Daniela Navia and her research collaborator, Tia Ledesma. Photos courtesy University of Washington Graduate School

Marlene Coles of ProQuest with Michael Himmelfarb.

Marlene Coles of ProQuest with Michael Himmelfarb.

In an unprecedented honour, two University of Calgary graduates received top accolades at the annual Western Association of Graduate Schools (WAGS) conference in Seattle.

Michael Himmelfarb and Daniela Navia won the WAGS/ProQuest Distinguished Master’s Thesis Awards in the STEM and non-STEM categories respectively — a first for the university.

Anthropology graduate and Chancellor’s Gold Medal winner Navia worked with Saulesh Yessenova on her winning master’s thesis, “Uncovering Colonial Legacies: Voices of Indigenous Youth in Child Welfare (dis)Placements.” Navia’s work seeks to understand how colonialism shapes the experiences of Indigenous youth, and has since become the subject of a documentary. Navia is now working as a research consultant in the arts sector with the Government of Alberta.

A graduate of the Schulich electrical engineering MSc program, Himmelfarb won for his thesis on “Measurement of Amplifier and Mixer Noise Parameters.” His work has applications in improving signal reception in wireless devices. The research, carried out with Leonid Belostotski, has far-reaching implications for the Internet of Things. Himmelfarb is now putting his degree to work with NovAtel, a Calgary-based GPS tech company.

“Having our graduates win in both categories is nothing short of astonishing. The Western Association of Graduate Schools includes many of the best universities from across western Canada, the western United States and Mexico,” says Lisa Young, vice-provost and dean of graduate studies. “To win in such elite company is a testament to the originality and significance of our students’ research, and to the quality of our graduate instruction.”

The Western Association of Graduate Schools comprises more than 90 member institutions offering master’s and doctoral degrees in the western United States, Canada and Mexico. Each year, WAGS and ProQuest offer the WAGS/ProQuest Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award in two categories: Outstanding Thesis Non-STEM Award, and Outstanding Thesis STEM Award.

Through active partnerships with more than 700 universities, ProQuest disseminates and archives of more than 90,000 new graduate works each year.