Dec. 8, 2016

Rhodes Trust honours UCalgary professor Ken Lukowiak for mentorship and excellence in teaching

Cumming School of Medicine has two recipients for the inaugural award

Author

Aisling Gamble, Cumming School of Medicine

University of Calgary professor Ken Lukowiak, PhD, was nominated by a former student for the Rhodes Trust Inspirational Educator Award.

Lukowiak, PhD, was nominated by a former student for the Rhodes Trust Inspirational Educator Award.

University of Calgary

The Rhodes Scholarship is widely considered the most prestigious international scholarship a student can receive. University of Calgary alumnus Bogdan Knezevic knows what it means to be a recipient of the scholarship and that it takes the support and mentorship of many to attain this achievement.

Knezevic studied in UCalgary’s Bachelor of Science, Neuroscience Program, and worked in Ken Lukowiak’s lab before graduating in 2015. When the Rhodes Trust Inspirational Educator award was announced, Knezevic took the opportunity to nominate Lukowiak, PhD, an educator who inspired and influenced him during his time as a student. 

The nomination resulted in Lukowiak being named a recipient of the inaugural Rhodes Trust Inspirational Educator Award in 2016.

When he received news of the award, Lukowiak was taken aback. “I was surprised but also extremely honoured. I had no idea I was put forward for this award.” He says being recognized for his teaching means he is doing the job he is supposed to do — leading students to careers in science.

In his nomination letter to the Rhodes Trust, Knezevic said he found it difficult to summarize all that his mentor had done for him. Putting it simply, he wrote, “Professor Lukowiak has truly done a marvellous job at teaching me how to think about, engage with and navigate through the scientific world.” Lukowiak encouraged him to never put limits on himself and to challenge himself in both self and community betterment.

Bogdan Knezevic worked in Lukowiak’s lab before graduating in 2015.

Bogdan Knezevic worked in Lukowiak’s lab before graduating in 2015.

Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Knezevic describes Lukowiak as animated, passionate, knowledgeable and most importantly, invested in his students. “He worked on opening our minds to what neuroscience was; not just the concepts or the facts, but the bigger picture.”

Lukowiak speaks highly of his former student as well. In 2014, when Knezevic received his Rhodes Scholarship, Lukowiak said he has an open, inquisitive mind and an outstanding knowledge base, traits that bode well for his time at Oxford.

The Rhodes Trust describes the vision and energy of its current scholars at Oxford as showing great hope for the future through mentorship, friendship and commitment from educators such as Lukowiak and the profound influence they have on young people should not be underestimated.

Lukowiak is one of two Cumming School of Medicine recipients of the inaugural Rhodes Trust Inspirational Educator Award.  The University of Calgary’s Dr. Tom Feasby was also a recipient this year, with just 18 awards given internationally in 2016.

Ken Lukowiak is a professor in the department of physiology and pharmacology and a member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute.