Samantha Blackwell holding sparrowPresident’s Medallist Samantha Blackwell, conducting fieldwork near the Bay of Fundy, holds a savannah sparrow, the subject of her honours thesis. Photo by Sarah Dobney.

Graduand honoured for exceptional engagement

The scholarly and leadership accomplishments of Samantha Blackwell during her undergraduate career have earned her the President’s Medal, awarded to a graduating student who has made an outstanding contribution to campus activities while maintaining a superior academic record.

Blackwell earned a cumulative average of 95 per cent and a major average of 98 per cent in her studies toward an honours baccalaureate in biological sciences, while helping her peers and the community through these additional activities:

  • holding three Outstanding Scholars research positions in two different labs in the Department of Integrative Biology, paving the way for other students to get involved through her mentorship with the program;
  • working as a teaching assistant for the first-year biology class;
  • serving as the president of the Ornithology Club, actively leading peers and professors through a series of bird-related activities on- and off-campus;
  • participating in two semesters abroad, first in France and then in Wales, later volunteering with the exchange office to help orient new students joining study abroad programs;
  • publishing a first-authored paper on the topic of male forcep size in European earwigs in the journal PCI Zoology;
  • conducting field research as part of a collaborative team studying sparrows in the Bay of Fundy, and writing her honours thesis on the topic of acoustic variation in the songs of savannah sparrows.

Professor Dan Mennill, who nominated Blackwell for the award, credits her as “a student leader, a role model, and an inspirational peer.”

She will be honoured during the third session of Convocation, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 4.

In September, Blackwell will join the University of British Columbia to begin graduate studies with the support of a postgraduate scholarship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.