Associate Professor Sarah Burke from the University of British Columbia’s Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute (Blusson QMI), the School of Physics and Astronomy, and the School of Chemistry, has been awarded a 2022 Killam Award for Excellence in Mentoring. This award recognizes outstanding mentorship of numerous graduate students over many years.

“The Killam Award for Excellence in Mentoring holds special value to me as a recognition for my efforts to support the development of graduate trainees and create a productive and safe environment where they can grow,” said Dr. Burke. “This is something that holds intrinsic value for me, but it is wonderful to be recognized for it.”

Image: Oct 6, 2015 – Dr. Sarah Burke, PhD student Katherine Cochrane and Master’s student Tanya Roussy fine-tune equipment in UBC’s Laboratory for Atomic Imaging Research.

A Professor in Physics and Chemistry, Burke provides constant opportunities to hone essential skills in areas such as critical thinking, public speaking, and grant writing while tailoring her mentoring approach to each student’s evolving needs and career aspirations.

“As graduate mentors, we are so privileged to work with a diverse, bright, and highly motivated group of people. Recognizing that learning goes both ways in a graduate mentoring relationship brings both excellence to my research program, and joy to the work,” Dr. Burke said.

As co-creator of the Quantum Electronic Science & Technology Program, Dr. Burke has been pivotal in developing and supporting graduate students with workshops, scholarships, mentoring opportunities, and research experiences.

Dr. Burke said that having had wonderfully supportive mentors from undergraduate studies through all stages of her career has inspired her in her mentorship efforts.

“Similar to the amazing former students who wrote in their letters about me for this award, I wouldn’t be here without the support of my mentors. Like them, I seek to inspire, give freedom to both grow and fail, and support the individual dreams of trainees in my group.

“I am also inspired by the members of my group, who bring both scientific insights and personal perspectives to their work and the group dynamics. I’m grateful to my group who make creating a vibrant, curious and collaborative environment both easy and fun.”

The awards are adjudicated by a committee chaired by the Associate Dean, Funding, of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. The Killam General Endowment at the University of British Columbia (administered by the Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic) provides the funds for the awards.

Earlier this year, Blusson QMI Operations Manager, Pinder Dosanjh, was awarded President’s Service Award for Excellence (PSAE), the highest honour given to staff at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Both Sarah and Pinder will receive their awards at this year’s graduation ceremony hosted by the UBC from November 23 to 25.

Learn more about Dr. Burke’s research group here.