Aberdeen students awarded for their academic achievements

Aberdeen students awarded for their academic achievements

Three students from the University of Aberdeen are this year’s successful winners of the 2006/07 City of Aberdeen Quincentenary Awards and will be awarded with their medals and prizes at a ceremony being held at the Town House later today (Tuesday, June 5).

This annual award has been established to honour and recognise the efforts and talents of students, while marking the University's 500th anniversary. 

Two students from the College of Physical Sciences and one from the College of Arts and Social Sciences are among this year's recipients. Hoda Ghodsi, Witold Slowinksi and Carole Anne Findlay, have all performed exceptionally throughout their studies at the University.

Hoda Ghodsi is a final year student in Physics and was also the recipient of a Nuffield Undergraduate research bursary in 2006. This allowed her to work over the summer months with Dr Geoff Dunn, a Lecturer in Theoretical Physics at the University on the mathematical modelling of asteroid impacts on Earth.  Dr Dunn has described her work as "outstanding".  Hoda is now going on to study for a PhD in theoretical astrophysics at the University of Glasgow.

Dr Jan Skakle, Head of Physics, commended Hoda for her award.  She said: "I have known Hoda since she was in 2nd year and her academic record is quite outstanding. I have always been impressed by her focus, dedication and ability and she is quite simply an outstanding student of Physics. 

"All of her marks have been in the top rank, thus gaining first class merits in every course to date.  She continually demonstrates an ability to pick up new techniques and concepts very quickly.  Her progress in her honours project has been nothing less than spectacular."

Speaking ahead of this afternoon's ceremony, Hoda said: "I certainly did not expect to be nominated for this award by the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences and I'm enormously grateful to the Head of School of Physics in particular for this. This award will indeed be a huge encouragement towards my future postgraduate studies."

Witold Slowinski is a 3rd year Computing student and moved to Aberdeen from Zabrze after completing his Matura to study for an MA in Computing.  He gained direct entry to level 2 of the degree programme in 2005. 

Dr Tim Norman, Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Computing Science, nominated Witold and said: "During his time at the University, Witold has demonstrated excellent abilities in both Computing and Mathematics, a real enthusiasm for Computing Science and an entrepreneurial spirit.  His intellectual abilities have been recognised through the award of two British Computer Society sponsored prizes (best level 2 student and the best robotics project) and one prize in Mathematics (Brimmell's Prize in Mathematics) which were all awarded in May 2006.

"Witold's entrepreneurial spirit has been recognised by the Shell Technology Enterprise Programme (STEP), for which he was chosen as the overall winner in September 2006 by a panel of judges and put forward for a further, Scotland-wide competition.

"He is a strong candidate for the City of Aberdeen Quincentenary Medals and Prizes on the basis of academic merit and personal qualities and I highly recommend him for an award.  I would also like to wish him every success for the future."

Carole Anne Findlay is a 4th year History of Art student.  She left Harlaw Academy in 1976 before working for two years in administration.  She got married at the age of 19 and left Shell in 1981 to have her first child.  She has three sons in their 20s and has not worked in full-time employment since having her children.

Eventually the time came for her to think about achieving something outwith the home, and she began by excelling in the University's Access course. Speaking ahead of this afternoon's ceremony, Carole said: "My husband has been of huge support.  However, I have found the biggest challenge to be the juggling act I perform daily between studying, running a busy household and being attentive to my elderly parents.  My husband and family are proud of my achievements but the biggest thrill has been the personal discovery that I have a very good brain!"

She has now been accepted on a teacher training course to achieve her life's ambition, to become a primary school teacher.

Dr Jane Geddes, Senior Lecturer, School of Divinity, History and Philosophy, and History of Art, commended Carole's achievements and nominated her for an award. She said: "For years Carole has wanted to be a school teacher and it has taken a long journey to get there, in the process developing her confidence as an individual. The University of Aberdeen will have contributed an important addition to the teaching profession of the North-East, just as Bishop Elphinstone intended.

"I am truly delighted that her research and the effort she has put in to her studies are being recognised with such a prominent award. Her story is one of finally recognising just how much she has to offer academically, backed by the support of her family and teaching staff."

To become eligible for the Quincentennial Prize, students are nominated by their Heads of Schools within the University. Two prizes are awarded annually, one in the Humanities including Arts, Social Sciences, Divinity, Education and Law and one in Sciences, including Engineering and Medicine with a third prize being awarded at the discretion of the University. These are awarded on the basis of academic merit, personal qualities and needs.

Each of the three winners will receive a medal and a £1,000 cash prize. All three students will be attending this afternoon's Reception.  Professor Bryan MacGregor, Vice Principal and Head of the College of Arts and Social Sciences; Professor Albert Rodger, Vice Principal and Head of the College of Physical Sciences will also be attending this afternoon's event.

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