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Brian Hall, Gail O'Brien, Voon Wee Yong in convocation spotlight

Distinguished scientist, philanthropist, and research champion recognized at today's ceremonies
June 12, 2014

Honorary degree recipient Brian K. Hall.

Convocation speaker Gail O'Brien.

Order of the University of Calgary recipient Voon Wee Yong.

Order of the University of Calgary recipient Voon Wee Yong.

The honorary degree, the Doctor of Laws, is the University of Calgary’s highest academic honour bestowed on individuals whose notable achievements and community service merit recognition. Recipients on Thursday, June 12 are:

Brian K. HallMorning convocation for Science and Graduate Studies

Brian K. Hall is one of Canada’s most distinguished scientists and is widely recognized as one of the principal architects of the discipline evolutionary developmental biology (often called Evo-Devo), a thriving sub-discipline of biology. He has written extensively about the history of evolutionary biology and leading figures in the field. He and University of Calgary professor Benedikt Hallgrímsson, wrote the last two editions of the textbook Strickberger’s Evolution. In his work he has shown how important, revealing and inspiring scientific research can be. Through his unique combination of breadth and depth, combined with his ability to see the heart of complex issues, Hall is able to draw connections and point out patterns that elude others. He continually inspires and brings people together with very different backgrounds and gets them to converge on common themes.

Addressing the graduating class in the afternoon will be past honorary degree recipient, Gail O’Brien. 

Gail O’BrienAfternoon convocation for Medicine, Nursing, Science and Graduate Studies

Born in Montreal, and with a bachelor’s degree in English and fine arts from McGill University, O’Brien moved to Calgary with her husband David and three children in 1978. During that time O’Brien began her deep commitment to community involvement serving on various boards. Since her retirement, she has devoted herself full-time to the not-for-profit sector focusing largely on women, medicine and the arts in organizations across Canada. In 2005 the O’Brien Centre for the Bachelor of Health Sciences became a reality thanks to a foundational gift of $5 million from David and Gail O’Brien, a significant portion of which is endowed into the O’Brien Bachelor of Health Sciences Strategic Initiatives Fund, which includes studentship awards and funding for summer research.

Today’s Order of the University of Calgary

The Order of The University of Calgary recognizes those who have a history of distinguished service to the university. Today’s recipient is:

Voon Wee YongAfternoon for Medicine, Nursing, Science and Graduate Studies

Voon Wee Yong is a professor at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute and the Departments of Clinical Neurosciences and Oncology at the University of Calgary. He holds the Canada Research Chair in Neuroimmunology. His primary areas of specialization are multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and malignant brain tumours — three fields of intense public concern. His research has been supported by many agencies including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Yong has brought in over $25 million of research funding to the University of Calgary. As well, his spirited leadership and commitment to the Awards and Recognition Committee in the Faculty of Medicine has produced increasing numbers of external awards for the faculty.