UBCO mathematician wins gold

Walaa Moursi captures Governor General's medal with 99 per cent GPA

  • Jun. 11, 2017 9:00 a.m.

A math whiz, who moved with her family more than 10,000 kilometers to continue her education, is UBC’s recipient of the gold 2017 Governor General Academic Medal—one of Canada’s most prestigious academic awards.

Walaa Moursi will receive her PhD in mathematics during convocation ceremonies at UBC Okanagan this week. The award is reserved for the graduate student with the highest academic achievement.

Moursi moved from Egypt, with her husband and young daughter, to pursue her studies in Canada; choosing UBC’s Okanagan campus. A keen student with a bright mind, she has been described by her PhD supervisor Professor Heinz Bauschke as one of the highest-performing students ever in UBC’s Mathematics Graduate Program.

Moursi has specialized in studying the most powerful algorithms in the field of optimization—widely used in applications such as medical imaging and data analysis. A rising star in every aspect, she has co-authored 14 published papers; two years ago, was chosen as the mathematics graduate student of the year. And last year she won UBC Okanagan’s distinguished Provost Award for Teaching Assistants and Tutors.

“Being a Governor General gold medal recipient is a great honour and an extremely prestigious recognition of my doctoral work,” says Moursi, who had a GPA of 99 per cent. “My study at UBC was a life-altering experience. I came to study Mathematics because of its beauty and while here I learned how to convert this beauty into useful tools that contribute to solving real-life problems.”

Currently she is a Pacific Institute of Mathematics postdoctoral fellow at the University of Calgary. This fall she will spend four months as a research fellow at UC Berkeley, followed by two years with a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University.

During this week’s convocation events, eight students are being recognized with gold medals for the highest academic achievement for their graduating class. Those students are:

  • University of B.C. Medal in Arts: Josef Zagrodney
  • University of B.C. Medal in Education: Sydney Hertz
  • University of B.C. Medal in Engineering: Trevor Stirling
  • University of B.C. Medal in Fine Arts: Gabriel Delaney
  • University of B.C. Medal in Human Kinetics: Taylor Jordan
  • University of B.C. Medal in Management: Damian Herman
  • University of B.C. Medal in Nursing: Elizabeth Green
  • University of B.C. Medal in Science: Matthew Basso

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