William Shatner, Brenda Milner, Leonard Cohen, Joanne Liu
From left to right: William Shatner, Dr. Brenda Milner, Leonard Cohen, Dr. Joanne Liu

Notable alumni

They live in some 180 countries. Their ranks include world leaders, astronauts, Nobel laureates—and  a host of trailblazers in arts, sciences, business and public service. Whatever their passion, wherever their home, McGill’s 275,000 living alumni are using their education and experiences to making a difference in the world. They’re improving lives through their groundbreaking medical discoveries, plumbing the human condition in thought-provoking art and driving the economy with their business acumen. Explore this sampling of McGill’s distinguished graduates:

Arts and media

On this page:
Television and Radio | Online Media and Gaming | Newspaper and Magazines | Film | Literature | Art and Architecture | Music


Television and Radio

  • Actress Mackenzie Davis, BA’10, plays a gifted software developer in the AMC series Halt and Catch Fire. She also appeared in The Martian and will be part of the cast for the upcoming sequel to Blade Runner.
  • Best known for his starring role as Captain James T. Kirk in the television show Star Trek, William Shatner, BCom’52, DLitt’11, earned back-to-back Emmy Awards for his portrayal of eccentric attorney Denny Crane on the television series’ The Practice and Boston Legal. Shatner is the only actor to ever win consecutive Emmy awards for playing the same character on two different shows.
  • Gail Simmons, BA’98, is a culinary expert and food writer known to millions of TV viewers for her work as a judge on the Emmy Award-winning Top Chef.
  • Ziya Tong, MA'99, co-hosts the Discovery Channel's Daily Planet.
  • Broadcaster and writer Eleanor Wachtel, BA’69, DLitt’09, is widely respected in the literary world for her work as the host of Writers & Company on CBC Radio One

Media and Gaming

  • Alan Emtage, BSc’87, MSc’91, created Archie, the first Internet search engine which, at one time, attracted half the web traffic in Canada.
  • Elizabeth Plank, BA’10, is a senior producer and video correspondent with Vox.com. Previously, as a senior correspondent for Mic, she created the award-winning weekly video series Flip the Script, which attracted 43 million views in in its first season.
  • Jade Raymond, BSc’98, is the founder of Electronic Arts' Motive Studios in Montreal and the former managing director of Ubisoft Toronto.

Newspapers and Magazines

  • Suroosh Alvi, BA’91, is the co-founder of Vice, a brash, street culture-focused publication that has evolved from its Montreal-based roots into an international media conglomerate focusing on music, TV production and fashion.
  • A staff writer and essayist at The New Yorker since 1986, Adam Gopnik, BA’80, is the author of such best-selling books as Paris to the Moon and Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York.
  • Winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary, Charles Krauthammer, BA'70, DLitt’93, is a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post and frequently contributes to Time, The Weekly Standard and The New Republic.
  • A co-founder and former head of Citytv, Moses Znaimer, BA’63, is the founder and CEO of ZoomerMedia Limited and the publisher of Zoomer Magazine.
  • Mortimer Zuckerman, BA’57, BCL’61, LLD’11, is the co-founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Boston Properties, a real estate investment trust (REIT). He is also the editor-in-chief and publisher of U.S. News & World Report and the publisher of the New York Daily News.

Film

  • Together with his scriptwriting partner Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, BA’05, has written the screenplays of such films as Superbad, Pineapple Express, and This is the End.
  • Nancy Grant, BA’06, is a film producer who frequently collaborates with director Xavier Dolan. Their film Mommy swept both the Canadian Screen Awards and the Quebec Jutra Awards in 2015 and received the César (the French equivalent of the Oscar) as best foreign film.
  • Robert Lantos, BA’70, DLitt’00, has produced some of Canada's most critically-acclaimed films, including David Cronenberg’s Crash and Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter.
  • Joe Medjuck, BA’65, is a successful Hollywood producer whose credits include Old School, Up in the Air, Hitchcock and Ghostbusters II.
  • Edward Saxon, BA’82, is the Oscar-winning producer of such films as The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia and Adaptation.
  • Jennifer Baichwal, BA'90, MA'96, is an award-winning documentary filmmaker of such films as Manufactured Landscapes and Watermark.

Literature

  • David Bezmozgis, BA’96, earned widespread acclaim for his first book, Natasha and Other Stories, winning the Commonwealth First Book Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Danuta Gleed Literary Award for best first collection of short stories in the English language. His books The Free World (2011) and The Betrayers (2014) were both shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
  • Dominique Fortier, PhD’03, was the 2016 winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for French fiction for Au péril de la mer.
  • Sean Michaels, BA’04, is a novelist and the founder of Said the Gramophone, an influential music blog.. His debut novel, Us Conductors, won the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize and was shortlisted for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award.
  • Heather O’Neill, BA’94, is a novelist and short story writer whose novels have been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award, the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Orange Prize for Fiction. Her first novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals, won the CBC Canada Reads competition in 2007.

Art and Architecture

  • Internationally celebrated Canadian architect Arthur Erickson, BArch’50, LLD’75, was the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions for his innovative designs. His works include such buildings and complexes as Robson Square in Vancouver, BC, the Canadian Chancery in Washington, DC, and the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA.
  • Marc Mayer, BA'84, is an art curator and director of the National Gallery of Canada.
  • Architect Raymond Moriyama, MArch’57, has received widespread acclaim for his work, which includes the Ontario Science Centre (1964), the Bata Shoe Museum (1991), the National Museum of Saudi Arabia (1999), and the Canadian War Museum (2005).
  • The visionary architect behind Montreal's “Habitat” for Expo 67, Moshe Safdie, BArch’61, LLD’82, has designed some of Canada's best-known buildings, including the National Gallery of Canada, Vancouver's Library Square and the rebuild of Toronto's Pearson Airport.

Music

  • Darcy James Argue, BMus’97, is the composer and conductor for the Secret Society, an innovative New York-based 18-piece jazz band that has earned Grammy and Juno nominations for their albums.
  • With 70 Top 40 hits in the US and 52 Top 40 hits in the UK, Burt Bacharach, Dip AMus’48, DMus’72, is one of the most important composers of popular music of the twentieth century. His songs have been performed by artists like Aretha Franklin, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield, Luther Vandross, Dionne Warwick, Elvis Costello, Rufus Wainwright and Dr. Dre.
  • Juno-winner Win Butler, BA’04, is the co-founder and lead singer for Arcade Fire. The band’s first album, Funeral, was named one of 2004's best releases by The New York Times and Rolling Stone Magazine. Their album, The Suburbs, won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year and the Polaris Music Prize.
  • Acclaimed novelist, poet, singer and songwriter, Leonard Cohen, BA’55, DLitt’92, was one of the most widely recognized Canadian artists of the late twentieth century. He was awarded the Companion of the Order of Canada in 2003, Canada’s highest civilian honour, and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.
  • Christine Jensen, BMus’94, MMus’06, is a jazz saxophonist and composer and the leader of the Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra. The group has won two Juno Awards for Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year.
  • Richard King, MMus’91, an associate professor with the Schulich School of Music’s Sound Recording Program, is one of the most in-demand recording engineers in the world of classical music. His Grammy Award-winning work has included collaborations with such performers as Yo-Yo Ma and Renée Fleming.
  • Sam Roberts, BA’98, is a Juno award-winning musician whose 2002 debut CD, The Inhuman Condition, is one of the bestselling independent releases in Quebec and Canadian music history.
  • With more than 60 recordings to his name, classical music singer Daniel Taylor, LMus’92, is one of the most sought-after countertenors in the world today.

Sciences

On this page:
Nobel Prize winners | Astronauts | Trailblazers


Nobel Prize winners

  • Willard Boyle BSc'47, MSc'48 and PhD'50 received the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics, an honour that he shared with his Bell Laboratories collaborators George E. Smith and Charles K. Kao. The Prize was awarded for the 1969 invention of the charged-couple device (CCD), a semiconductor circuit capable of sensing light and images and the core technology behind the digital photography revolution. 
  • Val Fitch, BEng'48, DSc'87, an American nuclear physicist, was co-recipient of the 1980 Nobel Prize in Physics for a 1964 experiment that disproved the long-held theory that particle interaction should be indifferent to the direction of time.  
  • David Hubel, BSc'47, MDCM'51, was co-recipient of the 1981 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his groundbreaking work on visual perception.
  • Rudolph Marcus, BSc'43, PhD'46, received the 1992 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his theory of electron transfer.
  • Endocrinologist Andrew Victor Schally, BSc'55, PhD'59, DSc'79, was the co-recipient of the 1977 Nobel Prize for Medicine for his research on hormones.
  • Ralph Steinman, BSc'63, co-recipient of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work in immunology and discovery of the key role dendritic cells play in immune processes 
  • Jack W. Szostak, BSc'72, was co-recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering how the body protects the chromosomes housing vital genetic code.
  • John O’Keefe, PhD'67, was named co-winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in medicine. Cell research by O’Keefe and a pair of Norwegian scientists has led to the discovery of the brain’s positioning system, answering the centuries-old question of how we navigate the space around us.

Astronauts

  • Chief Astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency from 2000 to 2007, Julie Payette, BEng'86, DSc’03, is the second Canadian woman to have flown in space and the first to board the International Space Station.
  • David Saint-Jacques, MedResident’07, will be the next Canadian astronaut to take part in a space mission. He is scheduled to begin a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station in November, 2018.
  • Engineer and physician Robert Thirsk, MDCM'82, is a former Canadian Space Agency astronaut who holds the Canadian records for the longest space flight and the most time spent in space. On May 9, 2014, it was announced that he was elected the University of Calgary’s 13th Chancellor.
  • A specialist in emergency medicine, Dave Williams, BSc'76, MSc'83, MDCM'83, DSc’07, was the seventh Canadian to go into space and set the Canadian record for total number of spacewalks. He was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2013.

Trailblazers

  • Bernard Belleau, PhD'50, contributed to the development of Lamivudine, a drug used in the treatment of HIV and Hepatitis B infection. Belleau was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1981.
  • Tim Bliss, BSc’62, PhD’67, is a British neuroscientist whose research has explored the life-long plasticity of the brain. He was a co-recipient of the 2016 Brain Prize, the world’s most valuable award for brain research.
  • In 1957, while still an undergraduate at McGill, Thomas Chang, BSc'57, MDCM'61, PhD'65, invented the world's first artificial cell. Currently the Director of the Artificial Cells and Organs Research Centre at McGill, Chang was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1991.
  • Charles R. Drew, MDCM'33, was an American medical pioneer who acted as an advisor for the Blood for Britain program of World War II. He researched blood transfusions extensively and aided in the development of large-scale blood banks.
  • Philip Gold, BSc'57, MSc'57, PhD'65, helped discover and define the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), which is used in the diagnosis and management of cancer patients. He has received the Companion of the Order of Canada and was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2010.
  • Colin MacLeod, MDCM'32, was part of the scientific team that first identified DNA as the hereditary material in genes.
  • Brenda Milner, PhD’52, DSc’91, is the Dorothy Killam Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at the Montreal Neurological Institute. A pioneer in the field of cognitive neuroscience, her research demonstrated that the human brain has multiple memory systems that govern different functions.
  • A renowned physician and medical historian, Sir William Osler, MDCM1872, LLD1895, was one of the first in the profession to emphasize the role of bedside teaching in the instruction of medical students. In 1889 he was appointed as the first physician-in-chief of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, becoming one of the school's first professors in medicine.
  • Canadian astrophysicist Hubert Reeves, MSc'55, is a leading expert on the Big Bang theory and a well-known popularizer of science. He received the Companion of the Order of Canada in 2003.

Public service

On this page:
Canadian Prime Ministers | Political Leaders | Judges and Public Servants | Activists and Advocates | University Presidents


Wilfrid Laurier, Canada's 7th Prime MinisterCanadian Prime Ministers

  • Sir John Abbott, BCL1854, was the third Prime Minister of Canada (1891-1892). He also served as the Mayor of Montreal from 1887 to 1888.
  • A legendary orator and master of political compromise, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, BCL1864, was Canada's seventh Prime Minister (1896-1911).
  • Justin Trudeau, BA’94, became Canada’s 23rd prime minister in 2015 after steering the Liberals to a majority victory in his first election as the party’s leader. The Liberals won 150 more parliamentary seats than they had in the previous election.

Political Leaders

  • Jim Carr, BA’79, is Canada’s minister of natural resources. He was the founding CEO of the Business Council of Manitoba and is a former deputy leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party.
  • Brian Gallant, LLM’11, is the premier of New Brunswick.
  • Carlos Leitao, BA’79, is Quebec’s finance minister.
  • Catherine McKenna, LLB’99, is Canada’s minister of environment and climate change. She was the executive director and co-founder of Canadian Lawyers Abroad and a legal adviser with the UN peacekeeping mission in East Timor.
  • Vaira Vîke-Freiberga, PhD'65, DSc’02, served as president of the Republic of Latvia from 1999-2007, becoming the first woman to hold such a post in Eastern Europe. She is President of the World Leadership Alliance Club of Madrid.

Judges and Public Servants

  • Justice Clément Gascon, BCL’81, was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2014.
  • Suzanne Legault, BCL’88, LLB’88, is Canada’s information commissioner.

Activists and Advocates

  • Maria Eitel, BA’84, is the founding CEO and president of the Nike Foundation and the driving force behind its The Girl Effect, an initiative aimed at improving the lives of girls around the world who live in poverty.
  • In 1948, John Humphrey, BCom'25, BA'27, BCL'29, PhD'45, LLD'76, was a young law professor on leave from McGill. It was during this time away that he wrote the first draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Joanne Liu, MDCM'91, IMHL'14, is the international president of Médecins Sans Frontières, a non-governmental organization that supplies emergency medical aid and experts to war-torn regions and countries in crisis. In 2015, Fortune magazine named her as one of the world’s great leaders, while Time included her on its list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
  • A pioneering social activist, Madeleine Parent, BA'40, LLD'02, played a key role in the textile strikes in 1940s Quebec and in establishing Canadian unions. She was a founding member of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, where she represented Quebec for eight years.

University Presidents

  • Suzanne Fortier, BSc’72, PhD’76, is the principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University. She was the president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) from 2006 to 2013. In 2016, she was appointed to the Canadian Federal Minister of Finance’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth as well as the World Economic Forum’s Global University Leaders Forum (GULF).
  • Santa Ono, PhD’91, is the president of the University of British Columbia and a medical researcher whose work focuses on the immune system and eye disease. He served as the president of the University of Cincinnati from 2012 to 2016.
  • Marc Tessier-Lavigne, BSc’80, DSc’11, is a neuroscientist and the president of Stanford University. He was the president of Rockefeller University from 2011 to 2016.
  • Stephen Toope, BCL’82, LLB’83, is the director of the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs and will become the University of Cambridge’s vice-chancellor in October, 2018. An expert on human rights law, he is a former president of the University of British Columbia, a former president of the Trudeau Foundation and a former dean of law at McGill.

Business and industry

  • Alain Bellemare, MBA'93, is currently president and CEO at Bombardier Inc.
  • Bertrand Cesvet, BA’86, MBA’90, is chairman and senior partner at the award-winning creative services firm Sid Lee. He is also the co-founder of the C2 Montréal business conference, which focuses on creativity and commerce by bringing some of the world’s most innovative thought leaders to Montreal each year.
  • George Garvin Brown, BA’91, is the chairman of the Brown-Forman Corporation, one of the largest spirits companies in the world. Its brands include Jack Daniels, Finlandia Vodkas and Southern Comfort.
  • François-Jean Coutu, BCom’76, is the president and CEO of the Jean Coutu Group, which operates a network of more than 400 pharmacies in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick.
  • Paul Desmarais, Jr., BCom'77, is the Chairman and Co-CEO of Power Corporation of Canada.
  • Darren Entwistle, MBA'88, is the president and CEO of Telus Corporation.
  • Mitch Garber, BA’86, is the CEO of Caesars Interactive Entertainment, one of the world’s largest online gaming companies. He is also the CEO of the Caesars Acquisition Company, which oversees legendary hotel-casinos like Bally’s and Planet Hollywood, and events like the World Series of Poker. He is one of the “dragons” on Dans l’oeil du dragon, the French version of Dragon’s Den, and chairs the board of directors for the Cirque du Soleil.
  • Luc Jobin, DPA’82, is the president and CEO of CN Rail, which operates the largest rail network in Canada and the only transcontinental network in North America.
  • Rhodes Scholar John McCall MacBain, BA'81, founded Trader Classified Media and served as its president and CEO until 2006. Under his leadership, it has become one of the world's largest classified advertising companies. He is a founder of the McCall MacBain Foundation and of the European Climate Foundation.
  • Brad Martin, BA’77, is the president and CEO of Penguin Random House Canada, the country’s largest publisher.
  • McGill University professor Henry Mintzberg, BEng'61, is an acclaimed management thinker, author and iconoclast, who has advised some of the world's largest corporations. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1997.
  • Hicham Ratnani, BEng’08, is the co-founder and chief operating officer for Frank & Oak, an online clothing shop for men that was named one of the world's most innovative retail companies in 2015 by Fast Company.
  • Shannon Rogers, BCL’96, LLB’96, is the president and general counsel of digital-message archiving firm Global Relay Communications, whose clients include 22 of the world’s 25 largest banks. She has been named Canada’s top female entrepreneur three times by Châtelaine and Profit magazines.
  • Lawrence Rossy, BA’65, is the founder and CEO of Dollarama, the leading dollar store operator in Canada with more than 1,000 locations across the country. He and his wife Cookie played an instrumental role in the creation of McGill’s Rossy Cancer Network.
  • Seymour Schulich, BSc'61, MBA'65, DLitt’04, is a leading Canadian philanthropist and entrepreneur. He was made an Officer of Order of Canada in 2012.
  • Andrea Stairs, BA’96, is the managing director of eBay Canada and oversees the online retail giant’s operations in Canada.
  • Lorne Trottier, BEng'70, MEng'73, DSc’06, is an engineer, businessman and philanthropist. He is the co-founder of Matrox Electronic Systems Ltd.
  • Les Vadasz, BEng'61, DSc’07, is one of the founding members of Intel Corporation, where he served as executive vice-president until 2003. He is currently a Director at eSionic Corp.

Sports

  • Hockey coach Mike BabcockToronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock, BEd'86, is a member of the exclusive Triple Gold Club, having won Olympic Gold (2014 & 2010), the Stanley Cup (2008), and the World Championship (2004). He also led Team Canada to a gold medal at the 1997 World Junior Championships and the World Cup of Hockey championship in 2016.
  • Guy Boucher, BA’95, is the coach of the Ottawa Senators and a former coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
  • Hockey player Ken Dryden, LLB'73, won six Stanley Cups in just eight seasons (1971-1979) as the goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens. He is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the International Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame.
  • James Naismith, BA1888, invented basketball in 1891 while teaching at Springfield College in Massachusetts. He also introduced the first football helmet.
  • McGill Chancellor emeritus Dick Pound, BCom'62, BCL'67, LLD’09, has been part of the Olympic movement for more than 40 years. He has participated as an athlete, an advocate, as the Vice-President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), as a former Chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency and as Chairman of the Olympic Broadcasting Services. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and an Officer of the National Order of Quebec.