Distinguished Alumni Awards

The Macdonald Distinguished Alumni Award was created by the Macdonald Branch of the McGill Alumni Association to recognize distinguished graduates for their outstanding professional contributions, scholarly distinction and/or service to the community at large. The first Awards were presented at Homecoming 2006 and are awarded at Homecoming every year.

In 2009, we were pleased to introduce the Macdonald Distinguished Young Alumni Award, which recognizes the achievements and contributions of our younger alumni.

2023 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Marc BielerMarc Bieler DipAgr’58, BA’64

From early childhood to the present day, Marc has always had a passion for the natural world and for agriculture in particular.

His ambition was farming and he broadened his knowledge at Macdonald Campus and later at McGill's downtown campus, while apprenticing on various farms.

In 1964, he joined Continental Grain Co. as a grain trader, with postings in Winnipeg, Vancouver, Minneapolis and New York. He then returned to Canada where he was involved in regional development in the Quebec Agricultural Department.

He followed that with a degree in Urbanism at the Université de Montréal, and shortly thereafter returned to the land—apple farming in southern Quebec.

After searching for a fruit crop with a growing market that was well adapted to Quebec climate, soil and water conditions, he found an opportunity in cranberries.

Over 40 years, Marc built a substantial agri-business as a cranberry grower and processor. He has recently joined Ocean Spray Cooperative.

He wishes to contribute to addressing the very pertinent environmental challenges affecting us all, which have substantial negative impacts on the growers that feed the world, saying, "We must mobilize our resources, yours and mine, to meet the ecological challenge of our generation going forward." He regards McGill as a world class university with competent human resources in several faculties that must be mobilized to focus on the urgent societal challenges at hand.

His landmark $15-million gift to the McGill School of Environment, since renamed the Bieler School of Environment, has enabled the University to train the next generation of leaders and innovators to embody the kind of cooperation that humanity needs in charting new courses to save the planet.

2023 Distinguished Young Alumni Award Recipients

Nicolas Chatel-Launay  Nicolas Chatel-Launay BSc(AgEnvSc)’14

From a very young age, Nicolas Chatel-Launay has been fascinated by the natural world, particularly insects. His pursuits, be they academic, professional or political follow one goal: ensuring the preservation of our environment for future generations.

In 2014, Nicolas graduated in environmental biology, specializing in entomology. He then undertook a master's degree in Plant Science with McGill and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. During his years at McGill, he was VP Finance of the Macdonald Campus Students' Society, President of the Macdonald Campus Graduate Students' Society, a member of the McGill Senate and heavily involved in Macdonald and McGill politics.

In 2017, Nicolas left his master’s studies to become the research officer of the Pôle d’excellence en lutte intégrée (PELI), an organization striving to promote the adoption of integrated pest management by Québec farmers to reduce the use of pesticides. This led to the creation of the Agrobonsens campaign to promote alternatives to pesticides and to shed light on producers who adopt those practices. This campaign received many accolades, including the Union des producteurs agricoles' Hélène Alarie prize in environment. After 6 years at the PELI doing outreach and extension work, Nicolas moved on to full-time politics.

Long before coming to Macdonald Campus, Nicolas was convinced that, in order to protect our natural world, scientists must get politically involved. That is why he started engaging with various political organizations, mainly the environmentalist provincial party Québec solidaire, at 16 years of age. After running as a candidate in three provincial elections, including for the Jacques-Cartier riding that includes Mac Campus in 2018, Nicolas was elected Secretary General of Québec solidaire in 2021, heading the administrative and democratic processes of the party. In January 2023, he left PELI to also lead Québec solidaire's political strategy as Interim President, while remaining its secretary general. He continues to tackle the biodiversity crisis through political means. Nicolas remains active in the scientific world, as he is currently the Secretary of the Entomological Society of Québec.

B. Pratyusha Chennupati B. Pratyusha Chennupati MSc’13

B. Pratyusha Chennupati has made significant contributions to the agribusiness industry since graduating from McGill University in 2013. She started her career as a product development scientist at Concentric Ag Inc., where she established the manufacturing facility and developed plant nutrition and health products. At Nufarm, she led registration strategies and represented the company on task forces and industry associations. She successfully registered microalgae products in South, Central and North America, South Africa, and Europe and obtained self-assessed-GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) FDA notifications for health food ingredients.

Currently serving as Head of Regulatory and Government Affairs at Pebble Labs Inc., B. continues to drive innovation. She recently got selected to be a Millennium fellow with Atlantic Council. She participated in the AdvancingAg Leadership program in 2018 and worked with UNESCO on economic solutions for UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2019. As a member of the Canadian Agriculture Youth Council, she influences agricultural policies, including youth inclusion in food systems.

B.'s notable achievements include collaborating with Global Affairs Canada to advocate for youth in agriculture food systems, presenting her work at the 50th Plenary Session of the Committee on World Food Security. She also serves as an external reviewer for the Food Waste Reduction Challenge - Impact Canada, providing insights on regulatory hurdles.

Reflections of past DYAA recipients

In 2009, we launched our Distinguished Young Alumni Award. Ten years later, we asked past recipients to reflect on the meaning of this award.

Anne Desrochers, BScAgr’02, MSc’04

First recipient of the Macdonald Campus Distinguished Young Alumni Award, October 2009.

Anne studied at McGill University’s Macdonald Campus from 1999 to 2004, obtaining both her BSc in Agriculture and her MSc in Agricultural and Bioresource Engineering. She has worked in the agricultural sector since she graduated and has held different positions and worked on a wide range of projects in Canada, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. When she was nominated and obtained the first Macdonald Campus Distinguished Young Alumni Award in October 2009, she was working in Haiti as a volunteer with local farmers on an agro-environmental and food security project. Receiving this award was a great honour and inspired her to pursue her passion and continue with her work. Today, Anne is the Director and Founder of her consultancy company called Solanum Consulting, which is based in Barbados. Her main focus has been to promote and encourage the use of resilient, innovative and sustainable approaches and solutions in agriculture, particularly with vulnerable groups such as small-scale and subsistence farmers, rural women and youth and indigenous communities across the Caribbean. Apart from that, Anne does shade house farming of vegetables and is expanding her activities to include climate-controlled gourmet mushroom production in the near future. She has been accepted to pursue a PhD in Environmental Studies at the University of the West Indies and is the mother of two boys. She would like to encourage other young women and men to promote and apply for the Macdonald Campus Distinguished Young Alumni Award and would also like to inspire more youth into the agricultural sector.


Oriana Familar,(AgEnvSc)’06, MSE

Macdonald Campus Distinguished Young Alumni Award, October 2010
Sustainability Consultant, Centre local de développement (CLD) of Brome-Missisquoi

This award brought me recognition in my career domain and allowed me to discover the beautiful tradition that is Homecoming.




Frédéric Thériault, BSc(AgEnvSc)’04, MSc’08

Macdonald Campus Distinguished Young Alumni Award, October 2011

I was very pleased to win the Macdonald Young Alumni Award in 2011. As en entrepreneur, a distinction like this is always good to build your brand and recognition among your community. Tourne-Sol Co-operative Farm is a collective enterprise built by Mac Graduates that is very well respected among Canadian organic vegetable growers as well as in our community in Vaudreuil-Soulanges and the West Island of Montreal.



Prosanta Chakrabarty, BSc(Agr)’01

Macdonald Campus Distinguished Young Alumni Award, October 2012
Associate Professor of Biology and Curator of Fishes, LSU Museum of Natural Science

The Macdonald Distinguished Young Alumni Award means the world to me. Mac was where I learned to be an adult and a scientist, and that I could be recognized for having “made it” by my alma mater gave me a great deal of pride in my accomplishments and led to several other important recognitions.


Sarah Archibald, BSc(AgEnvSc)’12

Macdonald Campus Distinguished Young Alumni Award, October 2016
Sarah just completed her Masters and is now Program Manager North Amercia for Pur Project a supply-chain sustainability consultancy.

Receiving the Distinguished Young Alumni Award was an absolute honour. @McGillMacCampus is recognized as a leader in agricultural research and teaching. This award has catalyzed my ability to open doors into the supply-chain sustainability and agroecology space.




Loloah Chamoun, BSc(FSc)’15

Macdonald Campus Distinguished Young Alumni Award, October 2017
PhD candidate Human Nutrition currently doing an internship at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome.

Receiving the Macdonald Distinguished Young Alumni Award was a very humbling and enabling experience as this award recognizes and values the inspiring works of McGill Alumni. Not only did it give voice to some of my personal experiences and aspirations, but it also allowed me to reaffirm my motivations and inspired me to keep challenging myself in my career.



Chloé Anderson, BSc(FSc)’15, MSc’17

Macdonald Campus Distinguished Young Alumni Award, October 2018
Associate Scientist at Chew Innovation in Boston, Mass.

Last time I was at Macdonald I found a proud, inspiring and strong supportive community as well as my first job in the food industry – this award changed my life.

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