10th Annual Catalyst Awards

Catalyst Awards 2020

The Office of Sustainability is proud to recognize the diverse efforts that take place at McGill to grow and enhance sustainability efforts across our campuses. This year's annual Catalyst Awards recognizes the achievements of three groups which have excelled in: Operations; Connectivity and Governance & Administration; and the Research and Education categories of the McGill Vision 2020 Sustainability Strategy. We also continue to recognize one outstanding student with the Emerald Key award, one staff/faculty member with the Faculty & Staff award, and one administrative and support and/or academic staff member—who has made a profound contribution to advancing sustainability at McGill—with the Distinguished Contribution award.


Emerald Key

The Emerald Key is given out to a student who has made an outstanding and enduring contribution to the sustainability movement at McGill University. This year's award winner is:
Charles ChoiEmerald Key 2020

Distinguished Contribution Award

The Distinguished Contribution Award recognizes an administrative and support and/or academic staff member who has made a profound, sustained, and cumulative contribution to advancing sustainability in the larger McGill community. This year's award winner is:
Michael Bleho

Distinguished Contribution Award 2020

Faculty & Staff Award

The Faculty & Staff award recognizes staff members who have inspired real change on McGill's campuses, increasing the sustainability of the University. This year's award winner is:
Jonathan RoushamStaff Contribution to Sustainability Award 2019

Category Awards

The project-based Catalyst Awards are given out to projects that have contributed to the sustainability movement at McGill University in the following categories: research and education, connectivity and governance, and operations. This year's award winning projects are:

Sustainability Research SymposiumSustainability in Research & Education Award 2020It Takes All of UsSustainability in Connectivity & Governance Award 2020Ecological Improvement of Dairy Cow Pastures at Macdonald CampusSustainability in Operations Award 2020

About the Recipients: 

Charles Choi (Emerald Key Award)

Charles Choi majored in Political Science and Canadian Studies, with a minor in History. As the 2019-2020 President of SSMU DriveSafe—a student-led volunteer service that offers students free drives home on selected nights—Charles extended the service area of DriveSafe's operations to included areas with limited public transportation options (such as to the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawà:ke, the Montreal South Shore, and Macdonald campus) and pursued purchasing carbon offsets for DriveSafe to ultimately lead them to becoming carbon neutral. Charles also worked with DriveSafe to commit their operations to becoming a fully electric fleet by 2030.

Catalyst Award Announcement Video

Michael Bleho (Distinguished Contribution Award)

As Coordinator of the Horticulture Research Centre at the Macdonald Campus Farm, Michael has demonstrated his commitment to sustainability through his daily interactions with students and his work making the agricultural process more eco-friendly throughout his 30 years at the Centre. Michael was a driving force in establishing ‘McGill Feeding McGill’, an initiative which directly provides Macdonald Campus produce to campus dining halls. With funding from the Sustainability Projects Fund, Michael and a team of students planted a new orchard at Macdonald Farm which uses special watering technology to reduce ground space and requires fewer passes with tractors.

Catalyst Award Announcement Video

Other Videos and Media

Jonathan Rousham (Staff Contribution to Sustainability Award)

Jonathan Rousham, Maintenance Manager at SHHS/Facilities, has combined his strong belief in sustainability with his responsibility overseeing maintenance of 37 residence buildings on campus. Jonathan prioritizes sustainability in all his renovations by opting for durable materials as demonstrated by his sustainable, waste-minimized renovation of all 105 apartments in Solin Hall in 2019. In addition to his renovations, Jonathan hired a sustainability assistant to provide him with a direct link to students living in residence and co-organized a power reduction competition to encourage students to practice sustainability in residence.

Catalyst Award Announcement Video

Sustainability Research Symposium (Sustainability in Research & Education Award)

The Sustainability Research Symposium (SRS) is an annual student-led, interdisciplinary event for McGill students interested in sustainability research. The one-day event features speakers, student research presentations, workshops, and networking opportunities with the goal of connecting students from different disciplines. Now in its tenth year, the SRS operates on the belief that exploring the many axes (social, economic, environmental) of sustainability with peers from different academic backgrounds is imperative to sustainability research.

Team Photo

Team photo of the Sustainability Research Symposium.
The Sustainability Research Symposium team (pre-COVID-19). From left to right: Abdulrazzak Tamim (Communications & Support), Oi Yin Lai (Finance), Rikke Plougmann (Co-Lead), Kaitlyn Law (Logistics), Rachel Kendall (Lead), Konstantina Chalastara (Support), and Lauren Jelinek (Social Media). Not pictured: Kerstin Schreiber (PhD Geography).

Catalyst Award Announcement Video

It Takes All of Us (Sustainability in Connectivity & Governance Award)

It Takes All of Us (ITAOU): Creating a Campus Free from Sexual Violence, is a new mandatory online learning program for all McGill community members. ITAOU is building a campus free of sexual violence and creating a culture based on respect and consent. The development of ITAOU involved students, staff, and faculty, and has helped create safer, more inclusive spaces.

A message from the It Takes All of Us Team

We are overwhelmed with gratitude to have been selected to receive the Connectivity & Governance Catalyst Award for the “It Takes All of Us” project! Thank you so much sharing in this occasion with us; our team is honoured to have our work recognized. This great accomplishment was no small feat, and could not have been made possible without the support, hard work and dedication of so many here at McGill. We would like to thank everyone who provided their time, energy, expertise and feedback from content revision, to implementation, systems management, communications and completion. Because of your involvement this, first-of its kind, programming was unrolled to over 40,000 community McGill members within its first year.

We are honour to be recognized for this award and are grateful that our work resonates with others.

As we move into the second year of implementation, we continue to welcome feedback and reflect on the ways in which the program can grow to help continue our efforts in bringing about positive change for students, staff and faculty at McGill.

We are equally grateful for the ongoing financial support allocated towards sexual violence prevention initiatives and resources on our campuses. We consider the implementation of the “It Takes All Of Us” program as one of several significant components in McGill’s overall efforts to help foster a culture of consent and respect in our community.

Thank you so much for sharing with us in this occasion; we are truly humbled and appreciative of this recognition.

We hope to continue this important work for many years to come.


  • Bianca Tétrault, Sexual Violence Education Advisor, OSVRSE
  • Chris Buddle, Associate Provost (Teaching and Academic Programs)
  • Angela Campbell, Associate Provost (Equity and Academic Policies)
  • Katherine Belisle, Communications Associate, TLS
  • Alexander Liepins, Academic Associate, TLS
  • Robyn Obermeyer, Communication Officer
  • Pierre Boisseau, Senior Director, Institutional Communications
  • Heidi Emami, Associate Registrar, Academic Records and Exams
  • Patricia Wait, IT Project Manager
  • James Martin, Associate Director, Internal Communications
  • Johnny Martuccio, Manager Student Records Registration & Accounts
  • Francis Desjardins, Director, Labour and Employee Relations
  • Eric St-Amand, Portfolio Manager, Student Life & Teaching
  • Marline Guirguis, Sr. Analyst, IT
  • Rodney Jean-Paul, Learning Technology Administrator
  • Shelly Feran, Enterprise Architect, IT Architecture
  • Meryem Benslimane, Equity Education Advisor (Gender Equity & LGBTQ+ Education)
  • Christopher T. Dietzel, Orientation Education & Training, CL&E
  • Émilie Marcotte, Sexual Violence Response Advisor, OSVRSE
  • Consent McGill Peer Educator Team
  • Christelle Tessono, Our Shared Spaces
  • Eve Finley, Our Shared Spaces

Catalyst Award Announcement Video

Other Videos

Ecological Improvement of Dairy Cow Pastures at Macdonald Campus Farm (Sustainability in Operations Awards)

The Ecological Improvement of Dairy Cow Pastures project has created a sustainable pasture system at the Macdonald Campus Farm which features a rotational grazing system for cattle, the addition of approximately 700 trees and shrubs, the installation of water lines for access to fresh water, and the purchase of a mobile shade umbrella to protect cattle from the sun. The re-design of the pastures has led to improved animal well-being and reduced machinery usage. Led by Maxime Leduc and Paul Meldrum, and run by a team of staff and student employees, the pasture improvements allow the pasturing of dairy cattle to work in harmony with the environment and creates new habitats for birds and insects.

Catalyst Award Announcement Video

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