McMaster PhD grads awarded Governor General gold medals for academic achievement


Published November 28, 2023 at 5:03 pm

Raha Hassan and Sophie Poznanski

A rising star in the field of developmental science and a medical researcher developing new effective cancer immunotherapies for poor prognosis tumours are this year’s winners of the McMaster University Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal, one of the most prestigious student awards in Canada.

Raha Hassan and Sophie Poznanski were chosen for the Gold Medals, which are awarded to students who achieve the highest academic standing at the graduate level.

Hassan will graduate with a PhD from the Psychology–Research and Clinical Training Stream in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour.


Hassan successfully defended her thesis in the spring 2023 after completing a year-long clinical psychology residency at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre in Ottawa. Her research is focused on examining behavioural and self-regulatory processes in preschoolers.

She has won numerous national and international awards and was awarded an assistant professor position in the Department of Psychology at Western University.

Poznanski will graduate with a PhD in medical sciences from the Faculty of Health Sciences.


In 2019, Poznanski received a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship and during her time at the Ashkar Lab at McMaster, Poznanski helped make major breakthroughs in the field of cancer immunotherapy.

Following her PhD defense this summer she was recruited to a senior position in a cancer immunotherapy pharma company to head their translational research and pre-clinical development.

Established in 1873, the award recognizes exceptional academic achievement. Earning this accolade not only places this year’s recipients among the top students to graduate from McMaster; it places them among the top students in all of Canada.

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