2024 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients

- Michael Kissinger

Scott Beatty (MASc ’09, PhD ’15) aims to transform marine safety and help build climate resilient coastal infrastructure. Credit: Taylor Roades Photography

Environment, community, clean tech and climate action a common thread among the inspiring UVic grads honoured this year.

An environmental problem-solver committed to healing our dirt, an ocean engineer who is unlocking powerful climate data and a grassroots activist, writer and land-based educator are among 18 recipients of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards.

The annual awards celebrate the remarkable achievements of University of Victoria graduates in three categories: the Presidents’ Alumni Awards, the Indigenous Community Alumni Awards and the Emerging Alumni Awards.

Challenging the status quo

To describe Danielle Stevenson’s job as a dirty one would be an understatement. The Presidents’ Alumni Award recipient is an applied scientist and mycologist who works with soils, fungi, plants and people to address waste and pollution in creative and circular ways. She founded D.I.Y. Fungi to help people harness the health and environmental powers of growing mushrooms from home; and Healing City Soils to provide soil testing and community bioremediation for people growing their own food.

“I've experienced a lot of pushback in my work because my work involves facing big problems that are painful and uncomfortable to face, and the solutions that I'm proposing and working on are different than the status quo,” says Stevenson, who has a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and History from UVic and a PhD in Environmental Toxicology from the University of California Riverside.

One thing people have told me that was helpful is that all of that pushback is a good sign because it means that you're having an impact. When you’re innovating or challenging the status quo, there's going to be pushback.”

—Danielle Stevenson

Leaving the world in a better place

As founder and CEO of MarineLabs, Scott Beatty gets to combine his love of the ocean with cutting edge technology and coastal weather expertise. The recipient of an Emerging Alumni Award, Beatty has spent more than 18 years as an engineering researcher and consultant in maritime technology. Through his work, he aims to transform marine safety and help build climate resilient coastal infrastructure through MarineLabs’ fleet of ocean sensors and data sources.

“I want to see my work improve the world somehow,” says Beatty, who holds both a Master's and PhD in mechanical engineering from UVic.

In grad school, it was about ‘let's see if we can get this renewable energy source online. Let’s see if we can reduce carbon and build a new renewable energy source for society.’  That was extremely motivating. I've moved on a little bit in terms of the problem itself… To me it's about leaving the world in a better place than when I arrived. That's fundamental to me.” 

—Scott Beatty

Focus on future generations

Recipient of the Indigenous Community Alumni Award, Jess Housty (Cúagilákv) is a parent and writer of Heiltsuk and mixed settler ancestry who serves their community in Bella Bella as a herbalist and land-based educator, alongside broader work in the non-profit and philanthropic sectors. Last year, they published their debut poetry collection, Crushed Wild Mint.

“One of the things that I heard often throughout my childhood and into my adolescence was that it doesn't matter what we do and what we accomplish if there isn't a generation coming up under us that is poised to do what we do and do more.”

—Jess Housty (Cúagilákv)

“That's been a key learning for me, and a guiding force in my work: recognizing that it's all well and good for me to do what I can do, but I also need to be paying attention to the generation coming up under me and making sure that they are invested in the same values and ideas and culture that I've been privileged to grow up in, so that they feel empowered to do everything that I'm doing, and much more.”

This year’s Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are:

Presidents’ Alumni Awards

  • Rob Bennett, BSc ’83
  • Susan Blanchet, BA ’97, JD ’02
  • Jonny Morris, BA ’07, MA ’11 
  • Bren Simmers, BA ’00
  • Danielle Stevenson, BA ’10
  • Carrie Tennant, BMus ’99, PDT ’00

Emerging Alumni Awards

  • Scott Beatty, MASc ’09, PhD ’15
  • Dennis Gupa, PhD ’21
  • Katłįà (Catherine) Lafferty, JID ’23
  • Trevor MacKenzie, BA ’03, PDT ’04, MEd ’20
  • Karen Saini, BSW ’15, MPA ’18
  • Jayesh Vekariya, MBA ’19
  • Fiona Wong, JD ’20

Indigenous Alumni Awards

  • Melinda Kachina Bige, MA ’16
  • Jon Carr, BSc ’10, BEd ’12
  • Jess Housty (Cúagilákv), BA ’09
  • Ivy Martin, Dipl ’23
  • Lydia Toorenburgh, BA ’18, MA ’23

Read bios and Q&As with each of this year’s recipients.


In this story

Keywords: alumni, award, community, Indigenous

People: Scott Beatty, Danielle Stevenson, Jess Housty

Publication: The Ring

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