Photo: Dr. Suning Wang, Professor and Research Chair in Chemistry at Queen’s University, delivering her acceptance speech for the 2018 CAGS Award for Outstanding Graduate Mentorship. CAGS Annual Conference, Winnipeg, November 2018.

CAGS is deeply saddened by the loss of Dr. Suning Wang, Professor and Queen’s University Research Chair in Chemistry. Dr. Wang joined Queen’s University in 1996, and over the years that followed she taught and mentored more than 70 graduate students – including 34 PhDs – many of whom are now respected scientists and leaders in their fields.

In 2018, Dr. Wang received the inaugural CAGS Award for Outstanding Graduate Mentorship, honouring her longstanding commitment to graduate student success and wellbeing. In nominating her for the award, Dr. Wang’s former students wrote about her supportive and caring mentoring philosophy, and how she taught them to take risks and pursue new ideas in an environment of respect, openness, and collaboration. “She never let me settle for less than I was capable of,” wrote a former student. “She let me learn on my own and make mistakes, and gave me a sense of ownership over my project.” In 2019, Wang’s PhD student, Dr. Soren Mellerup, was awarded the CAGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award in the engineering, medical, and natural sciences category.

What set Dr. Wang apart was her ability to understand graduate students as human beings with a story to tell. Her students credit her with supporting their academic pursuits, but also their personal excellence, growth, and happiness. Indeed, Dr. Wang’s lab was known as a place where students felt like they belonged, and their research mattered. “What motivates Dr. Wang is the simple joy in discovery and of seeing her lab members grow from students into scientists,” reflected a former student, now a Canada Research Chair. “She has taught me a great deal about the kind of supervisor I one day hope to be.”

Dr. Wang completed her PhD in Chemistry at Yale University in 1986, followed by a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Texas A&M University. She has co-authored nearly 300 articles, many with graduate students, and her research teams are responsible for several significant breakthroughs and discoveries. In 2015, she was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Dr. Suning Wang will be missed by all. Her legacy as a world-class scholar and mentor will be carried into the future by her students, colleagues, friends, and family.