Post-doctoral researcher and Laurentian University alumnus Xuyang Meng has received a prestigious Governor General’s Gold Medal award for academic excellence at the graduate level. Meng’s Ph.D in Economic Geology, belonging to the Mineral Deposits and Precambrian Geology program at Laurentian, focused on understanding the formation of porphyry copper deposits in the early Precambrian eon. Established in 1873, Governor General Academic Medals encourage strong scholastic performance across Canada. Medals are awarded annually to students graduating with the highest academic standing in four distinct levels of education; secondary, post-secondary collegiate, undergraduate, and graduate.
Nominated for this achievement by the Harquail School of Earth Sciences, Meng described feeling honoured and humbled to be a recipient. “I am grateful for the encouragement, advice, and help from my supervisors and colleagues at Laurentian, advisors on my Ph.D. committee, and collaborators from around the world. I treasure this award for recognizing our efforts.”
Meng has demonstrated great resilience and determination along his academic journey. His post-secondary studies began in Beijing, China, where he obtained his B.Sc. in Geology (2013), followed by his M.Sc. in Mineralogy, Petrology, and Mineral Deposit Geology (2016). Meng then moved to Canada to begin his Ph.D. in Economic Geology at the University of Alberta where he began to work closely with his faculty supervisor, Dr. Jeremy Richards.
In 2017, Dr. Richards was offered a Canadian Research Chair (Tier I) position at Laurentian. In light of this and Meng’s interest in the University’s Mineral Deposits and Precambrian Geology program, both relocated to Sudbury. Meng said he made this decision confidently because “there were so many great professors [and] this program could take me back to the geological processes of ancient times when the studied mineral deposits formed, which is very interesting.” In moving to Laurentian, Meng was the first Ph.D. student to join the Metal Earth geoscience research project.
Sadly, in 2019, Dr. Richards passed away after a battle against cancer. “I was shocked by this sad and sudden news,” said Meng. “I even considered the possibility of quitting my Ph.D.” However, with Dr. Richards in mind, Meng decided to push forward and follow his passion for research: “I wanted to continue the projects that we’d started, and achieve our goals. That was what I thought I could do for Jeremy.” Notably and even after Dr. Richard’s passing, his contributions and insights assisted Meng in the completion of his doctoral degree: “I am grateful for the research opportunities that my supervisor brought me… He was a brilliant scientist and knew almost everything regarding porphyry copper deposits.”
Meng described being grateful that Dr. Richards’ colleagues at Laurentian stepped up to supervise his students. “I always felt lucky to be at Laurentian, where people were there to help me when I met obstacles. I could not have overcome these difficulties without the support from many friendly people in the department [at the Harquail School], and at Laurentian.” Faculty from Laurentian who supported the completion of Meng’s degree mainly include Drs. Daniel Kontak, Pedro Jugo and Ross Sherlock. Dr. Adam Simon, who Meng currently works with at the University of Michigan for his postdoctoral research, and Dr. Jingwen Mao, the supervisor of Meng’s master thesis, have also been sources of support for Xuyang.
Meng has high aspirations for his future. His passion for scientific discovery is ongoing and as he attested: “Having met many eminent geologists since coming to Canada such as Jeremy, Dan, Adam, Pedro, Ross, and others, as well as having obtained my Ph.D. degree and now the Governor General’s Gold Medal, I have strengthened my confidence in my field.” Speaking about his future contributions, Meng said that he looks forward to helping bridge the gap in geological studies between various nations across the globe.
“I hope to continue to be able to make more significant academic contributions to our society.”