Our Fall 2008 Valedictorians: Osman Hasan, Sonia Cancian and Maria Kalamas 

Osman Hasan

Osman Hasan's PhD dissertation work has had such a profound impact addressing previously accepted inaccuracies in determining potential problems in hardware and software systems that his theories have already been in 14 reputable publications over the last year, including in book form.

Hasan worked on a way to model for unpredictable elements in these systems, such as variations in power supply voltages in electrical components or variable usage patterns in telecommunication networks. Addressing these problems is a major challenge and preoccupation for designers. Usually their solutions are based on incomplete or inaccurate models.

His thesis presents ‘precise’ solutions to performance and reliability queries regarding systems with random or unpredictable components and has applications in many fields such as telecommunications and electronic devices.

Hasan first came to Concordia in 1999 as an international student from Pakistan and graduated with a master's from the Electrical and Computer Engineering department in 2001.

Once he had settled on a PhD field, he was really pleased to learn that Concordia had a great reputation in the area. "I had a great time at Concordia during my master's and I especially loved its multicultural student community." He was equally thrilled to discover the facilities of new EV Building. The labs, study spaces, and student lounges have all enhanced his experience.

Currently, Hasan is doing postdoctoral work alongside his former supervisor, Sofiene Tahar. "We (myself, Dr. Tahar and a couple of PhD students) are trying to extend the theories that I had developed in my PhD program to be able to analyze a broader range of systems and properties."

Tahar is enthusiastic about Hasan's contributions, pointing out the thesis has attracted attention, and potential colloborations with, Cambridge University, the University of Manchester and telecommunications firm Ericsson Montreal.

Hasan hopes to find a teaching position and urges other students to pursue their goals, "if we keep our confidence and faith in ourselves we can really make a difference."

Sonia Cancian

As an undergrad in 1990, Sonia Cancian learned about a book on the Italian-Canadian immigration experience from another student. She could not have predicted the impact that book would have on her own career.

Cancian's valedictory speech tops off an impressive career at Concordia. She completed her dissertation a year ago, examining letters to determine the effect of migration experienced by new arrivals to Canada and their loved ones in Italy. The work focuses on the three decades following WWII, which were marked by high migration to Canada from Italy.

"[My research] shows the various ways in which individuals attempted to comprehend, engage with and explain the profound changes they experienced over time, through the letters they wrote over forty years ago."

Cancian is currently working on a SSHRC postdoc at the University of Minnesota with world migration expert Donna Gabaccia. Her dissertation manuscript has been accepted for publication with the University of Manitoba Press.

Cancian completed her research through the PhD in Humanities program because, "it offered the realization of a dream for me to engage in graduate work that was not limited by disciplinary boundaries."

She sees that opportunity as specific to this institution. "Concordia is a place that welcomes innovative research ideas and encourages critical thinking inside and outside the parameters of conventional research domains."

In addition to innovative research models, Cancian is appreciative of her supervisors, Graham Carr and Sally Cole, and of the faculty in general "who engage with students and offer unwavering critical support and encouragement in the learning process."

Taking up Albert Einstein's emphasis on the importance of passion and curiosity, Cancian urged her fellow graduates during the afternoon Arts and Science convocation ceremony to hold those qualities dear as they "are hallmarks of intellectual, creative and professional development. I believe that they, in tandem with determination and resilience, support and mentorship, are the fundamental driving forces behind achieving success in education."

Maria Kalamas

Maria Kalamas earned her PhD in Administration by developing a model to study shopping convenience and to assess the importance of convenience to consumers. In the end, she determined that shopping convenience is extremely important in terms of satisfaction and loyalty. Her findings also reveal that consumers perceive online retailers as offering greater overall shopping convenience than their brick-and-mortar equivalents.

She credits supervisor Michel Laroche with helping her hone her research skills. Under his mentoring she has made numerous conference presentations and co-authored publications in several leading journals. “Through individual and collaborative research endeavours, I gained extensive experience in conceptualizing and conducting original research in marketing.”

Kalamas has taken those skills to her new position as assistant professor at the Michael J. Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. In her professorial role, she hopes to contribute to a “vibrant and challenging environment, where colleagues and students grow and excel. My goal is to engage students in the learning experience through traditional and innovative didactic means.”

Ultimately, she hopes to make a significant lifetime contribution to the marketing discipline, a goal that will help her become “a well-respected ambassador of my alma mater.”


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