Remembering a passionate professor, Dr. Kathlyn Kirkwood

 In Memoriam Kathlyn Kirkwood 1972 to 2019

Remembering a dedicated and passionate professor, Dr. Kathlyn Kirkwood (1972-2019)

(Friday, November 1st, 2019)

On Monday, October 28, the Faculty of Engineering was devastated to hear about the passing of their beloved colleague, Dr. Kathlyn Kirkwood. After a hard fought battle against cancer, Dr. Kirkwood passed peacefully on Monday.

Dr. Kirkwood was an outstanding professor.  Her dedication to teaching and student success were admirable. Her students were always at the forefront of her thoughts, developing several courses throughout her career keeping in mind how her students would both benefit and enjoy them.  As the department’s CO-OP coordinator, she was a mentor to several students, helping them find great opportunities and ensuring their success.

Dr. Kirkwood’s contributions to the Faculty were outstanding.  She supported and inspired new faculty members; she supervised graduate students; advanced the student exchange program; and even stepped in as acting Chair of her department to ensure its well-being and operation.  Her generosity and compassion for her fellow colleagues was unprecedented and truly appreciated by all. 

Her colleagues will forever remember Dr. Kirkwood as a dedicated, brilliant, beautiful person. To celebrate her life and pursue her passion for students’ success, the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering have named a fund in her honour, The Kathlyn Kirkwood Memorial Scholarship Fund. This scholarship will support passionate and dedicated undergraduate chemical engineering students to pursue their studies.

You can help continue Dr. Kirkwood’s legacy in supporting students by donating to the Kathlyn Kirkwood Memorial Scholarship fund.

Friends, colleagues and students at the Faculty will truly miss Dr. Kathlyn Kirkwood.
On behalf of the Faculty of Engineering, we extend our warmest condolences to the Kirkwood family during this difficult time.

    Friends and colleagues alike have shared their kind words and memories of Dr. Kirkwood​​​​​:

    “Dr. Kirkwood was an inspiration, and will continue to be. She was one of the strongest person I had the privilege to have known, she was an unassuming brilliant person, quiet as a mouse but fierce as a lion, with unwavering courage. Truly.”

    – Sylvie Saindon

    “Kathlyn was one of our best faculty members in every aspect of the job. She was an outstanding teacher. Any time she was given a course to teach, if she was taking it over from another colleague, she would make sure to add on material, and the course was new, she would set it up so that students would really enjoy it. I always heard from many of our undergraduate students that found her one of the best teachers in the department. For a number of years she was our department academic CO-OP coordinator. She cared a great deal about our CO-OP program and made a number of changes to ensure students are evaluated fairly. In the mist of her illness last year, she agreed to be the interim chair for a number of months. She was adamant to get the job done. Incredibly smart woman with a very kind and fair personality. It was an honor for me to get to know her and to be her colleague. She will be truly missed.”

    – Poupak Mehrani, Associate Chair Graduate Studies and Professor

    “Kathlyn was one of those rare people that speak only when needed, and when they speak, it is intelligently. When Kathlyn chose to comment on something, be it a Department meeting or just chatting amongst colleagues, it was always something thoughtful and important. At the same time, she was a cheerful and positive person whenever I interacted with her. I remember Kathlyn in many ways: as one of our top undergraduate students when I taught her in the late 90’s; meeting her at a conference towards the end of her PhD; spending an evening with her and her husband Sean at a conference gala in Edmonton; welcoming her to the Department when she started working with us; and her brief time as Acting Chair, when she blew me away with her presence and take charge attitude. I was fortunate enough to co-author a paper with Kathlyn. My PhD student was working on a bioadhesive and we lacked the knowledge of how to assay that adhesive for biocompatibility, among other properties. Kathlyn was able to provide the missing knowledge and gave generously of her time and experience to help my student with her project. I am very proud that we were able to work together in such an effective way.”

    – Marc Dubé, Vice-Dean Research and Professor

    “I think it normal that in our last few steps here, we turn back to see what of value we leave behind. Kathlyn remarked upon how she was glad for the courses she developed and she insisted her Perry’s Handbook be passed onto her PhD student. But for those of us who knew her, what permeates the space in Kathlyn’s wake is her stoic heart and strength of spirit, both remarkable and precious.”

    – David Taylor, Vice-Dean Quality Assurance and Teaching Innovation and Professor

    “I will remember Kathlyn as exceptional woman and passionate Professor. She was dedicated to her students and to all the students of the department, in teaching and as a CO-OP coordinator. She was doing an incredible job as a CO-OP coordinator in looking for opportunities for students and mentoring them in their professional skill development, with an individual follow of each student. She put tremendous efforts in the exchange program with Tianjin University). She was also very supportive with me as a new Faculty member by sharing advice and being inspiring.”

    – Clémence Fauteux-Lefebvre, Assistant professor

    “Kathlyn will be remembered as a nice person with her great heart, caring for her students, passionate about her work, fair, and intelligent. She is a good colleague and a friend.”

    – Xudong Cao

    “Kathlyn brought a warm smile, intelligence, and a reliable, fair, and hard work ethic to the department. Her personality was cheery, friendly, and collaborative. She was a perceptive, intelligent, and caring person. I will remember her for her passion for the training of her students in the classroom and in her research lab, as well as her contagious laugh. Kathlyn is one of the few people who has eyes that can be described as twinkling.”

    – Sidney Omelon, Former colleague and Professor

    “I have memories of Kathlyn both in the university and in the community. At the university, I was a last minute replacement to teach her class while she was having chemotherapy, after her initial cancer diagnosis. I remember her always being willing to be an examiner for my student’s theses, on fuel cells (one of her areas of expertise). Her questions were rigorous, insightful, and were always helpful for the students. In the community, we met at the Superstore in Westboro and at the Broadview School band concert. One of her children and one of my grandchildren were band members. I remember Kathlyn as a super-nice person who always pitched in to do what was needed. She leaves an enormous vacuum behind. She will be missed.”

    – Marten Ternan, Adjunct Professor

    "Early in 2018 I offered Kathlyn the opportunity to replace me as Interim Chair from July 1st to December 31st 2018. What I didn't know at that time was that her cancer had returned. However, after I offered her this position, she updated me on her situation and asked for a day to think about it. The very next day, she accepted and I could tell that she had thought carefully about her decision and her yes really meant yes. She did a marvelous job as the Interim Chair. Kathlyn was never very outspoken and wasn't usually putting herself in the frontline or seeking attention, but she was a natural leader, a true leader. I will miss her professionalism and passion, which do not always go side by side, but in her case, they did."

    – Boguslaw Kruczek, Chair of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Professor

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