Student Awards

Annually, the PRSSS offers 3 awards for students: Soil Science Student Awards, Poster Competition Awards, and the Warkentin Prize. Please see the information below for each of the awards:

The PRSSS in partnership with the Y.P. Heung Foundation awards a graduate student and an undergraduate student on the merits of:

  • Academic achievement
  • Research proposal (graduate students only)
  • Leadership and community service
  • Communication skills
  • Letters of recommendation

The Les Lavkulich Graduate Student Award in Soil Science. One award of $5000. Please follow the application guidelines HERE.

The Art Bomke Undergraduate Student Award in Soil Science. One award of $3000. Please follow the application guidelines HERE.

Applications for the 2024 Awards are open. 

2023 Winners:

Art Bomke Student Award: Sarah Gafner-Bergeron

Sarah Gafner-Bergeron is a recent graduate of UBCO’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program. She first fell in love with soil when some gardeners encouraged her to peer at their compost through a dissecting microscope. Since then, she has worked as a co-op student in a soil chemistry lab and a nematology lab at the Summerland Research Station, where she was trusted with an even stronger microscope to look at soil microbiota; her honour’s thesis discussed the importance of ectomycorrhizal fungal spores in successional post-harvest timber stands. This August, Sarah will begin a Master’s in Botany and Plant Pathology at the University of Maine, where her work will focus on mitigating climatic effects on natural blueberry systems. In the meantime, she is learning to love clay soil as a farm hand at Orchard Hill Farm in Kelowna.

Les Lavkulich Student Award: Jordy Kersey - PhD Candidate at UBC

I’m Jordy Kersey (MSc), currently a PhD candidate in soil science working with Dr. Sean Smukler, at UBC in the Sustainable Agricultural Landscapes Lab. My research is focused on the impact of regenerative agricultural practices on climate breakdown mitigation and adaptation in the lower Fraser Valley, British Columbia. Specifically, I am investigating how agricultural management practices influence soil carbon and nitrogen cycling, greenhouse gas emissions, and soil water regulation. I am passionate about working towards a more sustainable future and finding meaningful ways to improve agricultural systems to combat climate crisis while continuing to feed our world. I’ve also been a member of the PRSSS since arriving in Canada in 2020. I love being a piece of the soil enthusiasts community!  Beyond academics, I am an avid cookie baker, traveler, and enjoy long hikes through the forests of the PNW.




  • Patrick Pow - PhD candidate at UBC
  • Liam Easton - Bachelor's student at TRU


  • Paula Porto - MSc student at UBC
  • Helga Holler-Busch - Bachelor's student at the UNBC


  • Patricia Hanuszak - MSc student at the University of British Columbia
  • Hannah Friesen - Undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia


  • Carson Li - MSc student at the University of British Columbia
  • Patricia Hanuszak - Undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia

Our 2024 AGM will feature and rapid-fire presentation competition, in which participants are asked to submit a 3-minute presentation and accompanying slide. There are cash prizes to be won for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place! This event takes the place of our poster competitions.

If you want to sign up to participate, fill out our AGM registration form and select that you are interested in our Rapid-fire talks! A rubric for the form can be found here.

Past Recipients

Patricia Hanuszak (UBC) - "Effects of a 4-Year Grassland Set-aside on Soil Aggregate Stability"

Marieta Marin-Bruzos (UBC) - "Chitinases gene abundance in cherry orchards under different land management"

Vaselios Kokkoris (UBCO) - "Are fungal inoculants effective in the field?"


1st Prize: Nicolette Lax (UBC) - Effect of low tunnels and plant biomass and fruit yield of summer squash

2nd Prize: Marieta Marin-Bruzos (UBC) - Potential of cherry rhizosphere Actinomycetes as biocontrol agents against plant-parasitic nematodes

3rd Prize: Doug Terpsma (TRU) - The “Topographic Signature”: Using Fine-Scale Soil Variability and Topography for Predicting Available Soil Water in Hot, Dry Douglas-fir Ecosystems

Every year, the PRSSS accepts nominations and applications for the Warkentin Prize, in recognition of Dr. Benno P. Warkentin. The Warkentin Prize of $750 will be awarded to a student or recent graduate that has published a peer-reviewed article or thesis in the field of soil science.

  • For more information about the award and how to apply click HERE.


Past Recipients


Zimin Li - Université Catholique de Louvain - UC Louvain


Vaselios Kokkoris - University of British Columbia Okanagan


Gabriel Maltais-Landry - University of British Columbia


Jacynthe Masse University of British Columbia


Katelyn Congreves - University of Guelph