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2019 Leadership Award for Fellows & Students: Lawrence Yip

Lawrence Yip, PhD candidate, recognized for his leadership and enthusiasm for research

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Lawrence Yip was awarded the Leadership Award for Fellows and Students at the 2019 Lawson Impact Awards on April 11. This award recognizes individuals who demonstrate exceptional leadership qualities, strong research skills, and dedication to the advancement of health research.

Yip’s doctoral research focuses on using photoacoustic tomography, a type of 3D imaging, to provide improved visualization of breast cancer lesions during breast conserving surgery. During this surgery, breast tumours are removed with a surrounding layer of healthy tissue, to ensure no residual cancer is left behind. The removed specimen is then sent to the lab to confirm that all of the cancer was removed. Unfortunately, in approximately 10 per cent of cases, the tumour is not fully removed, and the patient must return for an additional operation.

Photoacoustic tomography, used in Yip’s research, combines advantages from ultrasound and optical imaging to create images of the removed tumour specimen—that can differentiate cancerous and healthy tissue—while still in the operating room. This provides immediate feedback to surgeons, which can reduce the need for repeat surgeries. 

“What sets Lawrence apart is his incredible work ethic,” says Androu Abdalmalak, one of Yip’s nominators. “He consistently sets goals for himself and consistently achieves those goals.”

“Lawrence is highly involved at Lawson and around Western University, whether it is with an academic committee, or organizing social events,” adds Ajay Rajaram, Yip’s second nominator.

Yip often presents at numerous conferences throughout the city, and is enthusiastic when speaking with media about his work. He is a strong advocate for the importance of scientific communication within academia, as well as the broader public.

“To me, it’s so important that people move out of their comfort zones, and get to know those around them. Sharing ideas and supporting one another is so important in science,” says Yip. “Nothing is a solo effort. Everything I do is really a collaboration.”

As a potent leader for young scientists, Yip often volunteers his time helping students in the imaging labs and many other research areas. He is an executive committee member of the Lawson Association of Fellows and Students (LAFS), and co-chair/organizer of Talks on Fridays (TOFS), among many other commitments. 

Yip expresses, “it is great to be recognized, and know that all the work we do is being noticed.”