Dr. Bogdan Knezevic, BSc’15, PhD
Early Career Achievement Award
Recognizes professional accomplishment or creative leadership in any field by graduates aged 30 or younger (as of Dec. 31, 2021). The award honours recent graduates whose career success has brought distinction to themselves and credit to the university.
For years, he was one of the fastest swimmers in Canada (on track to compete in the 2016 Olympics), held down a 4.0 GPA and won a Rhodes Scholarship in 2015. After that, this year’s recipient of the Early Achievement Arch Award went to work at the Creative Destruction Lab in Toronto, followed by a dreamy job at Entrepreneur First (a talent tech accelerator). But Dr. Bogdan Knezevic’s latest mission has morphed into the greatest moon shot of all: quit a great job, spend the summer trekking the ridiculously remote 1,100-km-long Great Divide Trail (from Waterton to Jasper national parks) and then launch a startup with two of his best mates. And what might this new venture be? Top secret, says the 30-year-old whose PhD examined how genomics could be used to identify new drug targets by applying machine learning, although the sweet spot, admits the cagey Knezevic, BSc’15, might be at the crossroads of “software/product and the acceleration of science.” Stand by!
What was your most memorable class you took at UCalgary? My Intro to Neuro course with Prof. Ken Lukowiak, who believed that traditional testing methods were an ineffective way to engage students and truly test comprehension and critical thinking.
What was your favourite place to eat on campus? Breakfast bagels at Brew and Blendz, without a doubt.
What did your busiest days look like at UCalgary? Up 15 minutes later than my coaches preferred. In the pool by 6 a.m. for a two-hour workout followed by an hour of weights, then I’d eat, go to class, eat, swim again, eat, go to a lab, eat, finish assignments, eat. I forgot sleep somewhere in there. Also, did I mention eat?
Toughest course at UCalgary? A zoology course with a prof (who I won’t name) who clearly cared more about making confusing multiple-choice [questions] than about actually testing our knowledge.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Two scoops of food at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., lap cuddles and naps in between, and a runaround or two (this question answered by Cleo the cat, on behalf of Bogdan).
What is your greatest fear? Meeting the person I could have been and feeling disappointed. Also, sharks.
Which living person do you most admire? There are too many to choose from — I’m fortunate that many of them are family or friends.
What is your greatest extravagance? Bubble tea (jasmine milk tea, tapioca, half sugar, less ice) and nice suits/ties; the pandemic has been a blessing or a curse on this front, depending on how you look at it.
What is your greatest regret? Spending way too much time on this question, only to fail at finding a good answer.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? This is definitely yet to come.
Where would you most like to live? In one of the Terrace House homes in Japan, as part of a future season of the TV show (in the off chance any of the show’s producers are reading this!).
What is your most treasured possession? My password manager (although, during my upcoming hike, it’ll be my water filter).
What do you most value in your friends? Their ability to pick up from wherever it was we left off, no matter how much time has passed or how many things have happened since.
Who is your hero of fiction? Samwise Gamgee for his steadfast belief, courage, tenacity, and capacity for love.
Who are your heroes in real life? I don’t really have “heroes” in that sense, but I did once have a really nice (albeit short) conversation with Sirs Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen that made me really admire them.
What is your motto? It varies depending on what life decision I’m trying to justify in the moment.
What is it that you most dislike? The endless scroll on Netflix, trying to decide what to watch.
What is your most marked characteristic? I get restless if I feel like I’m not growing or using my strengths to their fullest. I’m also quite tenacious.
When and where were you happiest? In 2013, in the warm-down pool at the Eindhoven Swimming World Cup, after my morning 200 IM race.
Which living person do you most despise? I probably shouldn’t answer this — but, if we go for a drink, I’ll gladly elaborate!
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? I tried to google the virtues to find out what they are, then came across conflicting websites and got annoyed . . . so I guess my answer is "patience,” if that’s one of them?
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Hey Siri, what’s the temperature?”
Thank you to everyone who has helped, mentored, listened, or supported along the way. All my friends, professors, teammates, coaches, and family members — there are too many to name, but you all know who you are!