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Research marvels

Grad students and post-doctoral student receive prestigious academic awards

By Susan Flanagan

On Sept. 14 Kirsty Duncan, minister of Science, was on the St. John’s campus to announce 166 new Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship recipients and 70 new Banting Post-doctoral Fellowship recipients across the country for a total investment of $34.7 million.

Seamus O’Regan, minister of Veterans Affairs; Nick Whalen, member of Parliament, St. John’s East; and Colin Holloway, parliamentary secretary to the provincial minister of Municipal Affairs and the Environment, also attended.

One Banting, two Vanier

The Banting Post-doctoral Fellowships and the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships are the country’s most prestigious awards for doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows. Memorial has been awarded one new Banting Fellowship and two new Vanier Scholarships.

From left, Colin Holloway, President Kachanoski, Kirsty Duncan, Ernest Awoonor-Williams, Quinn Webber, Madeleine Mant, Chancellor Susan Dyer Knight, Seamus O’Regan and Nick Whalen in the Suncor Energy Hall on Sept. 14.
Photo: Mike Ritter

“The Government of Canada values the role that young researchers play in producing the knowledge, discoveries and innovations that help build a strong future for Canada,” said Minister Duncan, a researcher herself who, in the late ’90s, led a team of international experts to Svalbard, Norway – north of the Arctic Circle – to collect tissue samples from seven miners who died of the Spanish flu, which killed between 20 and 50 million people following the First World War.

President Gary Kachanoski praised Memorial’s three young researchers and thanked the federal government for its commitment to the university.

“One of our most supportive partners in developing and investing in robust innovation happening at Memorial is the federal government and I thank Minister Duncan and her department for coming to Memorial to congratulate our talented faculty and graduate student researchers,” said Dr. Kachanoski. “This funding ensures they will continue to make positive contributions and strengthen Canada’s research-based economy.”

The three profiled researchers illustrate the range of disciplines being supported.

Best of the best

Dr. Madeleine Mant, 2016-17 Banting Fellow and post-doctoral fellow in archaeology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, is conducting an integrated study of human skeletal remains and historical documents with a particular emphasis on how historical health-related events affected the lifestyles and activities of individuals in the past, particularly the poor.

Ernest Awoonor-Williams, 2017 Vanier scholar and a second-year PhD student in the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, is identifying druggable targets in proteins to assist drug developers in designing better drugs to combat cancer.

Quinn Webber, 2016 Vanier scholar and a PhD student in cognitive/behavioural ecology, Faculty of Science, is focused on the social behaviour, habitat selection, and parasitism of caribou in Newfoundland with particular emphasis on the Fogo Island herd.

In addition to Mr. Awoonor-Williams, Memorial has been awarded another 2017 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. Christina Prokopenko, a graduate student in ecology, Faculty of Science, is currently conducting field work in Manitoba until February and was thus unable to attend the event.

Read more about Memorial’s Vanier scholars here.

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