2019 - Stephanie Gumuchian

Stephanie Gumuchian is pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology at Concordia University.  Stephanie is conducting a study on the effects of oxytocin as an adjunct treatment to traditional psychotherapy for patients with Major Depressive Disorder – a debilitating mental health disorder.  She hopes to disseminate her findings in an academic realm as well as to clinicians and their patients to help them benefit and learn from her research findings.  Stephanie is dedicated to positively impacting the lives of people suffering from mental illness.

Stephanie has a robust catalogue of publications and presentations as well as being a recipient of many scholastic awards.  She is committed to being an active member of her academic and local communities. Her references were very enthusiastic in praising her academic accomplishments as well as her community service and leadership.

2019 - Elisa Guma

Elisa is a PhD candidate in the Integrated Program in Neuroscience at McGill University in Montreal, QC, under the supervision of Dr. Mallar Chakravarty. 

The title of her thesis is "Studying prenatal exposure to maternal immune activation as risk factor for neurodevelopmental disorders in mice: from the fetus to adulthood"


"I investigate how exposure to prenatal maternal immune activation, a known risk factor for psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder, affects offspring brain development in mice as a model species. For this work I leverage both longitudinal in vivo MRI and behavioural assessments to study child, adolescent, and adult development as well as ex vivo MRI and post-mortem assays to investigate fetal and neonatal development."

2018 - Alice Musabende

Alice Musabende is currently pursuing a PhD in Politics and International Relations at the University of Cambridge, in the UK. 

Alice's research focuses on the effects of external involvement in the policy making processes of the African Union. She investigates if and how a proliferation of international actors impacts collective action of African states and their behavior in the international system.


At Cambridge, she is a Gates Cambridge scholar as well as a SSHRC scholar.

Before moving to Cambridge, Alice was a political journalist based in Ottawa, Canada, where she worked for iPolitics and CBC among other Canadian news organizations.


Born and raised in Rwanda, Alice graduated from the University of Rwanda. She also holds a Master's of Journalism from Carleton University and a Master's of International Development Studies from Dalhousie University.

2018 - Sanjana Shellikeri

University of Toronto

Sanjana Shellikeri's research focuses on characterizing the neural correlates of bulbar Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a fatal and devastating neurodegenerative disease that affects muscles involved in speech and swallowing functions. Her PhD work combines magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and neuropathology of cadaver brain tissue to understand motor and cognitive-linguistic deficits in bulbar ALS.


Over the course of her MSc and PhD programs, Sanjana has published five first-author manuscripts and contributed to four other peer-reviewed publications. She has presented her work at numerous national and international conferences, and recently won the best presentation award at one of the most prestigious conferences in her field. Her academic achievements include two consecutive years of the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, and numerous travel awards. 


Sanjana is also a full-time caregiver for her mother, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2010. She shows her support for the ALS community by fundraising annually for the Walk for ALS events and as a volunteer at the ALS Society of Canada. She hosted two online forums on reddit.com to answer ALS-related questions, both in her capacity as an emerging researcher and as an active caregiver for someone living with the disease. She hopes to follow the academic path with the goal of establishing herself as an independent researcher and contribute her growing skills and expertise to improve the lives of people suffering from ALS.

2017 - Anita Acai

McMaster University

Anita impressed the committees with her description of her journey to her current PhD candidacy in the field of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour.  Her story of confidence gained, lost and transformation borne of failure was very engaging.  The enthusiasm she has for the work she is doing shone through in her application.


Her area of study focuses of the role of competence committees in surgical education.  Her goal is to create practical guidelines for committees to utilize in reviewing future health professionals by analyzing how they operate in practice, influences at play, the impact of cognitive biases in the decision-making process.


Anita has an impressive list of academic awards and a lengthy catalogue of articles, presentations, reports and publications.  


Anita also demonstrated her dedication to community service both within the university as part of student government and as a strong advocate for mental health services for graduate students and as a volunteer with the Red Cross.

2017 - Victoria McPhail

York University

Victoria’s enthusiasm for nature and bumble bees led her to research to determine reasons for decline in populations of rare species of bumble bees.  She is proposing to analyze data collected from volunteers through BumbleBeeWatch.org to answer important questions and help fill knowledge gaps regarding population decline and improve and influence conservation policies related to bumble bees.


She has a very impressive body of published work and presentations.  Victoria is the winner of many academic and civic awards and scholarships throughout her academic career.  In 2014 she was recognized as one of the Guelph Mercury’s top “40 under 40” recognizing her volunteer and professional contributions.

Victoria has also demonstrated an ability to share her findings and passion for pollinators with the public through media interviews, publications as well as implementing programs and workshops to educate people about bumble bees and recruiting volunteers to help monitor bees.


Victoria has also put her passion for nature and bees to work in a volunteer capacity – founding Pollination Guelph which is an organization dedicated to protecting pollinators and their habitats.  She is also a long-standing leader in Girl Guides with over 25 years as a guide leader being a role model for girls and young women.

2017- Catherine Shaffer

Simon Fraser University

Catherine’s research is focused on finding ways to reduce adolescent dating violence by adapting the risk management tools used assess and manage the risk of spousal violence for use with adolescents.  She hopes that the guidelines that she develops will be used by professional to help facilitate the case management of offenders and safety planning for victims.  Catherine hopes that her research will improve policy and decision-making processes in the justice and mental health fields.  To reach her goals she will assist with the development of approaches to help reduce violence, conduct research to examine factors associated with forms of intimate violence and design community outreach initiatives for violence mitigation.  She also hopes to continue teaching and mentoring and has taken training to that end.

Catherine has been an active member of her university community throughout her university career holding positions in student government and faculty organizations. She has demonstrated her dedication to her area of study with action by volunteering with an organization that supports violence prevention and intervention services to battered women.

Catherine has demonstrated great success in academia, she has received many awards over her academic career.  She has garnered praise for her future potential and demonstrated outstanding leadership as a teacher and mentor as well as a researcher. 


2016 - Sara King-Dowling

McMaster University 

Sara King-Dowling is studying Developmental Coordination Disorder a neurodevelopmental condition where children have persistent problems with fine and gross motor coordination.  Her work is studying the impact on the cardiovascular health of children with this condition.


Sara has spent her academic career at McMaster University.   She has been the recipient of several awards and has a strong catalogue of publications.


She is active in her school community as a graduate student, union representative and intramural athlete.  She is also a volunteer in the wider community organizing running events and mentoring at-risk youth in school based physical activity programs.


Sara’s goals are to continue to improve the health and well-being of children with motor coordination difficulties through research and a career in academia.

2016 - Kimberley LeBlanc

Queen's University School of Nursing (skintears.org)

Kimberly LeBlanc is a registered nurse studying the impact of skin tears on the elderly patients in long term care with a goal of prevention and saving individuals from pain and suffering from these injuries.


Kimberly has a distinguished career as a nurse with prodigious publications and presentations as well as being the recipient of several awards.  Her academic career began at McGill University where she was also a student athlete, representing McGill in volleyball.  She is currently doing her PhD at the Queen’s University School of Nursing.

2016 - Lisa Kennedy

Trent University, Avian Ecophysiology

Lisa Kennedy is studying the impact of snow goose migration into arctic shorebird breeding grounds.   Her work includes assessing the direct and indirect impacts of geese on shorebirds and the carryover effects in shorebird migration as the populations of geese continue to increase. This study is an attempt to understand the impact of overabundant geese in the Arctic on habitat and other wildlife and the conservation challenges this presents.


Lisa started her academic career at University of Western Ontario obtaining her B.Sc. Honours and M.Sc before moving to Trent University to pursue her PhD.


Lisa’s goals are to contribute to the scientific community through research and teaching particularly in the areas of animal ecophysiology and avian conservation.  A career in academia to promote these issues is her future goal.

She has developed a successful science outreach website describing issues in arctic ecology research and is dedicated to promoting science and conservation.


In addition to her academic work Lisa is involved in her community with interests such as taxidermy and working with Therapeutic Paws of Canada as well as mentoring students in the Arctic Research program.


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