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Concordia welcomes 4 new Vanier scholars

Montreal, July 6, 2012 Securing the funds to pursue passions in academic research is every doctoral student's dream. Thanks to the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships, four new Concordia PhD candidates are getting to do exactly that.

Brigitte Desharnais, Matthew Keough, Kiran Kumar and David Szanto will begin their doctoral studies at Concordia with guaranteed funding of $50,000 a year over three years, thanks to the Vanier CGS.

Designed to help Canadian universities attract and retain world-class doctoral students, these scholarships provide invaluable support for students as they pursue research projects that touch on subjects ranging from natural sciences to engineering, to the humanities and social sciences.

"Our new cohort of Vanier recipients have great leadership potential and are high achievers in their respective academic fields," says Graham Carr, Concordia's Dean of Graduate Studies. "Concordia's ability to attract students of this caliber is a further demonstration of the university's strong research, creative and training environment, and their success will inevitably bring greater recognition to our meaningful contributions to knowledge, innovation and society."

The students echo Carr's enthusiasm.

Brigitte Desharnais is looking forward to pursuing PhD in chemistry collaboration with Quebec's only forensic science laboratory. Her goal is look at metabolizing enzymes in the liver, post-mortem, in order to determine the cause of drug-adverse reactions.

Explains Desharnais: "This could significantly help forensic pathologists and toxicologists to better define the cause and circumstances of death in cases involving drug use, which can definitely have a positive impact on grieving families."

For Matthew Keough, receiving a Vanier scholarship for his PhD in psychology will be life changing in many ways. Not only will he be able to conduct groundbreaking empirical work on the complex relation between stress and alcohol use in young adults, he will be able to travel the world and present his research to other experts in the field of substance misuse.

"As a Vanier scholar," says Keough, "I want to inspire and motivate others to get to where they want to be in life."

Kiran Vadaga sees the Vanier CGS as an important tool that will help him pursue innovative research in cognitive aging as he embarks upon doctoral studies in psychology. Says Vadaga, "my research looks at how older adults deal with different types of irrelevant information. Are distractors in the environment, previous goals and inappropriate habitual responses specifically age-sensitive distractions?"

His research represents not only a methodological improvement in measuring different types of irrelevant information, but also informs the theories of cognitive aging.

For David Szanto, receiving a Vanier scholarship will help further legitimize academic food scholarship. Explains Szanto, "taking food as a complex system of ecologies, rather than simply as 'the stuff that we feed ourselves with,' helps show the non-separation of humans and their environments."

Ultimately, through his doctoral research within Concordia's Special Individualized Program, he hopes to show where the possibilities for reframing our food 'realities' might help engender alternative solutions to critical food issues, as well as bring about new ways of creating and representing knowledge about food and our own selves.

The broad research interest of these four new Concordia scholars speaks not only to the broad scope supported by the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships, but also to the wide array of research that has long been embraced here at Concordia.


Contact: Clea Desjardins
514-848-2424 x5068
Concordia University

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