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Emerging researchers earn national support

Three doctoral candidates and a researcher recently received Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships while a researcher received a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship. From left: Midori Ogasawara; Oluwatobiloba “Tobi” Moody; Tyler Cluff; and Mike Best. Supplied photos

By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

Four promising Queen’s researchers recently won national awards.

Doctoral candidates Mike Best, Oluwatobiloba “Tobi” Moody and Midori Ogasawara each received Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships worth $50,000 per year over the next three years. The federal government established the program in 2008 to attract and retain world-class doctoral students and to make Canada world-renowned for excellence in research and higher learning.

The same day the Vanier Scholars were announced, Tyler Cluff learned he was the recipient of a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship, a bursary program that provides funding to the top postdoctoral applicants, both nationally and internationally, who will positively contribute to the country's economic, social and research based growth.

Dr. Cluff will receive $70,000 per year over the next two years, which will allow him to test promising new ideas in movement neuroscience, including how humans use sensory information about their bodies and the world around them to make skilled movements.

“This research will not only help us understand basic aspects of motor control and learning, but may lead to advancements in neurological assessment tools and treatment options for movement impaired individuals,” says Dr. Cluff, who is a member of Dr. Stephen Scott’s Laboratory of Integrative Motor Behaviour (LIMB) in Queen’s Centre for Neuroscience Studies.

As a Vanier Scholar, Mr. Best (Psychology) plans to build on his master’s thesis that found members of the general population have an early neurobiological bias towards the speech of people with schizophrenia that results in reduced attention and processing of what someone with schizophrenia is saying. This bias could be a major factor in understanding why people with schizophrenia are excluded, he says.

“Receiving the Vanier CGS provides me with the freedom and financial support to focus more thoroughly on conducting and disseminating my research,” says Mr. Best, who won this year’s Queen’s 3 Minute Thesis Competition. “Social exclusion can be devastating for people with psychosis. With the support of this award I can continue to expand my work to reduce social exclusion and improve the lives of millions of people living with psychosis.”

Mr. Moody (Law) is analyzing the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol, the legal framework that is intended to ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

Mr. Moody is examining biopiracy debates as well as ongoing related efforts to protect traditional knowledge in international forums. He argues that a coherent global intellectual property system is critical for the Nagoya Protocol’s effective implementation and, ultimately, for the effective protection of traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources.

“The Vanier Scholarship represents to me a humbling affirmation of the significance and importance of my current research within the context of ongoing international efforts to address the effective protection of the traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources of indigenous peoples and local communities,” says Mr. Moody, a Nigerian by birth who started his PhD in the Faculty of Law in September 2012. “I am elated as the Scholarship will equip me with resources to enable me participate in relevant conferences and will afford me the opportunity to devote maximum time and concentration to the development of quality research in this area.”

Ms. Ogasawara (Sociology) is examining the development of national identification systems in Japan from the colonial times to today. The focus of her PhD will be the origins developed in Manchu-kuo, an area of northeast China occupied by the Japan from the 1920s to 1945, as well as the roles of the national ID systems in relation to the colonization then and neoliberal economy nowadays.

“I am very excited to receive a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship because it enables my research to expand to a geographically wider scope and pursue the historical understanding,” says Ms. Ogasawara. “As an international student who has a domestic responsibility for a young child, there would be no other scholarships that could support me in the same way as the Vanier scholarship does.”