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New Vanier Scholars lead the way in research

A record of six doctoral students earn prestigious Vanier Scholarship.

Six Queen’s University students have won the 2015 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship – the most in a single year at Queen’s since the scholarship launched in 2008. In 2014, three Queen’s students earned the prestigious award.

[Vanier Scholarship Recipients]
 Queen's University's 2015 Vanier Doctoral Scholarship recipients. Clockwise from Top Left: Hannah Dies (Chemical Engineering), James Gardner Gregory (Neuroscience), Catherine Normandeau (Neuroscience), Erica Phipps (Kinesiology), Amanda Shamblaw (Psychology) and Ognen Vangelov (Political Studies).

The Vanier program, which awards students $50,000 every year for three years, aims to strengthen Canada's ability to attract and retain world-class doctoral students. It also seeks to establish Canada as a global centre of excellence in research and higher learning.

"Our six new Vanier Scholars exemplify academic achievement, leadership and extraordinary research potential,” says Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. “These talented scholars will not only contribute to the research excellence at Queen’s but also serve as role models and mentors to our research trainees. Congratulations to all winners on their success and best wishes as they focus on research and discovery.”

Hannah Dies (Chemical Engineering) – A PhD candidate in Biomedical Engineering, Ms. Diesdoctoral research centres on creating a portable sensor that may be used to detect pathogenic biomolecules indicative of various types of cancers and bacterial diseases. Portable biosensors may have the ability to make medical diagnoses quickly and efficiently in remote locations without access to laboratory facilities.

James Gardner Gregory (Neuroscience) – Mr. Gregory’s research studies the neurophysiology of feeding. Gonadal hormones, such as androgens and estrogens, have been found to be an essential component for determining the motivation behind food consumption. Although hormonal manipulations are frequently observed to alter food consumption, the exact mechanism behind the potent effect of androgens and estrogens on feeding behaviours is relatively unknown.

Catherine Normandeau (Neuroscience) – Ms. Normandeau’s research aims to identify the cellular changes responsible for the transition from adaptive to maladaptive anxiety. She has focused on a molecule called neurotensin, a peptide found in the brain that has been previously investigated as a possible treatment for schizophrenia. In previous studies, blocking neurotensin has led to a significant reduction in pathological anxiety.  Since anxiety and depression so often occur together, this research also explores whether neurotensin might be involved in depression.

Erica Phipps (Kinesiology & Health Studies​) – Ms. Phipps’ doctoral research as a Vanier Scholar will focus on environmental influences on health. She aims to expand upon her previous work as executive director of the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment and the work of environmental health equity advocates across the country. Ms. Phipps sees her doctoral research as the chance to apply a “structured and methodological way of learning” to issues that she has already encountered in the field.

Amanda Shamblaw (Psychology) – Ms. Shamblaw’s research interest focuses on the intergenerational transmission of depression. She examines how physical touch, vocal characteristics, and talking about the minds of others contribute to this relationship. For her doctoral research, set to start in the fall, she will extend her research to focus on infants, in particular how postpartum depression affects infant attachment through both reciprocal attachment and infant neurological factors.

Ognen Vangelov (Political Studies) – Mr. Vangelov’s doctoral research focuses on the problem of “un-democratization.” In his own words, un-democratization is the current process of democratic regression, and he intends to take a closer look at the phenomenon using Hungary and Macedonia as examples.

For more information, visit the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships website.