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Recognizing outstanding research potential

Queen’s welcomes record seven Vanier Scholarship recipients.

Seven Queen’s University students have won the 2016 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship – surpassing the previous record of six recipients set in 2015 and the most in a single year at Queen’s since the scholarship was launched in 2008.

"Our seven new Vanier Scholars have shown their tremendous research potential,” says Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean, School of Graduate Studies. “These are Canada’s most prestigious awards for doctoral students and will put these young scholars on solid footing for future research success. We are very proud of their accomplishments and grateful that these talented trainees have chosen Queen’s. They will no doubt make significant scholarly contributions and, in so doing, advance our commitment to research excellence.”

Anja-Xiaoxing Cui (Psychology) will focus her research on the mechanisms within the brain that allow for us to understand, appreciate and learn about music. By measuring brain activity in subjects as they listen to unfamiliar music, as well as tracking children’s sense of music over the course of lessons, she aims to learn more about how the brain analyzes and learns new music and how quickly new information can be gained.

Exploring the diverse field of rheology – the study of the flow of complex matter, including liquids and so-called ‘soft solids’ – Peter Gilbert (Chemical Engineering) plans to explore the relationship between molecular structure of polymeric liquids and their rheological properties. His doctoral research aims to predict the behaviour of polymers in various conditions or applications; improving our understanding of how these materials behave during the manufacturing process and leading to more effective processing methods.

Fiona Haxho (Biology) intends to study the cell-signalling mechanisms involved in pancreatic cancer. In particular, her research is focused on a mammalian enzyme called neuraminidase-1 and its role in tumour growth, development and resistance to chemotherapy, amongst other things. Her doctoral research aims to target this enzyme and determine its functional role in models of pancreatic cancer.

Jackie Huberman (Psychology) aims to empirically and comprehensively examine a model of women’s sexual response. Her research will specifically evaluate how women’s mind-body connection with respect to sexual arousal and neural responses – including sexual functioning, sexual schemas, and stress – may impact sexual desire. With the knowledge gained from her dissertation, she hopes to help shift society’s conceptualization of female sexual response to reflect more accurately women’s experiences.

Focusing on the issue of human-lion conflict in Africa, Sandra McCubbin (Geography) will explore the politics of lion conservation in Botswana. Home to approximately 3,200 lions, Botswana is the site of intense human-lion conflict – a significant issue in Africa, especially in the borderlands of parks that often overlap with human settlements. Her research aims to explore the network of actors involved in producing this conflict in an effort to understand the issue better and identity where power structures may be renegotiated to enhance co-existence of humans and lions.

Studying under renowned bullying expert, Dr. Wendy Craig, Laura Lambe (Psychology) aims to explore how bullying affects students who witness the aggressive acts as bystanders or intervene as defenders. Her research will address whether certain types of intervention are associated with more favourable outcomes. She also intends to investigate the social contextual factors that predict how students will use different types of defensive behaviour. By more effectively quantifying the effects of intervention, researchers and policy makers will be able to endorse specific, evidence-based defending behaviours that are beneficial for both youth who are victimized and for youth who are defenders.

Jane Thomson (Law) will focus her doctoral research on instances of progressive legal reform achieved using private law doctrine; a goal more commonly achieved through the application of public law legislation, such as human rights legislation or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Currently she is looking at the issue of racism or religious intolerance in private wills and what use, if any, a court may make of the common law doctrine of public policy to void a provision in a will that seeks to discriminate against a beneficiary based on race, or promotes racism in some other way.

The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship awards $150,000 over three years to up to 167 doctoral students across Canada every year. It aims to strengthen Canada's ability to attract and retain world-class doctoral students, by supporting students who demonstrate both leadership skills and high standard of scholarly achievement in graduate studies in the social sciences and/or humanities, natural sciences and/or engineering and health.