Catching up with GRADflix 2021 award winners

Learn more about each of our GRADflix 2021 award winners by watching the short video interviews below. Read further to catch up with our 2021 People's Choice winner, Anika Chiang. To find out more about all the previous GRADflix winners, visit the GRADflix hall of fame page. 

Anna Murynka head shot

2021 First place winner ($750): Anna Murynka, Psychology, Faculty of Arts

GRADflix video titleMediums for self-help (YouTube)

Get in touch with Anna via email


Anna shares the value of communicating your research simply (particularly if you want your friends or family to take an interest in it!) and highlights the importance of sharing your research publicly, especially if you are receiving scholarships or working in a lab. Your research should be heard!


Murdoch Mckinnon head shot

2021 Second place winner ($500): Murdoch McKinnon, MSc student, Geography and Environmental Management

GRADflix video title: Reclaiming well pads in our boreal peatlands (YouTube)

Get in touch with Murdoch via email or connect with Murdoch on LinkedIn

Murdoch talks us through his creative process using stop motion animation for the first time to produce his final, award winning product. Murdoch’s advice? Jump in with both feet and figure it out along the way, the supports are there for you to succeed, and you'll learn a lot along the way!

Ben Szoller

2021 Third place winner ($250): Ben Szoller, PhD candidate, Religious Studies

GRADflix video titleCatholic social and ecological teaching in Canadian farming communities (YouTube)

Get in touch with Ben via email or connect with Ben on LinkedIn

Ben talks about how he used support and resources from Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) to create his award winning video, as well as how he's using his video now as a handy recruitment tool.


Madu Galappaththi head shot

2021 Fourth place winner ($250): Madu Galappaththi, PhD candidate, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability

GRADflix video titleGender, wellbeing and dried fish (YouTube)

Get in touch with Madu via email and check out the Environmental Change & Governance Group profile

Madu talks us through the process of making her award winning video and highlights the importance of sharing your research, no matter what level you are at in your program.


Anika Chiang head shot

2021 People's Choice winner ($250): Anika Chiang, MSc Student, Geography and Environmental Management

GRADflix video title: Nutrient leaching in agriculture (YouTube)

Get in touch with Anika via email

Anika Chiang is a first-year master's student in the Geography (Water) program at the University of Waterloo, working under the supervision of Merrin Macrae. Her research interests can be summarized by five keywords: hydrology, watersheds, agriculture, climate change and wetlands.  

For Anika, creating a video was a great challenge to communicate her research in a simplified way. 

“I participated in GRADflix because I wanted to challenge myself to simplify a complicated topic into a one-minute video. This is important because there are a lot of people who are not familiar with my field and being able to simplify research into layman terms is a valuable skill. I was surprised that my video was so well received by my peers.” 

Before GRADflix, Anika did not have any video editing experience.  

“I started the video making process by creating a storyboard with the general image and the message I wanted to convey. Then I downloaded an app called “RoughAnimator” and drew the video frame by frame, ending up with roughly 1500 frames.” 

It’s those 1500 engaging frames that grabbed the attention GRADflix 2021 Showcase viewers who voted for Anika to win the People’s Choice Award.

“I think my video stood out to the audience because it was easy to follow and visually appealing. I tried to explain my research like a story with some background, covering the who, what, where, when and why. I attempted to keep the audience engaged by having movement in every slide. The periodic table scene where each essential element was highlighted separately was an example of such, holding the audience’s engagement.” 

In the future, Anika hopes to use her video to explain her research to my friends and family and promote my video further by posting it on my social media accounts to spread awareness. 

“Although it is time consuming, I realize the benefits of this media for communicating ideas, especially to the public on a massive level.”