GRADflix 2021 finalists
Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs received a record number of GRADflix submission for the 2020-2021 competition year, and we're happy to present this year's 25 finalists!
Learn more about each of our finalists below, and find out the results of the GRADflix 2021 Showcase on the GRADflix hall of fame page.
Name and program: Adam Grottoli, MSc student, Biology
GRADflix video title: Bats and methylmercury (YouTube)
Supervisor: Dr. Hugh Broders
Biography: Adam Grottoli is currently completing his MSc degree, researching the ecology and ecotoxicology of bats. Before coming to Waterloo, Adam graduated with a HBSc in Biology and Environmental Science from McMaster University. He has also spent time in New Zealand, where he helped conduct avian research on the ecology of the Pukeko bird. In his spare time, you might catch Adam on the ski slopes, rock climbing, knitting, camping, or listening to music.
Name and program: Anika Chiang, MSc Student, Geography and Environmental Management
GRADflix video title: Nutrient leaching in agriculture (YouTube)
Supervisor: Dr. Merrin Macrae
Biography: 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. She chose this program because it aligns with her research interests, which can be summarized by five keywords: hydrology, watersheds, agriculture, climate change and wetlands. She completed her undergraduate degree at McMaster University in Biology and Environmental Sciences with a minor in Geographic Information Systems. Outside of academics, she is also an athlete, artist, and adventurist.
Name and program: Anna Murynka, MA student, Psychology
GRADflix video title: Mediums for self-help (YouTube)
Supervisor: Dr. Colin Ellard
Biography: For her undergraduate degree at UBC, Anna Murynka studied environmental design (architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design). After five years working in the film industry as a science fiction set designer, Anna joined Dr. Colin Ellard's Urban Realities Lab as a cognitive neuroscience graduate student. Anna is researching immersive environments as a tool for self-help. She is known on the internet as @ahnmur.
Name and program: Ben Szoller, PhD candidate, Religious Studies
GRADflix video title: Catholic social and ecological teaching in Canadian farming communities (YouTube)
Supervisor: Dr. David Seljak
Biography: Ben Szoller is a PhD candidate in the Department of Religious Studies. Before studying at the University of Waterloo, he earned degrees in fine art, education and, more recently, a Master of Theological Studies (University of Toronto) with a specialization in theology and ecology. Ben’s research interests include agricultural ethics and the relationship between religious organizations and government policy. When not studying, he can be found helping with the family dairy in Stratford, Ontario, or exploring trails with his partner and their trusty sidekick, Potato (a very loyal hound dog).
Name and program: Claudia Sehl, PhD student, Psychology
GRADflix video title: Preferences for novelty impacts our everyday choices (YouTube)
Supervisors: Dr. Ori Friedman and Dr. Stephanie Denison
Biography: Claudia Sehl is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Psychology. Her research focuses on children’s information search and the development of irrational thinking. She completed her MASc in Developmental and Communication Science at the University of Waterloo, and her Bachelor of Arts in psychology and philosophy at Western University. In her spare time, Claudia enjoys downhill skiing, snowshoeing, and visiting art museums.
Name and program: Erin Fortier, MA student, History
GRADflix video title: Urban waste management in medieval England (YouTube)
Supervisor: Dr. Steven Bednarski
Biography: Erin Fortier graduated from the University of Waterloo in 2018. Her research interests include medieval environmental history, urban waste management, and pre-modern public health. For her master's thesis she is studying industrial waste management in medieval southern England. Erin is balancing her master's research with learning Latin, writing novels, and spending time with her dog, Gibson.
Name and program: Gillian Williams, PhD candidate, School of Public Health and Health Systems
GRADflix video title: Substance use and mental health among Canadian high school students (YouTube)
Supervisor: Dr. Scott Leatherdale
Biography: Gillian Williams is a 4th year PhD candidate in the School of Public Health and Health Systems and is a part of the COMPASS research team. Her thesis work focuses on substance use and mental health among Canadian high school students. In her spare time, she enjoys working out and hiking with her dog.
Name and program: Joseph Varga, PhD candidate, Biology
GRADflix video title: From farm to fork: The potential role of antimicrobial peptides in modulating fish health and disease (YouTube)
Supervisor: Dr. Brian Dixon
Biography: Joseph Varga is a PhD candidate in the lab of Dr. Brian Dixon. He completed his MSc degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology and an HBSc in Biological Sciences and Neuroscience at the University of Guelph. His current research interests include antimicrobial peptides and how they modulate the immune system of animals. Joseph hopes to pursue an exciting career as a veterinary scientist in the near future. Outside the lab, he enjoys volunteering, swimming, baking, reading, learning new languages, and travelling across Europe.
Name and program: JuHyeong Ryu, PhD candidate, Civil and Environmental Engineering
GRADflix video title: Advanced training system (YouTube)
Supervisors: Dr. Carl T. Haas and Dr. Eihab Abdel-Rahman
Biography: JuHyeong Ryu is pursuing his PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He received his bachelor's degree in Architectural Engineering from Dankook University in 2010. JuHyeong also received a master's degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2016. His PhD research focuses on assessing construction workers' safe and productive working motions and techniques, using kinematic data obtained from a wearable inertial measurement units (IMUs) suit. In his free time, JuHyeong enjoys rock climbing, playing tennis and golf, and hiking.
Name and program: Kayleanna Giesinger, MES student, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development
GRADflix video title: Economic development decision support system for sustainable development (YouTube)
Supervisor: Dr. Jeffrey Wilson
Biography: Kayleanna Giesinger is pursuing a master's degree in Sustainability Management (MES) at the University of Waterloo. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Environmental Engineering from the University of Waterloo and is passionate about developing sustainable futures through industry and education. She has worked in the areas of affordable energy access (with the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy), mine impacted water treatment (with the Frank Gu Lab Team at the University of Toronto), and open channel flow geomorphology (with the Bruce MacVicar Research Team at the University of Waterloo). She has done additional community work on accessible education with Frontier College, engineering education research in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, and international development with Engineers Without Borders. She has interests in scientific accessibility and sharing of knowledge, specifically in how science, technology, engineering and complex systems theory mathematics impact our societal and global systems. For more information on Kayleanna and her work, visit her website.
Name and program: Lilian Toma, MSc student, School of Pharmacy
GRADflix video title: Novel molecules to treat COVID-19 (YouTube)
Supervisor: Dr. Praveen Nekkar Rao
Biography: Lilian Toma is a Master of Science in Pharmacy candidate at the University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy. Her fascination with drug development led her to the Nekkar lab where she is currently investigating new COVID-19 treatments. She completed her Bachelor of Science at the University of Waterloo in the Biomedical Sciences program. Lilian works part-time as a personal support worker and loves to spend her spare time volunteering and hanging out with her puppy, Cece. Her experiences have shown her that she feels best when supporting others, whether that’s directly as a caregiver, or indirectly by researching new treatments for diseases.
Name and program: Luke Hagar, MMath student, Statistics and Actuarial Science
GRADflix video title: Beyond p-values: Sample size determination using Bayesian statistics (YouTube)
Supervisor: Dr. Nathaniel Stevens
Biography: Luke Hagar graduated last year from the University of Waterloo with a Bachelor of Mathematics, majoring in Mathematical Optimization and Statistics. He is currently a student in the Master of Mathematics in Statistics program. His current research areas include experimental design, sample size determination methods, and hypothesis testing in the Bayesian paradigm. In his free time, Luke enjoys training for half marathons, watching documentaries, and fine-tuning his Spanish skills. When we can safely travel again, he hopes to backpack through Patagonia. His favourite movie is The Platform and his favourite book is Momo, by Michael Ende.
Name and program: Madu Galappaththi, PhD candidate, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability
GRADflix video title: Gender, wellbeing and dried fish (YouTube)
Supervisors: Dr. Derek Armitage and Dr. Prateep Nayak
Biography: Madu Galappaththi is a PhD candidate in the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability in the Faculty of Environment. Her research interests broadly include understanding human-nature interactions from a governance perspective. Madu’s doctoral research focuses on the governance and institutional context of dried fish value chains, with special attention to social wellbeing and gender dimensions. The geographical focus of her work is on Sri Lanka. Madu holds a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship, an International Development Doctoral Research Award, and a HeForShe Gender Equity Grant, among several other awards. During spare time, Madu enjoys reading and craft-making with her eight-year-old daughter.
Name and program: Megan Dol, PhD student, School of Public Health and Health Systems
GRADflix video title: Multimorbidity and suicidal ideation (YouTube)
Supervisor: Dr. Mark Ferro
Biography: Megan is pursuing a PhD in the School of Public Health and Health Systems (SPHHS) under the supervision of Dr. Mark Ferro. She completed her BSc at the University of Waterloo in 2019 and fast-tracked from her MSc to her current PhD program. Her research interests include youth mental health, multimorbidity, suicidality, problematic substance use, and quantitative research methods. Megan is interested in advocating for graduate student mental health which led her to create a mental health initiatives role in the SPHHS Graduate Student Association with the help of her colleagues. Megan enjoys playing guitar, listening to rock music, exercising, and drinking coffee.
Name and program: Mia Stratton, MSc student, Biology
GRADflix video title: Paleolimnology and a changing delta (YouTube)
Supervisors: Dr. Roland Hall and Dr. Brent Wolfe
Biography: Mia Stratton is a master's student in Biology, studying the effect of climate change on water availability in northern Canada. She has been a student at the University of Waterloo for 6 years now and knows where to find the best studying and napping spots on campus. Outside of being a grad student, she likes to spend her time rock-climbing, hiking, cooking, and playing with her two kittens.
Name and program: Mohammad S. Parsa, MASc student, Management Sciences
GRADflix video title: Identifying public concerns about COVID-19 using social media mining (YouTube)
Supervisor: Dr. Lukasz Golab
Biography: As a master's student in the Department of Management Sciences, Mohammad S. Parsa has conducted research over several years and helped beneficiaries extract insightful results from research data (e.g., social media). Today–at the University of Waterloo– he is driven by social good: namely, working towards a sustainable future, understanding public health, and investigating public education. Apart from doing research, Mohammad really enjoys travelling around while spending as little money as possible (even if it means he has to sleep in the car :)) .
Name and program: Murdoch McKinnon, MSc student, Geography and Environmental Management
GRADflix video title: Reclaiming well pads in our boreal peatlands (YouTube)
Supervisors: Dr. Felix Nwaishi and Dr. Rich Petrone
Biography: Murdoch McKinnon completed his BSc in Environmental Science at Mount Royal University prior to joining the Hydrometeorology Lab as a Geography master's student. His research focuses on assessing the feasibility of a novel technique to reclaim oil and gas well pads in boreal peatlands. Specifically, he is assessing the hydrological and nutrient cycling dynamics contributing to successful vegetation establishment on these former industrial sites. When he isn’t knee-deep in peat, Murdoch enjoys cross country skiing, backpacking, and scrambling in the Canadian Rockies.
Name and program: Nicole Davy, MES student, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability
GRADflix video title: Public engagement around flood mitigation in New Hamburg, ON (YouTube)
Supervisor: Dr. Rob de Loë
Biography: Nicole Davy is a master's student in the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability with a specialization in the Collaborative Water Program. She is passionate about water issues, scientific communication and environmental education. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys hiking, camping and photography.
Name and program: Omar Sadab Chowdhury, MASc, Civil and Environmental Engineering
GRADflix video title: Microplastics in drinking water? (YouTube)
Supervisors: Dr. Monica B. Emelko and Dr. William B. Anderson
Biography: Omar Sadab Chowdhury is in his final term of his Master of Applied Science program in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Waterloo. His graduate research focuses on evaluating the indirect health impacts of microplastic consumption through drinking water. He completed his Bachelor of Engineering degree in Civil Engineering from Islamic University of Technology in Bangladesh, where he was involved with research evaluating treatment efficiencies of household drinking water treatment technologies in the context of developing countries. His interest in research has grown over the years and Omar now aspires to be involved with research that can improve decision making and the wellbeing of communities. Outside of school work, Omar loves to stay active outdoors and likes to go running.
Name and program: Ramashish Gaurav, MASc student, Systems Design Engineering
GRADflix video title: Towards green and energy efficient artificial intelligence (YouTube)
Supervisors: Dr. Bryan Tripp and Dr. Apurva Narayan
Biography: Ramashish Gaurav received his dual degree (Bachelor's and Master's, 2017) in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology - BHU, Varanasi, India. After two and half years of job experience in the software industry, he joined the University of Waterloo as an MASc student in January 2020. Currently, he is conducting research in Computational Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence. He is part of the BRAIN lab, and is jointly supervised by Prof. Bryan Tripp and Prof. Apurva Narayan. In his leisure time, he loves to watch movies with friends and discuss the "Hard problem of Consciousness".
Name and program: Ryan Tennant, MASc student, Systems Design Engineering
GRADflix video title: Improving in-home care with voice-interfaces (YouTube)
Supervisors: Dr. Catherine M. Burns and Dr. Kate Mercer
Biography: Ryan Tennant is a second-year master’s student in the Department of Systems Design Engineering. He completed his undergrad in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Waterloo in 2019 and is currently studying virtually at the Advanced Interface Design Lab. Ryan's research interests are in healthcare, human factors and medical device development. In his free time, Ryan speed skates with the KW Sertoma Speed Skating Club, bakes online with his friends, and drives around aimlessly every other day so that his car battery won’t die… again.
Name and program: Sagar Patel, PhD candidate, Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering
GRADflix video title: Temperatures in metal 3D printing (YouTube)
Supervisor: Dr. Mihaela Vlasea
Biography: Sagar is a PhD candidate in Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering, fortunate to be working with Prof. Vlasea to help industrialize metal additive manufacturing in Canada. He previously studied in Texas and Mumbai for his master's and undergraduate degrees. He happens to be the first in his immediate family to pursue college, and the first person from his entire family tree to pursue a career in STEM. He loves board games as a stress buster. One of his favourite things to do has been to explore the local cuisine thanks to his travels in North America for the better part of the past decade.
Name and program: Shoshannah Speers, MSc student, School of Public Health and Health Systems
GRADflix video title: Community volunteers addressing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines (YouTube)
Supervisor: Dr. Warren Dodd
Biography: Shoshannah Speers is pursing her MSc in Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo. She previously obtained a BA in International Development Studies through the Canadian Mennonite University and a Certificate of Teaching English as an Additional Language from the University of Winnipeg. Shoshannah enjoys exploring the social determinants of global health including the various aspects of well-being. Outside of research, she enjoys baking and travelling.
Name and program: Tatiana Bevilacqua, PhD candidate, School of Public Health and Health Systems
GRADflix video title: Design principles for health informatics (YouTube)
Supervisor: Dr. Plinio Pelegrini Morita
Biography: Tatiana Bevilacqua is a UX designer, with a specialization in knowledge management and a master's degree in Biomedical Engineering. She is currently a PhD candidate in Health informatics at the University of Waterloo where she is exploring design principles in the health informatics context.
Name and program: Taylor Vodopija, MSc student, Geography and Environmental Management
GRADflix video title: Seismic line restoration in peatlands (YouTube)
Supervisors: Dr. Maria Strack and Dr. Felix Nwaishi
Biography: Taylor Vodopija holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a minor in business from Mount Royal University in Calgary. She is now working on a Master of Science degree at the University of Waterloo, where she is researching seismic line restoration in peatlands, as part of the Wetland Soils & Greenhouse Gas Exchange Lab. She loves working outdoors and capturing the beauty of nature through photographs. Taylor also has done folk dancing with the Croatia Heritage Society for 18 years.