MSc student, Public Health and Health Systems

Why did you choose to pursue graduate studies at the University of Waterloo?

Being a clinician, I understood the importance of quality research in improving health outcomes, which was one reason I became drawn to research. So, when I decided to pursue my graduate studies, I was mainly looking out for schools that are well invested in cutting-edge research and innovation. Also, I sought a supportive environment and team, which I believe paves a way for excellence, collaboration and growth. Simply put, University of Waterloo was a good fit.

Adaora EnumahDescribe your research and what makes you passionate about it:

My research borders on the influence of the environment on brain health. It focuses on the effect of primary/direct and secondary/indirect psychosocial stress on learning and memory. Through my research, I intend to answer questions relating to changes in plasticity-related proteins (e.g., Glutamate receptor proteins, which are involved in learning and memory) due to psychosocial stress in the prefrontal cortex (an area of brain that plays a unique role in executive functioning). In addition, I intend to evaluate for sex differences in these plasticity-related proteins. My passion for this area of research stems from its widespread benefits across clinical and pharmaceutical disciplines (seeing that every individual has stressful experiences), coupled with being an intellectually stimulating and novel area of research. As far as we know, there are no existing studies on the effect of secondary psychosocial stress on these important proteins involved in learning and memory, and existing studies that have examined primary psychosocial stress effects are limited and have majorly focused on male species.

Tell us about where you are from:

I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. I obtained my first degree in Dental Surgery from the Lagos State University College of Medicine where I graduated as the best student (summa cum laude), and as the first student to graduate with an honours degree from the college (one of my most prized achievements so far).

Tell us about what activities, groups and events you are involved in: 

I served as the Chief of Staff for the SPHS Grad student association, where I supported the office of the Co-Presidents in advocating for students, acting as a resource, and organizing events. In addition, I serve as the graduate representative in the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee of the SPHS, where we brainstorm on ways to continually ensure an inclusive and safe space within our community, and also embrace the beauty of our diverse multicultural backgrounds and experiences.

What campus services have you accessed and how have they been useful to your academics or your well-being as a student?

The Writing and Communication Centre workshops, particularly the one on "clarity in writing" was a very useful resource for me. I have also accessed the Student Success Office, where I participated in the student leadership program and other events they organized. These programs and events further prepared me to take on leadership roles.

How has grad school helped you develop your teaching skills?

I am really grateful that the university set us on the right foot through various training courses for teaching assistants, as well as the online teaching preceptor course, all of which I participated in. I was able to further hone these skills through working as a teaching assistant in various courses. In addition, my supervisor was kind enough to extend invitations for me to partake in laboratory teaching/demonstration sessions for an undergraduate course.

How do you spend your free time?

One of my favourite things to do during my "free" time would be hiking (I have really enjoyed discovering and exploring trails within the region). I also enjoy exploring the town, trying out dishes from various countries, getting together for some chit-chat with friends, and watching tv shows. As well, I participate in intra-mural volleyball teams within the university.

Country of origin: Nigeria

Domestic or International: International

Academic stream: Research

Full-time or part-time: Full-time

Research supervisorJohn Mielke

Graduate student awards held: International Masters, Award of Excellence, University of Waterloo Grad Scholarship, AHS Grad experience award

TA/RA or GRS held: TA/RA

University of Waterloo