Three doctoral students at the University of Waterloo whose research will mitigate infectious diseases, combat homophobia, and enable healthier sexual relationships were recognized with prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship awards. 

Portrait of Paul Chen

Paul Chen, from the Faculty of Engineering, will use his Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada scholarship continue his research of next-generation diagnostics for infectious diseases. He is a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemical Engineering. His work uses nano-sized gold particles as a means to detect and identify pathogens that cause infectious disease. This unique process could allow medical labs to quickly diagnose a multitude of infectious diseases through a single test and in only a couple of hours.

portrait of Harrison Oakes

Harrison Oakes, a psychology PhD candidate in the Faculty of Arts, specializing in social psychology, will use his Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) scholarship to conduct research and develop strategies that will address the root cause of social prejudice — such as ageism and homophobia — and enhance connections between different social groups. Along with advancing understanding of what causes prejudice, his research will help to increase peoples’ sense of social connection using inexpensive strategies.

Portrait of Siobhan SutherlandSiobhan Sutherland, also a psychology PhD candidate in the Faculty of Arts, who is specializing in clinical psychology, will use her Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) scholarship to examine if and how discussions by couples about their sexual life are more mentally draining than nonsexual discussions. As part of her research, which aims to improve the quality of romantic relationships, she will test a communication technique called cognitive reappraisal to determine if it helps to facilitate healthy sexual communication between partners.

“We are very proud of our Vanier scholars,” said Jeffrey Casello, Associate Provost, Graduate Studies. “Their research will advance the social, mental and physical well-being of Canadians and people around the world.  Their recognition with these prestigious awards speaks to the breadth of scholarship at Waterloo, spanning engineering and social sciences, with an emphasis on health.”

The Government of Canada launched the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships (Vanier CGS) program in 2008 to strengthen Canada's ability to attract and retain world-class doctoral students and establish Canada as a global centre of excellence in research and higher learning. Vanier Scholars demonstrate leadership skills and a high standard of scholarly achievement in graduate studies in the social sciences and/or humanities, natural sciences and/or engineering and health. Vanier scholarships are valued at $50,000 per year over the course of three years.

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