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Posted September 25 , 2013


University of Waterloo researchers win seven major awards

WATERLOO – Transformational research at the University of Waterloo received major support yesterday as the recipients of the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships and the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships were announced.

Four postdoctoral researchers awarded prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships will be based at Waterloo, and three graduate students from Waterloo received distinguished Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships.

"I am thrilled and proud that Waterloo received four Banting fellowships this year, when only 70 are awarded across the country," said Sue Horton, associate provost, graduate studies at Waterloo. "The four winners represent a great range of talent, from areas as diverse as membrane biophysics and Mennonite literature, from quantum gravity to energy storage."

Two of the winners of the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships are in the Faculty of Science. The others will each conduct their research in the Faculty of Mathematics and the Faculty of Arts.

• The work of William (Drew) Bennett of the Department of Chemistry will focus on bioactive molecules, and has applications for drug delivery and personalized medicine. His fellowship is from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). His work fits into the university's strategic research priority areas of health and materials manufacturing and devices.

• Jaka Sunarso of the Department of Chemistry will work on new rechargeable batteries that can perform at higher-than-normal temperatures. He received his fellowship from NSERC, and his research falls under Waterloo's priority areas of energy and the environment, and materials manufacturing and devices.

• Maïté Dupuis of the Department of Applied Mathematics will work on loop quantum gravity, which falls within the theory of general relativity. The research she will conduct under her NSERC Banting fellowship will allow Dupuis to focus on the Quantum-Nano nexus, which is one of the university’s top current research priorities.

• Robert Zacharias of the Department of English Language & Literature is a leading international expert in the field of Mennonite literary studies. His work will situate Mennonite literature within the theoretic framework of hemispheric studies, which reads Canadian cultural production across national borders in relation to the Americas. His fellowship is from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC); his topic fits into the theme of Society and Culture, one of the areas of focus in Waterloo's strategic research plan.

Banting fellowship awards are worth $70,000 a year, for two years. Their intent is to attract and retain top talent, and prepare recipients as leading researchers to solve the challenges of the future. This year's recipients come to University of Waterloo from Canada, France and Indonesia.

The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships recognize top academic achievement and leadership skills. They support recipients as they complete doctoral degrees while conducting significant research. Scholars receive $50,000 each year, for three years. This year's recipients come from the arts, engineering and mathematics faculties.

“Graduate students are instrumental in contributing to the high quality research taking place at Waterloo," said Horton. "I am pleased to see Vanier recognize the outstanding achievements and promise of these award winners."

• Timothy Leshuk is a doctoral candidate. His proposed research project involves the application of nanotechnology for water purification, and builds on the university's established excellence in these areas. He received his Vanier scholarship from NSERC.

• Abbas Mehrabian is a doctoral candidate. He also received an NSERC Vanier. His research is in the area of graph theory, a branch of mathematics with fundamental links to computer science and operations research.

• Shauna Bottos is a doctoral candidate whose research interest lies in the areas of complex trauma and mentalizing with the particular interest in the psychological squelae resulting from chronic childhood abuse and neglect. She is the recipient of the SSHRC Vanier.

The Honourable Greg Rickford, Minister of State (Science and Technology), announced the 165 winners of the Vanier scholarships and 70 recipients of the Banting fellowships at an event in Quebec City.

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