Top grad students recognized

Graduate student award winners, from left, Irene Podolak, Drew Marquardt and Sierra Holtzheuser.

Graduate student award winners, from left, Irene Podolak, Drew Marquardt and Sierra Holtzheuser.

Brock’s graduate students are, in the words of University President Jack Lightstone, part of the driving force of the renewal of knowledge.

Speaking at the annual Graduate Student Awards and Donor Recognition reception held recently at Pond Inlet, Lightstone said graduate education is giving Canada a competitive edge in a world that is “absolutely dependent on rejuvenation of knowledge and discovery.”

“As graduate students you are, even now, our partners in remaking knowledge,” Lightstone said to about 120 graduate students, faculty and Brock donors. “Knowledge drives progress on all fronts. Graduate students are precious to us, our culture, our society and to our economy.”

This year the Faculty of Graduate Studies celebrates the success of hundreds of graduate students who are recipients of internal and external awards and scholarships.

“Awards and scholarships make it possible for our graduate students to devote their attention and time to research that matters in many ways to people of all ages living in our closest neighbourhoods, in communities around Canada, and in the far reaches of the world,” said Mike Plyley, Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Irene Podolak, a PhD student in Applied Health Sciences, spoke about the importance of graduate funding to her research into health decision-making.

Podolak, pursuing her doctoral degree after a career as a corporate health consultant, is Brock’s first doctoral recipient of a prestigious Frederick Banting and Charles Best Graduate Scholarship from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. She also is the winner of the Leading the Way Graduate Student Scholarship.

She said there are factors representing rapid change today, and more we aren’t yet aware of, that will influence the sustainability of our health systems in the future.

“Through CIHR funding and the support of internal donors,” said Podolak, “I will be able to pursue a much more comprehensive study to investigate how a method called scenario-based planning can enhance strategic health decision-making to prepare for inevitable change.”

Also sharing their research stories at the event were award winners Drew Marquardt, a doctoral student in Physics, and Sierra Holtzheuser, a master’s student in Child and Youth Studies.

Marquardt is investigating the biology of Vitamin E while Holtzheuser is partnering with the Learning Disabilities Association of Niagara to develop a literacy program for four- and five-year-old children who struggle with reading.

Roelof Makken, a Brock alumnus and member of its Board of Trustees, spoke about his reasons for establishing a graduate award in recognition of Economics Professor Mohammed Dore.

“It is important to give back and allow the next generation of students to thrive,” he said.

“I was a foreign student and I had no intention to pursue a graduate degree. Professor Dore coerced me to go to graduate school. It was the nicest thing that could have happened to me. That is where affinity comes from.”

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