Executive Committee 2015-2016

Executive Committee 2015-2016



Aidan Smyth


MSc Student, Department of Applied Health Sciences


          Hi everyone, my name is Aidan Smyth and I am your GSA President for the 2015/2016 school year. I recently graduated from Concurrent Education at Brock and am currently pursuing a Master’s of Science in Applied Health Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Kimberley Gammage in the field of exercise psychology. To compliment my research, I also work as a personal trainer at Brock University’s Zone Fitness Centre and a supervisor at the Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being.

My involvement in the school community began with the Brock University Smart Start program – an orientation program for incoming first year students. This is where I first realized my passion for working with university students and promoting academic, professional, and social development. My work with Smart Start acted as a catalyst for my involvement in many other areas of the university. It also taught me how to address students’ concerns and how to provide support by connecting students with the appropriate services. As GSA President, I hope to enhance the graduate experience at Brock by increasing the visibility of the grad students, developing graduate student culture, advocating on behalf of grad students, and increasing opportunities for student involvement. If you are looking to get more involved, or have any questions about life at Brock, send me an email and I’ll do my best to help you out.


Amanda Longo

Vice President Student Affairs

PhD Candidate, Department of Applied Health Sciences


           Hi, I'm Amanda and I'm your current VP Student Affairs.  I like to think that I was made for this position because it requires the perfect balance between a) an academic mind and b) a sociable, creative and fun-loving personality.  I'd hope that being in my final year of my PhD in Applied Health Sciences with a focus on nutrition and osteoporosis qualifies me as having a mind for the sciences, but I guess we will leave that up to my advisory committee members to decide.  But, it is my activities outside of the lab that help me in this position with the GSA executive team the most.  I don't think a semester has gone by that I haven't been a part of one or more intramural teams; whether that means drowning myself in inner tube water polo or tripping over my own flags in football.  My all-time favourite thing to do is to go to concerts and listen to live music, and if I happen to have a craft beer in my hand then I'm a happy girl.  All of my ideas for grad events come from my own experiences with friends and family, so if you like what you see on my Instagram, you'll love our GSA socials.


Lee Belding

Vice President Finance

PhD Candidate, Department of Chemistry


         Hi, I’m Lee and I’m your VP Finance. I’m entering the fourth and final year of my PhD in Chemistry. In my research I get to play with the tiny building blocks that make up the world around us! I dream up cool new molecules that have never been made before and use computer programs to look at their properties. Then, if anything interesting turns up I go make it in the lab and see what it can do! There are target applications for the compounds I make, but to be honest I’m more interested in exploring the intricate nature of molecular interactions through both theory and experiment. In my spare time I enjoy building decks, playing the guitar, hockey, soccer, snowboarding, science fiction, ingesting fermentation metabolites, and talking with Barb. I’m also a volunteer for The Fresh Air Fund. I like talking about pretty much any topic. I simply find life, and all of its aspects, very fascinating. So please introduce yourself at any one of the awesome events the GSA will be hosting this year! You can tell me the best way to end a short bio… because clearly I have no idea.


Kirsten Bott

Vice President Communications

MSc Student, Department of Applied Health Sciences


         Hi, I’m Kirsten and am currently the VP of Communications. I’m in my second year of my MSc. in the Applied Health Sciences with a focus on how a high fat diet and aging affect muscle and bone, function and structure. I am a graduate of the BSc. Kinesiology program at Brock and plan on continuing to complete my PhD at Brock as well. It is the amazing professors that I have encountered that have inspired to continue in research and the world-class research facilities that have made me want to stay. When I’m not in lab you will see me either playing intramurals or socializing at GSA events. I also enjoy running, cycling, hiking, skiing, and pretty much anything else to get my outside. I like meeting new people so please stop me in the hall or come say hi at an event. My favourite icebreaker question is “What are your favourite pizza toppings”, ask me that and I’ll know you’ve read this.


Jacqueline Beres

Vice President Equity and External Affairs

PhD Student - Department of Education


         Hi, I’m Jackie and I am currently a PhD student in Education. I am working with Dr. Michelle McGinn and my focus is on higher education.  I have a particular interest in student-supervisor relationships, teaching and learning in higher education, and research methodology. Prior to studying at Brock, I spent time at a number of universities in Southern Ontario studying Kinesiology, Sport Management, and Organizational Behaviour/Human Resources. These many years of post-secondary education, along with my love of learning, inspired my focus on higher education. When I am not doing grad school “stuff” (or reading about how to survive grad school!) I hope that you will find me outside—hiking, biking, anything active—doing hot yoga, or visiting with family and friends. If not, I’m likely to be dreaming of my next travel destination….and figuring out how to pay for it!


Erin Higgs

Vice President International

MA Student, Department of Psychology



         Hello there! My name is Erin and I serve as the VP International for the GSA. I’m starting the second year of my MA in Psychology with Dr. Kathryn Belicki serving as my thesis supervisor. My research interests centre upon sleep and current research focuses on the impact of childhood sexual abuse on later adult sleep. Before attending Brock, I worked in sleep medicine as a Registered Polysomnographic Technologist in the St. Louis, Missouri area. As an international student, I can relate to challenges you may face as an international student. Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have- if I can’t answer your question, I will connect you to someone who can!  In addition to serving as the VP International, I sit on Brock's Academic Integrity committee as well as the Student Experience Task Force. I am a student fellow of the Canadian Sleep Society and sit on the Student Organizing Committee for the 7th Canadian Sleep Society Conference. 


Julia Polyck-O'Neill

Senate Representative

PhD Candidate, Department of Humanities


         I’m a third-year student (soon to be candidate! hopefully.) in Brock’s Interdisciplinary Humanities PhD program, specializing in the fields of Culture and Aesthetics as well as Social Critique and Transformation (we select a primary and secondary field from four options in our program). My doctoral supervisor is Gregory Betts from English Language and Literature (he’s also the Director of Canadian Studies). My research examines the intersections between Vancouver’s contemporary movements in conceptual visual art and writing, and I build from my experience studying Visual Art, Art History, and English Literature… and more recently, Philosophy.

            I recently finished a two year curatorial project exploring video games and New Media art and am a co-curator for the Border Blur Reading Series, featuring readings by top vanguard, experimental poets from across Canada (our events are usually at the Niagara Artists Centre—please come check us out!). I’m also a poet and (lapsed?) visual artist—although I devote more time to criticism than production these days!

            Now entering my second term as a GSA Senate Representative, I’ve been involved with the GSA since I began graduate studies at Brock—I completed the MA program in Studies in Comparative Literatures and Arts in 2013. This year, I’ll be sitting on the Governance Committee as well as committees for the Dean of Humanities and for Responsible Conduct in Research, so please don’t hesitate to contact me about issues pertaining to these areas. I also co-organize scholarship application workshops in my program, and have sat on several committees specializing in university research, including that which occurs at the graduate level. If you have questions about external awards, I’d be happy to assist you in finding resources.

            One last bit of trivia about me: I was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon, so if you’re feeling far from home or alienated, I’m also available to chat about that.


Bryan Giordano

Senate Representative

PhD Student, Department of Biotechnology


          Hello everyone, I'm Bryan Giordano one of two Senate Representatives for the GSA. I am currently in my third year of my PhD in Biotechnology. For my research I study the epidemiology of West Nile virus in Ontario as well as live manipulation of this deadly virus in culture in a containment level 3 facility here at Brock! Outside the laboratory I am very involved as a Teaching Assistant, Laboratory Demonstrator, and CUPE 4207 union Steward and Health and Safety Officer. In addition to work I also volunteer as a national gymnastics official for Gymnastics Canada and Gymnastics Ontario. I am also a strong supporter of Brock Pride and Pride Niagara. I am very approachable and friendly so if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask away! I enjoy meeting new people and making new friends and I look forward to serving the Brock graduate student community this year on the GSA! Thanks, now get out there, try new things, come to our amazing events, and make the most of your time here as a Brock graduate student!


Peter Stoyanov

Board of Trustees Representative

MSc Student, Department of Chemistry


          Since moving from Russia in 2002, Peter has been a resident of the Niagara region. It is therefore not a surprise that he completed his B.Sc. in Biochemistry at Brock University. It was not only a convenient location close to home, but also a familiar institution for Peter. He had wrestled there as part of the Brock club years before he began his post-secondary education. Peter is currently in his second year of M.Sc. in Organic Chemistry, and is focused on the synthesis, investigation, and application of novel super-basic compounds. Particular interest is reserved for catalytic and fluorescent molecules. The amazing guidance of professors in the chemistry department as well as the never-ending fascination with discovery inspired Peter to stay at Brock. In his spare time Peter enjoys hiking through the gorgeous Niagara landscape, snowboarding, and playing soccer. In contrast to Peter’s approachability and his love of socializing, he can play a mean Blues solo on the guitar. Peter is your GSA executive, sitting on Brock’s Board of Trustees. He is always ready to hear your thoughts on how we can keep and improve the excellence of our university.