Prime Minister Stephen Harper visits campus to announce 2011 Vanier scholars: six McMaster graduate students among winners

August 3, 2011

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper was on campus Wednesday to announce the winners of the prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships, six of whom are McMaster scholars. Here he speaks with Carolina Alba, a cardiologist in McMaster's Health Research Methodology PhD program. Photo by JD Howell.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced the winners of the prestigious Vanier
Canada Graduate Scholarships for 2011, a group that includes six McMaster scholars.

"I am pleased to congratulate the 167 recipients of this year's Vanier Canada Graduate
Scholarships - researchers whose ideas will help produce tomorrow's breakthroughs
and keep Canada's economy growing," said Prime Minister Harper, who visited
Convocation Hall at McMaster University to make the announcement.

The federal government established the awards in 2009 to attract and retain world-
class doctoral students from across Canada and abroad.

The McMaster students come from the departments of Clinical Epidemiology &
Biostatistics, Psychiatry, Neuroscience & Behavior, English & Cultural Studies, Chemistry,
Biomedical Engineering, and the School of Geography & Earth Sciences. They will each
receive $50,000 a year for up to three years.

"We're so proud of our students' accomplishments," said Patrick Deane, president of
McMaster University. "They already have made a difference in the lives of others, and
the Vanier awards will help them do so much more. For McMaster, this collective honor
is a powerful recognition of the excellence of our graduate programs and the students
they attract."

The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships program is administered jointly by Canada's
three research granting agencies: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and
Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

"These six Vanier scholars epitomize the future of Canada -- balancing outstanding
academic and research achievements with genuine commitment to leadership and
community engagement," said Allison Sekuler, associate vice-president and dean of
graduate studies at McMaster University.

McMaster's 2011 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship winners are:

CIHR recipients:

Dr. Carolina Alba, Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Faculty of Health Sciences

Jonathan Lai, Psychiatry & Behavioural Neuroscience, Faculty of Health Sciences

NSERC recipients:

Paul Johnson, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Faculty of Science

Frances Lasowski, Department of Chemical & Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of

SSHRC recipients:

Vinh Nguyen, Department of English & Cultural Studies, Faculty of Humanities

Sarah Dickin, School of Geography & Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science

One of the winners, Dr. Carolina Alba, is a mother of two children, who completed her
medical training in her native Argentina. She is now a cardiologist in McMaster's Health
Research Methodology PhD program and is also a fellow in Cardiology at the Toronto
General Hospital.

Dr. Alba is examining biochemical predictors of heart failure, using both clinical and
laboratory research. Investigation in this area may improve the understanding of heart
disease, leading to improved treatments and outcomes for patients.

"The Vanier scholarship will allow us to concentrate on our research, present our work
at national and international conferences, and help us complete our training as
outstanding researchers," said Alba. "This generous support, provided by the
Government of Canada through the three granting agencies, in addition to the great
academic support from our universities and work places, will benefit not only our
academic development but also national and international communities at different
levels, including students, patients and other researchers."