Four prestigious Banting Fellowships for McMaster researchers

Banting winners

McMaster's Banting Postdoctoral Fellows (from left) Kyle Siler, Rahul Kushwah, Helen Kirk and Mark Ferro look on as MP David Sweet speaks in the West Room of the University's Alumni Memorial Hall. Minister Gary Goodyear was on campus to announce the $70,000 fellowships, which were awarded to 70 postdoctoral fellows across the country.

Four leading graduate scholars are starting new stages in their careers at McMaster University after being named Banting Postdoctoral Fellows for 2012.

Federal Minister of State for Science and Technology Gary Goodyear announced the 70 Banting recipients for all of Canada during a visit to McMaster today.

“The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships are Canada’s most prestigious awards for postdoctoral researchers,” Goodyear said. “These internationally competitive awards allow our country to retain and attract some of the best and brightest researchers in the world, thereby building Canada’s economic and competitive edge.”

Banting fellowships provide recipients with $70,000 per year. McMaster’s four fellows are among 24 Banting recipients at universities across Ontario.

“I am very proud of this outstanding showing,” said McMaster president Patrick Deane. “This is a gratifying confirmation of McMaster’s capacity to attract a broad range of top national and international scholars.”

Fellowship recipient Mark Ferro says the Banting program demonstrates the federal government’s commitment to fostering young researchers.

“The Banting Fellowship allows me to devote myself entirely to conducting cutting-edge research in child psychiatric epidemiology at McMaster University – Canada’s preeminent institution for health research,” Ferro said.

McMaster’s dean of graduate studies Allison Sekuler said the Banting prizes create the conditions for postdoctoral fellows to do their best research while they share their knowledge and skills with graduate and undergraduate students.

The fellowships are funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Here’s a look at McMaster’s 2012 Banting Fellows:

Mark Ferro (Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences) An epidemiologist, Ferro is a postdoctoral fellow at the Offord Centre for Child Studies, working under McMaster’s Michael Boyle. Ferro, the recipient of numerous awards, earned his undergraduate degree at McMaster and his PhD from Western University. His Banting research focuses on reducing psychiatric problems in children diagnosed with chronic medical conditions.

Rahul Kushwah (Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences) The holder of a PhD from the University of Toronto, Kushwah is a prolific researcher and international lecturer in the field of immunology and regenerative medicine. He is to do his Banting research under Mick Bhatia at McMaster’s Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute.

Helen Kirk (Origins Institute) After earning her PhD in physics at the University of Victoria, Kirk went to work as a post-doctoral researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She is considered a world leader in the observational study of star formation in molecular clouds, and her research is expected to bring new capabilities to McMaster’s Origins Institute and its study of how star clusters form.

Kyle Siler (Sociology). After earning his Master’s degree in sociology at McMaster, Siler returns to campus following his PhD studies at Cornell University, where he drew international attention with a paper on gambling and risk-taking. His Banting research is to focus on risk-taking in the academic setting, particularly with respect to the impact of the peer review process on research directions and priorities.