Kiel Ormerod has a challenging year ahead of him.
Ormerod is the president of Brock’s Graduate Students’ Association (GSA). His executive leadership comes as the GSA continues to strengthen its voice on behalf of more than 1,500 masters and doctoral students enrolled in the University’s 41 graduate programs.
He’s prepared for the time commitment that the job will require and, at the same time, Ormerod is determined to sustain his passion for neuroscience and dedication to his PhD research in biological sciences.
That’s what one might expect from a former triathlete and Ironman competitor, and a championship oarsman – someone who knows how to set a pace and go the distance.
Ormerod is in the third year of his doctoral program in biological sciences and is supervised by Prof. Joffre Mercier. He was awarded an NSERC doctoral postgraduate scholarship recently, which provided funding for his research focusing on the interplay between nerves and muscles, and how various molecules and chemicals found in our body strengthen or weaken that connection.
“I got the research bug in the fourth year of undergraduate studies while working with Dr. Mercier,” Ormerod says. “He’s the reason that I stayed on to pursue my research and carry on with my doctoral work.”
Ormerod originally became involved with the GSA as a program representative. He says the organization has made significant strides in representing the needs and interests of Brock’s graduate students over the past few years. He gives much of the credit for this progress to the leadership of recent past-presidents Daniel Antwi-Amoabeng and Ellen Robb and their respective executives.
“I took the job because of my predecessors. I was impressed with what Daniel and Ellen accomplished and I want to build on their success,” Ormerod says. “I have an exceptional group of people serving on this year’s GSA executive as each offers a unique skill set and all have a dynamic outlook.”
The GSA supports graduate students in very practical ways, such as administering health and dental care plans, bus passes, fitness memberships, and financial support in the form of bursaries and conference funding.
The GSA’s broader mandate – and the more challenging role – is to promote the development of a graduate culture and community at Brock. It’s starting to happen, says Ormerod, but there is still a ways to go.
“What we really want is to bring students together from all disciplines to build community and to build and strengthen graduate research,” says Ormerod.
“I didn’t find out until a year and a half into my program that someone in another faculty was involved in similar research to mine. Graduate students need to meet each other and to talk to each other about what they are doing on a regular basis. There’s no telling what that kind of contact will mean to intensifying research activity here at Brock.
“In order for that kind of connection to take place, graduate students need to have a physical space on campus that they can call their own.
“I know we have a strong case to make and we are having conversations with University administrators about finding space,” he adds. “I’m very hopeful that the GSA will put the building blocks in place for this to happen.”