Drew Marquardt, PhD candidate, Physics

Faculty of Graduate Studies

Drew Marquardt, PhD candidate, Physics

Drew Marquardt is investigating the biology of Vitamin E and is the recipient of funding suppport from NSERC and the Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology.

Drew’s research story

Vitamin E was discovered in 1922 as essential for healthy reproduction. The biochemistry of Vitamin E has been thoroughly studied over the last 90 years, however there is no consensus in the scientific community of what Vitamin E’s true role is.

To put it simply, Vitamin E is the only essential vitamin for which it is not known why it is essential. I don’t want to be gloom and doom, but Vitamin E is being supplemented and the reason we require it is unknown, and that is a little concerning.

This debate in the literature continues, I think, as a result of conflicting and confusing data. I hope my research helps to bring some clarity to the discussion. The question that underlines my project is: Does Vitamin E’s location in a cell membrane reflect its possible role in a human cell.

Neutron Scattering is the primary technique I use to examine the location of Vitamin E. I must thank the folks at the Canadian Neutron Beams centre in Chalk River for providing me with access to their facilities. I’m fortunate to work alongside world class scientists as I develop my laboratory skills and acquire expertise in operating some of the most sophisticated equipment available in the world. They are helping me pursue an area of research that will be of great interest to the broader health community and biochemistry community.

Graduate awards and the Brock experience

A real benefit of receiving awards is to reduce the financial burden and allow graduate students to focus more on our research. Believe me that is a real bonus!

But there is an aspect of winning a scholarship that I think is sometimes overlooked. Winning a scholarship is a group effort. Think about the amount of writing involved in a scholarship proposal. I for example had a three-page proposal and then additional pages for research contributions and extra curriculars. Now think about the writing others did for my scholarship application, such as supporting letters from my supervisor and other collaborators or colleague. These individuals arguably put just as much time/effort into the application as I did, and for that I am very thankful.

On behalf of all graduate award winners here today I would like to recognize what these awards represent — they represent many people who are helping us along the way — supervisors, and collaborators and other colleagues and award donors.

I would like to thank my supervisor Thad Harroun, and references, not only for their kind words but the time and effort they put into developing me into a successful scientist.


award-winning graduate students

Graduate students, above from left, Irene Podolak, Drew Marquardt and Sierra Holtzheuser, spoke about their research and the importance of awards and scholarships in supporting their success at the 2012 Graduate Student Awards and Donor Recognition Celebration.