Brock graduate students earn prestigious Vanier scholarships

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Brock graduate students earn prestigious Vanier scholarships

Published on June 02 2010

Two Brock PhD psychology students who study adolescence and the influence of social categories on face perception have each received a 2010 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, one of Canada’s most prestigious scholarships for doctoral students.

Chloe Hamza and Lindsey Short are among the 174 leading doctoral students chosen from across Canada. Vanier scholars, who receive $50,000 annually for up to three years, are chosen as a result of their demonstrated leadership skills and high standard of scholarly achievement in graduate studies in the social sciences and humanities, natural sciences and engineering, and health research.

“The Vaniers are the highest and most competitive awards offered at the national level in Canada,” noted Marilyn Rose, dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. “The fact that Brock has been awarded two of them this year is a tribute to the calibre of these particular students and their supervisors, as well as an indicator of the growing strength of Brock’s graduate research sector and its potential to contribute to the world in very meaningful ways.”

Hamza, who is from London, Ont., works under the supervision of Teena Willoughby, a professor in the adolescent development lab. Hamza’s doctoral research focuses on the ways parent and adolescent interaction ultimately shape youth behaviour throughout the course of adolescence.

“It is my hope that my research will inform interventions aimed at reducing adolescents’ susceptibility to aversive outcomes, and equip parents with accurate information about the most protective parenting practices to promote positive youth development during the critical period of adolescence,” Hamza said.

The funding will provide Hamza with funding to attend additional conferences around the world, so she may share her research and develop relationships with other professionals in related fields, with an aim towards future collaborative projects with community partners.

Lindsey Short, an international student from Ohio, works under the supervision of Catherine Mondloch, a professor who studies various aspects of face perception. Short is investigating the way in which social context influences an individual’s perception of faces of people of similar and different race.

“My research demonstrates a critical junction between perceptual and social psychology and has numerous implications for the way in which we, as a society, treat and respond to other-race individuals,” Short noted. “Given that race is almost effortlessly encoded upon first encounter, it is crucial to understand the processes underlying our perception of other-race faces and ways we can potentially reduce such biases through social influences.”

Short said the Vanier award allows her to present the results of her work at numerous professional conferences and to forge new relationships with labs both in Canada and around the world.

When announcing the 2010 recipients, Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, emphasized the significance of these awards in the Government of Canada’s science and technology strategy.

“By helping our universities attract and retain the world’s top doctoral students, the program is helping us develop and apply leading-edge knowledge, grow a world-class workforce, and position Canada as a true destination of choice for the world’s top students and researchers,” said Minister Clement.

Vanier scholars are first nominated by a Canadian university and the nominations are evaluated by selection committees struck by Canada’s three research granting agencies. An international, blue ribbon selection board then selects Vanier scholarship recipients and recommends who will be funded.