Graduate students awarded NSERC funding

Nine Brock University graduate students received funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) for a total of $423,500.

Funded projects include topics such as the relationship between attention and memory in the aging process and the mechanistic effects of rosemary extract in palmitate-induced insulin resistant muscle cells.

Riley Cleverdon, a master of science candidate in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, is a recipient for her research project on the pathophysiology of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a genetic muscle disease usually affecting boys, which causes muscle weakness and early death due to heart and breathing complications.

Currently, there are multiple pre-clinical models available to study DMD, but they do not always mimic the severity of muscle damage that patients actually experience, making it difficult to translate the research models to a clinical situation. Cleverdon’s research will compare two preclinical models of DMD and assess why one model mimics patient symptoms more closely than the other.

Cleverdon hopes her research will help to further the field of DMD research and is grateful to receive NSERC funding to help make it possible.

“Determining the disease characteristics will help lay the groundwork for future muscular dystrophy researchers, and will help us identify potential therapeutic targets,” she says. “Receiving funding from NSERC means that I have the opportunity to fully dedicate my time and focus to my research. I hope to continue studying muscle physiology and pursue a doctoral degree.”

Val Fajardo, Cleverdon’s supervisor, says that she is well deserving of the NSERC scholarship.

“With her curiosity and comprehensive ability, Riley is always thinking of new ideas,” says Fajardo, adding that she is “truly engaged and passionate about her research.”

“Combined with her ability to quickly pick things up in the lab, she has the potential in becoming a very successful researcher and leader in our field. Her master’s work will provide a greater understanding of the cellular mechanisms underpinning DMD and could direct and inform future research aimed at managing and alleviating this disease.”

Cleverdon was introduced to research in bone physiology and nutrition by Wendy Ward, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Professor and Canada Research Chair in Kinesiology, during her undergraduate studies at Brock. She credits Ward with piquing her interest in research, who says she is pleased to have had the opportunity to introduce Cleverdon to the world of research.

“For Riley and many students, their undergraduate research experiences at Brock sparked their interest in pursuing graduate studies,” says Ward.

“These early research experiences form the foundation for creating future leaders in discovery research and innovation that has boundless opportunities to have a positive impact on Canadian society. NSERC funds a wide area of research, and along with discovery research, promotes partnerships with industry that can lead to exciting career opportunities for graduate students in leading sectors. We thank NSERC for these investments in Brock graduate students.”

Graduate Student NSERC award recipients

Canada Graduate Scholarships – master’s

Riley Cleverdon, Department of Health Sciences in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “Calcium Handling in the BL10-mdx and D2-mdx Murine Models of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy”

Cody Dennis, Department of Computer Science in the Faculty of Mathematics and Science, “Optimizing the Optimizers”

Sophie Hamstra, Department of Kinesiology in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “Investigating the effect of GSK3 inhibition on protecting SERCA from oxidative damage in murine hearts”

Daniel Marko, Department of Health Sciences in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “Examining the Mechanisms of Interleukin-6 Signalling in SHSY5Y Neuronal Cells”

Marvel Megaly, Department of Biological Sciences in the Faculty of Mathematics and Science, “Investigating the role of Notch signalling in the development of the ventral mesoderm in Drosophila melanogaster”

Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships – Doctoral

Emily Davis, Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Social Sciences, “The neural mechanisms underlying hyper-binding in aging”

Filip Vlavcheski, Department of Health Sciences in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “Regulation of glucose homeostasis: Investigation of novel polyphenols”

Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral

Natalie Hicks, Department of Health Sciences in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “Intersection of epigenetic mechanisms and map kinase signaling during mast cell differentiation”

Anne Worrell, Department of Chemistry in the Faculty of Mathematics and Science, “Chiral Bridging/Chelating Alkoxide Ligands in 3d and 3d/4f Metal Cluster Chemistry: Novel Multifunctional Single Molecule Magnets”

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