Grad student researchers receive $196,000 in federal funding

Genetic muscle diseases, attention and memory in the aging process, and the Zika and West Nile viruses are among the topics Brock student researchers will explore thanks to a boost in federal funding.

Six Brock University graduate students received a total of $196,000 in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Among the recipients is Robert Crozier (BSc ’19), a PhD student in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences who is examining the effects of naturally occurring chemicals from the rosemary plant on allergic inflammation.

The NSERC funding will allow Crozier and his team to develop their early-stage discovery research, helping draw attention and pave the path for plant-derived compounds as anti-allergy therapeutics.

“Allergies are a significant economic and health-care burden, as they can be long-term chronic disorders with a potential to be fatal in the context of anaphylactic reactions,” he says. “Our discovery-based research will help open the door and draw attention to these plant-derived compounds as potential anti-allergy therapeutics in the future.”

Crozier’s supervisor, Adam MacNeil, has worked with him since his undergraduate degree at Brock and speaks highly of his research and character.

“Rob is amongst the most exceptional research talents I have had the pleasure of mentoring,” said MacNeil, an Associate Professor of Health Sciences. “He is quick to offer his help and is a sought-after collaborator within and beyond my team — a true pillar of excellence, dedication, teamwork and rigour amongst Brock’s outstanding graduate student body.”

Crozier was introduced to immunology during his third-year class with MacNeil. He was impressed by the professor’s passion and positive influence on students, and his efforts to ensure they enjoyed and understood course content.

Crozier wants to take his positive experience at Brock and cultivate it wherever his career takes him.

“I hope to look for post-doctoral positions after my PhD to continue supporting a positive environment in a research program I run someday,” he says. “Experiencing the positive influence a supervisor can have on an individual is a driving force for me to stay in academia.”

Crozier is just over a year into his graduate journey after fast-tracking his master’s through his outstanding research contributions. This is Crozier’s first graduate NSERC award, adding to two he won during his undergraduate studies at Brock.

Brock University’s graduate student NSERC award recipients include:

  • Riley Cleverdon, Department of Health Sciences in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “The effect of GSK3 signalling on RyR leak in models of aberrant calcium handling.”
  • Jeremia Coish, Department of Health Sciences in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “Zika virus and West Nile virus replication in mast cells as a source of viral dissemination.”
  • Robert Crozier, Department of Health Sciences in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “Mechanistic dissection of the modulatory properties of Rosmarinus officinalis in mast cells.”
  • Gregory Foran, Department of Biological Sciences in the Faculty of Mathematics and Science, “Elucidating the Temporal Dynamics of Notch Signalling in Real-Time.”
  • Sarah Henderson, Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Social Sciences, “Neural Underpinnings of Age-Related Differences in Event Segmentation: Event Tagging as a Tool to Improve Associative Memory in Older Adults.”
  • Alexander Yang, Department of Health Sciences in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, “Examination of chronic AMPK modulation on regulating neuronal growth and synaptic plasticity.”

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