Articles by author: Milica Petkovic

  • FMS recipients of Jack M. Miller Excellence in Research Award

    During the Faculty of Graduate Studies’ Mapping the New Knowledges Conference awards ceremony, two graduate students from the Faculty of Mathematics and Science were honoured with the 2018 Jack M. Miller Excellence in Research Award. This award is given to research-based graduate students who are working on innovative projects.

    This year’s Faculty of Mathematics and Science recipients are:

    Alyssa Davis
    MSc Earth Science
    Studying “Paleoatmospheric and paleoenvironmental interpretations of the Early Paleozoic”

    Guan Wang
    PhD Chemistry
    Studying, “Analytical devides and assays for point-of-care disease diagnosis”

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  • April 20: Chemistry Seminar Series – David Liscombe

    Department of Chemistry – Seminar Series

    David Liscombe
    Vineland Research and Innovation Centre

    DATE: Friday, April 20

    TIME: noon

    LOCATION: H313

    Chemistry Seminar Series – April 20

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  • FMS students receive President’s Surgite Awards

    They’re student leaders who have made significant contributions to Brock University or the wider community, and on Monday they were honoured with the President’s Surgite Awards.

    Ten Brock students from across the University’s seven Faculties were given the awards in recognition for the work they’ve done during their time studying here.

    “Students at Brock are supported and encouraged to develop their leadership, academic, student life and community engagement skills and contributions,” said President Gervan Fearon. “The students receiving these awards have excelled at these activities and exemplify the values of being outstanding students at the University and across the broader community.”


    Tom Dunk, Interim Provost and Vice-President, Academic, said the awards are meant to be an extra achievement students can use as they head out into the workforce.

    “We recognize in that doing what you’ve done, it’s good for your resumés, but you’ve also improved the lives of our students and life at Brock, and in some cases, within the broader community. We recognize your contribution to making everyone proud of Brock locally, nationally and beyond.”

    2017-18 President’s Surgite Award winners:

    • Allison Flynn-Bowman, Community Health
    • Aniqah Zowmi, Social Justice and Equity Studies
    • Evans Boadi, Mathematics and Statistics
    • Sarah Mohammed, Child Health
    • Nicholas Lepore, Accounting
    • Michael Tolentino, Biomedical Sciences
    • Aynsley Maves, Concurrent Education
    • Christine Saleeb, Medical Sciences
    • Vanessa Cservid, Medical Sciences
    • Matthew McGarr, Medical Sciences

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  • Assistant Professor of Chemistry captures Ontario’s Early Researcher Awards

    Creating a device to detect prostate cancer. Determining how and why perfectionism impacts adolescent health. Understanding the process that leads to children forgetting to carry out a future intention.

    These areas of interest will be pursued by three Brock University researchers thanks to a grant from the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science.

    Assistant Professor of Chemistry Feng Li is one of the three who received funding this year under the Ministry’s Early Researcher Awards program.

    “These rare and prestigious awards are reserved for early-career researchers whose innovative work is recognized as crucial to the social, cultural, economic and intellectual future of Ontario,” says Brock Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon.

    “For a university of Brock’s size to receive three awards in one year is amazing and will definitely turn some heads. But it is not surprising to anyone who knows the incredible research talent that Brock has been recruiting for years.”

    Li and his team of four graduate students will develop a single device that will examine blood and urine samples for the presence of certain proteins and nucleic acids that are present in the early stages of prostate cancer.

    The device will give results in about an hour. Li previously created a three-dimensional, nano-sized robot that detects disease, which the new device, made out of paper, will read and interpret.

    At the moment, testing for these proteins and nucleic acids is done separately and requires highly complicated, time consuming and expensive equipment and processes.

    “You would use this device like you would do a pregnancy test,” he says. “You mix your samples with the 3D robot and load it onto the paper device. You would see coloured strips, just like in a pregnancy test,” says Li.




    The Early Researcher Awards program enables new researchers working at publicly funded Ontario research institutions to build research teams.


    Read about the other researchers’ work here

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  • Brock research examines messaging to encourage less red meat consumption

    With the beef industry acting as a major contributor to greenhouse gasses, Brock University researchers are examining what can be done to cut down on the consumption of red meat by Canadians.

    Brock food scientist Gary Pickering and graduate student Samantha Stea are examining what type of messaging works to encourage people to either lessen their red meat consumption or stop eating it all together.

    The duo asked 593 red-meat eaters from across Canada why they eat beef, pork, lamb and other red meat, as well as how much they know about the environmental impacts of red meat farming.

    “Taste and quality are the most important motivators when it comes to consuming red meat,” says Stea, who recently completed a Master of Sustainability degree.

    Interestingly, the fourth-highest motivation for eating red meat was for health reasons, going against “traditional wisdom” that consuming too much red meat is actually bad for human health, says Pickering, a Professor of Biological Sciences and Psychology, as well as in Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre.

    “Concerns around the ethics and morality of eating red meat were very low,” he says.

    Participants read a list of 13 environmental impacts — including global warming, deforestation, overuse of land, acid rain, soil contamination and others — and ticked off those they thought were associated with red meat consumption.

    Pickering and Stea then presented the red meat eaters with one of six message types that contained information about the environmental impacts of red meat production.


    The researchers then asked participants several questions about their intended future red meat consumption.

    Participants also re-read the list of 13 environmental impacts and once again ticked off those they thought were associated with red meat consumption. In all 13 categories, the red meat eaters’ knowledge and awareness of the environmental impacts of red meat farming increased.

    The researchers say several important lessons can be drawn from their study, “Optimizing Messaging to Reduce Red Meat Consumption,” which was published earlier this year in the journal Environmental Communication, and won the Best Paper Award at the International Conference on Food and Agriculture Technologies in Bali, Indonesia last year.

    Stea says the results paint a hopeful picture of what can be done to protect the environment.

    Read the full story here

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  • Brock-led study examines role of protein levels in preterm birth

    A Brock-led international research team is developing an approach to predict if women in the early stages of pregnancy are at risk of experiencing a premature birth.

    The team, headed by Professor of Health Sciences and Biological Sciences Jens Coorssen, discovered that the levels of certain proteins found in the mother’s blood during the first trimester can potentially act as early predictors or biomarkers of premature birth.

    “There aren’t any good markers of preterm birth, even in the second and third trimester,” says Coorssen. “The idea was, can we identify markers in the blood samples of women taken during their first routine checkup between 11 and 13 weeks?”

    Preterm birth, which occurs before 37 weeks, is the leading cause of death in children under the age of five, according to the World Health Organization.

    The research team, consisting of Coorssen, PhD student Arlene D’Silva and University of Sydney researcher Jon Hyett, analyzed blood samples from 20 women who were each around 12 weeks pregnant.

    The researchers examined the total set of proteins contained in a part of the blood called serum.

    “We were looking to see if there are different levels of specific proteins in the blood of women who go on to have a normal term delivery versus women who go on to have a pre-term delivery,” he says. “That way we can identify women at risk early and cut down on emergency interventions, and the complications often associated with premature birth.”

    Those women subsequently experiencing a preterm birth had significantly higher or lower levels of 30 different protein species, 20 of which included specific modifications that can alter their functions or locations.

    They also have lower levels of complement C3, a protein that, when activated, kills invading microbes without damaging surrounding tissues. The protein becomes active when encountering a bacteria, virus or other harmful substance.

    These and other findings are in the team’s paper, “Proteomic analysis of first trimester maternal serum to identify candidate biomarkers potentially predictive of spontaneous preterm birth,” published Feb. 13 in the Journal of Proteomics.

    Coorssen says researchers don’t know what causes these protein levels to change, or which of these proteins might be linked more directly to cellular processes that may cause preterm labour.

    “Understanding the cellular and molecular processes involved in preterm labour, which is also part of the ongoing project, is the only route to developing new, targeted medicines,” he says.

    “What we’re immediately interested in right now, though, is if there is a way to identify these women at risk early so that they can be better monitored and managed so as to avoid a preterm event.”

    Coorssen says future research would focus on expanding the number of research participants and focusing more on mechanisms as well.

    The World Health Organization says 15 million babies — one in 10 — are born too early every year, with one million children dying each year due to complications of preterm birth. Many survivors face a lifetime of disability, including breathing issues, learning disabilities and visual and hearing problems. The agency lists a number of measures during pregnancy to avoid preterm births, such as antenatal steroid injections, nutritional counselling, avoiding tobacco and drug use, and “a minimum of eight contacts with health professionals” to identify risk factors.

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  • Record crowd expected for MNK Conference

    The Faculty of Graduate Studies will host the 13th annual Mapping the New Knowledges Graduate Student Research Conference on Thursday, April 12.

    The day-long event will be the largest in the conference’s history, with more 135 graduate students presenting either an oral or poster presentation. For the second year, the conference will also welcome ten undergraduate thesis students in their final year to present oral presentations.

    Kicking off the event will be a keynote address from Brock Professor of Sociology, June Corman. A past winner of the Faculty of Graduate Studies Graduate Mentorship Award, Corman will share stories of her personal mentorship experiences during her time as a graduate student, and how those experiences shape her teaching and supervisory philosophy today.

    “MNK gives graduate students the opportunity to present, some of them for the first time, in a friendly, encouraging environment,” says Diane Dupont, Interim Dean of Graduate Studies. “We want students to get comfortable talking about their research, no matter what stage of their project they may be in. While MNK is largely an opportunity for professional development, it is also a chance for students to see how their individual studies are part of a larger community of research at Brock.”

    The conference will celebrate the graduate studies community with the FGS awards ceremony from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The ceremony will include the presentation of the Marilyn Rose Graduate Leadership Award and Michael Plyley Graduate Mentorship Awards, and special recognition of graduate students who have been selected to receive the 2018 Jack M. Miller Excellence in Research Awards.

    All members of the Brock Community are invited to attend the conference or awards ceremony. For a detailed conference schedule, visit the MNK website.



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  • Linguistics, neuroscience and cognitive psychology come together in Brock lab

    As Brock prepares to welcome prospective students curious about where their studies might take them, the Dwivedi Brain and Language Lab is proof that transdisciplinary research lets you follow your passion — even if you aren’t quite sure what that passion is.

    The lab, run by Psychology Associate Professor Veena Dwivedi is part of the Centre for Lifespan Development Research, one of Brock’s transdisciplinary hubs.

    Dwivedi and her research team combine linguistic theory with cutting edge neuroscience methods to examine how people process language and sentences in the brain. By approaching the subject from multiple disciplines, Dwivedi’s research may ultimately help improve the diagnosis of diseases and disorders, from Alzheimer’s to Attention Deficit Disorder.

    “If you want to do the hard work of understanding how the brain works, you have to bring together fundamental knowledge from more than one discipline,” she says.

    Dwivedi’s devotion to transdisciplinary research often inspires students working in her lab, which presently includes three fourth-year students from different Brock Faculties.

    Alanna Kozak, a Speech and Language Sciences student in the Department of Applied Linguistics, plans to attend medical school after graduation. Medical Science student Harmonie Chan plans to pursue a master’s degree in speech pathology.

    A third student, Neuroscience major Janahan Selvanayagam, speaks highly of the freedom he enjoyed in exploring novel analytical approaches in the lab. He found that his experience confirmed his passion for neuroscience research, which he will continue to pursue in graduate school next year.

    Previous lab students have gone on to diverse experiences around the world — from universities and health care systems to other research ventures as far away as Germany and Poland. One of these alumni, Raechelle Gibson, recently completed a PhD in Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience and is now working on her MD. She credits Brock with affording her opportunities to explore her many interests.

    “The mentorship and teaching I received from Brock fostered my learning and spurred my intellectual curiosity,” says Gibson. “I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunities for learning and research that I did so early on in my training. Brock is a special place and offers a fantastic learning environment.”

    For Dwivedi, this is what her work is all about.

    “I want students to realize that they will be supported at Brock. Even if they are different, they can find a place here. Even if they change their minds as they learn and grow, they will be supported. They can achieve their dreams.”

    Read the full story here

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  • Brock grad recognized as rising star in the Ontario hospitality industry

    Alumna Rachel Kvas (BSc ’14) has joined an elite group of hospitality industry professionals. The Oenology and Viticulture (OEVI) grad was recently recognized as one of the Ontario Hostelry Institute’s (OHI) top 30 hospitality and foodservice professionals under the age of 30.

    Kvas, a research and development co-ordinator at Arterra Wines Canada, credits her time at Brock with her early success after graduation.

    “Without my degree I wouldn’t be where I am now,” she said. “Specifically the exposure to winemaking, sensory studies and the co-op program through OEVI is really a big part of how I’ve been able to get to where I am today.”

    Kvas was nominated by Barb Tatarnic, Manager of Outreach and Continuing Education at Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) and a fellow of the OHI.

    While at Brock, Kvas excelled academically and was always eager to volunteer for CCOVI’s educational events.

    At Arterra, Kvas is focused on new product development including running new ingredient trials and testing. Lately, she has focused on improving innovation through sensory science and is working on developing a sensory program including sensory analysis and training.

    Kvas’ advice for students and grads starting out in the industry is simple: always be curious and work hard. Put the effort in, work hard and be open to new experiences,” she said.

    Kvas will be returning to campus May 10 to share her experiences and passion for science as a mentor for Brock’s Scientifically Yours program.

    Read the full story here

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  • FMS grad to cook up storm on MasterChef Canada

    The Brock community may recognize a familiar face when tuning into the Season 5 premiere of MasterChef Canada next week.

    Alumnus Michael Griffiths (BSc ’16, BEd ’16) has used his culinary prowess to secure a spot as one of 21 finalists in the televised national cooking competition, which kicks off Tuesday, April 3 on CTV.

    While Griffiths’ focus was on Mathematics and Concurrent Education during his time at Brock, the 24-year-old Richmond Hill native has always had a passion for food. As a child, he was frequently found in the kitchen helping his mother prepare the family’s meals, and later on in his university years, he often impressed his roommates with his culinary skills.

    It was during his time on campus that Griffiths learned to balance the many interests — math and food among them — that contended for his time. “I was always very engaged. I played rugby, worked as a senior supervisor at the recreation services desk and worked with a number of mathematics and outreach programs,” he said. “Brock was the kickstarter for a lot of my different adventures.”

    With a wide variety of interests still on his plate, Griffiths decided to pursue his dream of being on MasterChef, all while simultaneously working to earn his Master of Mathematics at the University of Guelph.

    At first glance, there may seem to be little overlap between mathematics and culinary arts, but Griffiths said that is not the case. He believes his math background gives him an edge in the kitchen. “I know how to think critically. I know how to think logistically,” he said. “If I’m having a party for 50 people, I know how to work out what I need to do in order to put forward an amazing dish that everyone can enjoy.”



    He is thankful for the encouragement he has received from the Brock community, which has “hit home in such an incredible way.”

    “This is another example of the outstanding support the Brock community has always provided for me.”

    Griffiths hopes to inspire his fellow Badgers to continue to work hard and follow their passions, even if it takes them down an unconventional path. “Follow your heart and realize that what you’re working hard on may not be your end goal passion, but I guarantee there’s a connection to your future there,” he said.

    MasterChef Canada premieres Tuesday, April 3 at 9 p.m. on CTV.

    Read the full story here

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