NSERC and SSHRC student competitions

Our students pitch their research

Every year, two of Brock University’s major research funders – the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) – offer competitions that showcase student research across Canada.

This is one way the federal government agencies encourage researchers to share their findings with the wider public. Getting research beyond university walls improves lives and contributes to our growth as communities and a nation.

Our students are active in these competitions. The Faculty of Graduate Studies offers many supports with these and other communications challenges through its Vitae Researcher Communications Skills program.

In the 2018 Science, Action! competition, Brock University had seven entries out of a total of 75 videos from universities across Canada!

On March 12, NSERC announced the videos that made it to the Top 25, which will now be assessed by a panel of judges. The panel will select 15 winners from this pool. Brock University has five shortlisted videos in the national group of 25. The videos are:

Cell Talk, by Matthew Mueller, says that the root cause of several diseases today is a disruption in communication between cells and examines the language that cells use to talk to one another, and how this changes in diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer. “It can sometimes be a challenge to share my research with others in an understandable way. For me, this competition means that more people can simply see and understand what I do at the lab and why it is important.”

DNA: A Mobile Molecule, by Zakia Dahi and Jina Nanayakkara, explores how DNA sequences that move around – called jumping genes” – copy and paste themselves into different parts of our genomes. The research aims to understand how “jumping genes” have led to human variation and disease. “Highlighting our work through a short video in this competition has helped us to get our family & friends excited about what we do,” says Nanayakkara.

Old Crow’s New Arctic, by Brent Thorne, shows the impacts that land cover (ie vegetation, soil, and permafrost) have on lake and river water chemistry in Old Crow Flats, Yukon. This research is crucial for understanding how lake rich Arctic regions will continue to change in response to longer warming periods as well as providing key insights to the local Vuntut Gwitchin community who live off of the land. “This competition provides my research an opportunity to increase resources spent on acquiring larger datasets which ultimately provide better insight on our study region.”

On the fly, by Taylor Lidster, shows how the fruit fly is used to study inflammation in the gut. The researchers use genetic techniques and microscopy to see any changes in the gut environment, good or bad. “Having my video in the top 75 is extremely exciting because I am proud of my research and I enjoy explaining it to others, making it in the top 25 would be nothing short of amazing!”

Wildfires of Yellowknife, by Joe Viscek, focuses on the Yellowknife, Northwest Territories region’s increasing wildfires in recent decades. The research involves monitoring how wildfire and drought conditions may be impacting the hydrology of northern boreal lakes. “The NSERC video contest is a great opportunity for us to showcase our Brock scientific research in an informative, one-minute promo that everyone can understand and appreciate.”

Here is SSHRC’s 2017 Honourable Mention:



In 2017, we had five entries in NSERC competitions:

“Fear of Falls,” Angel Phanthanourak

“Insects: A Dinner for Two,” Larissa Barelli

“A Changing Arctic,” Dan Hughes

“Grains, chains, and solitary waves,” Michelle Przedborski

“Burning Love,” finalist for NSERC’s photo competition, Viviana Cadena
(supervisor: Glenn Tattersall, professor, Department of Biological Sciences)