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Student Award Testimonials - 2010/2011

There are many remarkable students engaged in research at VIU. Here are a few of the many students who have been awarded research grants, scholarships and awards from VIU and other granting agencies.


Tri-Council Federal Granting Agencies and Internal VIU Student Research Award Recipients
Tri-Council Research Awards
VIU Research Awards




Kyle Duncan, Dane Letourneau, Megan Willis, Zack Yim, NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA), 2010.

Kyle Duncan – graduating year 2010 Bachelors in Science, Major in Biology, Minor in Chemistry

Dane Letourneau – graduating year 2013 Bachelors in Science, Double Minor in Biology and Chemistry
Megan Willis – graduating year 2012 Bachelors in Science, Double Minor in Chemistry and Math
Zack Yim – graduating year 2013 Bachelors in Science, Major in Biology, Minor in Chemistry

Vancouver Island University science students (left to right) Zach Yim, Megan Willis, Dane Letourneau and Kyle Duncan are among Canada’s most promising student researchers. They each received Undergraduate Summer Research Awards worth $4,500, and have spent the summer working in VIU

Kyle, Dane, Megan, and Zack had a common URSA project: The Applied Environmental Research Laboratory. The program includes pure and applied research related to analytical and environmental chemistry.

AERL is on the leading edge of an evolution in bringing high precision chemical measurements to the sample rather than bringing the samples back to the lab. The central innovation in this work is a membrane interface Membrane Introduction Mass Spectrometry that allows the team to continually analyze a sample by passing chemical analytes to a mass spectrometer. Each student had a specific research area that they were pursuing for their USRA. Megan was looking at membrane transport, and how different molecules travel across membranes under different chemical conditions; Kyle was working on the advancement of membrane mass spectrometry, a technique to look at larger molecules; Dane was working (along with the whole team) on Membrane Introduction Mass Spectrometry and using light to break down environmental contaminants; Zack was looking at the bi-products that disinfectants leave in our water. By receiving a USRA and by having the opportunity to work on a group project they were collectively able to share in this research. This USRA is part of the reason why they have stayed at VIU, as the university does not yet offer a Major in Chemistry; they found that this kind of research is invaluable to have in one's undergraduate experience. The AERL and this USRA gave them the opportunity, early in their academic careers, to work in a lab and understand what research is. For them university is not just about taking classes, but applying the knowledge they have gained in class to their specific research projects. Some tips that they have for other students are: "Get involved early! You don't have to be in your fourth year to participate in research, you can start at any point, just speak with your professors". And, "don't believe for a second that you are not good enough to do research, for we all started out with simple projects, and have been able to work our way up to complex chemical analysis".




Nicole Dudek, NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA), 2010.

Graduating Class of 2011
VIU - Bachelor of Science

Nicole Dudek, Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA), 2010.

As a USRA recipient Nicole worked under the supervision of Dr. Hannesson, during her third year at VIU. Her USRA project was to investigate different behavioural paradigms to study learning and memory in the cockroach model. She studied the effects of an agonist of the Neurotransmitter serotonin on aggression in the Madagascar Hissing cockroach. Completing this USRA gave her an introduction to neuroscience research, an area that she might want to work on later in her medical career.Nicole is hoping to become a doctor. The benefit of doing research at VIU, says Nicole, “is that you have the opportunity to work one-on-one with your professors, yet you are able to think for yourself, allowing you to build critical thinking skills and learn in a ’hands-on’ environment”. Nicole greatly enjoyed this experience.

She would highly recommend other students who want to become involved in research after their university experience, or students who simply want to expand their university experience to look for research opportunities during their undergraduate years. Her main piece of advice is: “Talk to your Professors! We, as students, need to remember that they hold a wealth of knowledge and are very willing to help us if we only ask!”




Kyle Doliveira, NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS), 2010.

Graduating Class of 2010
VIU - Bachelor of Computer Science

Kyle Doliveira, NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS), 2010.

While pursuing his research Kyle found that his professors were willing to help him and were very knowledgeable in their areas of specialty. He knew that in the future he wanted to pursue a Masters in Computer Science, and that research is a huge component of doing a Masters Degree anywhere; therefore doing research was not only helpful in preparing him to enter into a Masters program, but also raised his chances of being accepted. As a student at VIU one of the things that Kyle found most exciting was exploring the evolution of his ideas with professors and students from different disciplines. Kyle found that through talking to students and professors he was given new perspectives on his work. Talking about research with others and making connections is part of how the real magic of research comes together.

If he could give fellow students at VIU a piece of advice, it would be: “You will get overwhelmed with the amount of work that you have to do, so make sure you have a good support team around you! And just keep on going! The initial work is the most challenging, it is going to be hard, but as things progress it will get easier and easier. Everything will eventually just fall into place.”

Kyle graduated from VIU in 2010 with a Bachelor in Computer Science; he found that doing research in a campus environment prepared him for the rigors of his Masters Program.





Riley Glew, CIHR Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS), 2010.

Graduating Class of 2010
VIU - Bachelor of Science, Major in Biology

Riley Glew, CIHR Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS), 2010.

During his undergraduate degree in biology, Riley became interested in everything health related, especially public health. He chose to pursue this field at the University of Saskatchewan in the Masters of Public Health program because he believes that the best way to improve the population’s health is to prevent disease from occurring. This approach not only improves health but also reduces the burden on the health care system. The research that he will be doing for his thesis will be focused on the social and economic determinants of diabetes. His research goals are to inform the health care policy of diabetes in the Saskatoon Health Region. Winning the CIHR scholarship benefited him not only in the pursuit of his current degree but also for his future educational goals. Riley intends to apply for medical school upon completion of this degree, and he says:

“My hope is that winning this award is my first step on the journey required to help me reach my goal.”

“Now that I am at a larger university with students who hold degrees from all over Canada, and the world, I can see that my choice to attend a small university was a good one,” he said. “I am well prepared to succeed at graduate school. I believe the reason for this is because the professors that I was instructed by in VIU’s biology, psychology, and chemistry departments stressed problem solving and the application of knowledge whenever possible.” Excerpt from VIU news: full story.



Warsh Law Corp. Undergraduate Research Award


Jessica Legacy, Warsh Law Corp. Undergraduate Research Award, 2010

Graduating Class of 2010
VIU - Bachelor of Arts, major in English, minor in Creative Writing

Jessica Legacy, Warsh Law Corp. Undergraduate Research Award, 2010

Jessica graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English, minoring in Creative Writing and she is pursuing a Masters of Arts at the University of Alberta. The Warsh scholarship helped her to go to Italy in the summer and continue her research on medieval alchemical iconography. She first became interested in this field when she took a medieval class in her second year.  The main reward she received from the Warsh scholarship was the acknowledgement that her research is both relevant and

interesting.“Too often we begin to second-guess that our research pursuits are interesting only to ourselves; however fortunately we discover that many people have interests in the same field ” says Jessica.

Jessica believes that the benefit of non-classroom learning, while pursuing her research during her undergraduate years increased her confidence because it encouraged her to venture out of her intellectual field without the safety net of a professor or class of peers. When moving into upper level courses she became aware of the possibility that she could choose which texts spoke to her personally and engage with those in a more in-depth way.

Jessica encourages other students to “believe in themselves! University is all about finding your passion and believing that you have something to contribute to the academic world. If you are proud of your work then it is good work.”

Jessica’s career goals are to finish graduate school and then use her findings from her research of medieval divination to inform her creative writing.