Atazona, Luke


Hometown: Zorka, Ghana

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • B.A. in Economics, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana
  • M.A. in Economics, University of Applied Sciences, Berlin, Germany

Department: Economics

Date Posted: Aug 01, 2012

Growing up in Africa, masters of economics student Luke Atazona understands the developing world and harbours a sincere interest the myriad of problems that exist. His need to get involved with these issues was facilitated by opportunities to intern overseas through a new partnership between the Universities of Saskatchewan and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The major goal of the program is to provide training for Canadian graduate and law students in a UNDP initiative called the Legal Empowerment of the Poor (LEP).

Through this partnership, Atazona has had the opportunity to intern with the UNDP in Johannesburg, South Africa for four months and has put his economics knowledge to good use.

“I saw this initiative as an opportunity to share my knowledge and learn from non-economists and high-level policy makers who are interested in making changes in the developing world,” says Atazona.

Atazona brings a wealth of knowledge to the table. After finishing his bachelor’s degree in economics, he moved from Ghana to Berlin to complete a master’s degree. During this time, he pursued work in the NGO sector in Ghana and Western Europe. This training provided his foundation for graduate studies at the U of S.

Under the supervision of Dr. Joel F. Bruneau in the Department of Economics, Atazona’s graduate research is focussed on the effects of environmental regulations on wage and inequalities of Canadian workers. Through this project, he hopes to illuminate why average earning gaps are wider today than they were four decades ago and how strict environmental regulations may the culprit.

“Environmental regulations may have a negative impact on production, international competitiveness, investment flows, jobs, and earning distributions,” says Atazona. “There are concerns that if environmental regulations result in the cutback of lower level workers, it may be difficult for the workers to find jobs at matching wages.”

Berg, Everett


Hometown: Yorkton, SK

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Occupation: Teacher

Previous Education:

  • B. A., University of Saskatchewan
  • B. Ed. University of Saskatchewan

Department: Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy

Date Posted: Aug 01, 2012

Master of Public Administration student, Everett Berg, spent the summer of 2012 interning at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) office in Bangkok as part of the new partnership between the University of Saskatchewan and the UNDP. The major goal of the program is to provide training for Canadian graduate and law students in a UNDP initiative called the Legal Empowerment of the Poor (LEP).

During the four months, Berg undertook various tasks that contribute to the LEP framework, including editing a book about the Millennium Development Goals designed by the UNDP in an effort to minimize the global burden of poverty. The goals range from obtaining gender equality and facilitating universal education, to combating HIV/AIDS. Additionally, Berg has created a database of anti-corruption agencies around the world and researched legal empowerment projects at other UN country offices so the results can be published and used to educate others.

In addition to his UNDP internship, Berg has managed to juggle being a high school teacher while attending graduate studies at the U of S Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. As he was always fascinated by governance, finance, and the decision making aspects of public education, he chose graduate studies at the U of S in the hopes to expand his career opportunities by receiving an education in public administration and policy making. Berg hopes that his internship with UNDP will add to the knowledge base that he has gained during grad school and will also benefit his work in the classroom.

“Whether I choose a career in the classroom or in educational policymaking, my UNDP experience will give me a new cross-cultural and multinational perspective on education, will allow me to network with extraordinary people, and will expose me to innovative educational approaches.” says Berg.

Budney, Jen


Hometown: Saskatoon SK

Current Residence: Saskatoon SK

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Fine Art, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design
  • Master of Anthropology, Carleton University

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Murray Fulton

Department: Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy

Trained in visual fine arts and anthorpology, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate Student Jen Budney is beginning a new phase of research in public policy.


When asked to explain her proposed PhD dissertation Budney responded,


"I am interested in examining the barriers faced by Canadian art museums to increasing the cultural diversity of their audiences, and the ways in which some museums are attempting to overcome these barriers. Although it is widely understood in the art museum community that culturally diverse (including Aboriginal) visitors are disproportionately underrepresented in their audiences, very few museums have implemented programs and policies to shift their visitor demographics"


Budney's research aims to understand why and to what extent cultural inequality exists in Canadian art museums. Although pinpointing explanations is controversial, narrowing down causal factors that best explain these observations could lead to a wider audience base for Canadian art museums and the visual arts community.


Budney goes on to note that


"[She] would like to understand how art museum directors, boards, and programming staff explain the unequal access to their facilities and what they see as impediments to change. The perspectives of culturally diverse curators and other visual arts professionals who have benefited from equity programs at the Canada Council for the Arts and other funding agencies will inform [her] exploration. [Budney's] research will also include an analysis of best practices in the area of cultural diversity and audience development in art museums in North America."


Budney stresses that she hopes to develop a set of best practices or guidelines to help guide the work of Canadian art museums in creating equality of access.

Burkitbayeva, Saule


Hometown: Almaty, Kazakhstan

Previous Education:

  • B. Sc. Agricultural Economics, University of Saskatchewan
  • M. Sc. Agricultural Economics, University of Saskatchewan

Department: Bioresource Policy Business and Economics

Date Posted: Aug 01, 2012

Facilitated by the partnership between the University of Saskatchewan Canada (UofS) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), U of S Economics student Saule Burkitbayeva interned at the UNDP office in Kiev for the summer term in 2012. With the UNDP Kiev team, Burkitbayeva has been helping empower rural populations through awareness of land and property rights.

Burkitbayeva and fellow team members worked to build regional networks and develop the capacities of state legal-aid providers in Ukraine to better assist the poor and marginalized. The team took a “train the trainer” approach and provided instructional seminars to more than 400 legal aid providers. They in turn will extend this training to other service providers who deliver legal aid to citizens.

“As an agricultural economist I understand how important land rights are to rural development,” says Burkitbayeva. “This experience has encouraged me to view rural development through from both legal and economic perspectives.”

In addition to her internship, Burkitbayeva is a graduate student in the department of Bioresource Policy, Business and Economics. Being an economist with an interest in international trade, her research investigates the impact of the wheat trade liberalization. In 2009, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine accounted for approximately 15 percent of global wheat production and over a quarter of international wheat trade. Burkitbayeva’s thesis will examine the impact of Russia and Kazakhstan’s accession to the World Trade Organization and international wheat movement and prices.

“The institutional changes to be examined in this research have the potential to re-align trade flows for wheat,” says Burkitbayeva. “Such re-alignment of the international wheat trade will have a significant effect on the distribution of trade flows, prices, and will impact future investments in the grain industry.”

Davidson, Melissa


Hometown: Moosomin, SK

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Arts, U of S

Graduate Supervisor: Professor Jim Handy

Department: History

Melissa Davidson has taken up her UCAN-UNDP Fellowship in La Paz, Bolivia.  Facilitated by the partnership between the University of Saskatchewan (UofS), UCAN and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Davidson, a graduate student in the Department of History, will be applying her background in history as well as international experience in her role as UCAN-UNDP Fellow at the Country office in Bolivia for the summer of 2013. 

Davidson completed an undergraduate degree at University of Saskatchewan, earning her Bachelor of Arts degree prior to taking time off to work and travel abroad. She is currently conducting research for her Master of Arts thesis, working closely with her Supervisor Jim Handy. Her research examines the effectiveness of a widely-implemented method of facilitating land accessibility, known technically as Market Assisted Land Reform (MALR). This is a land redistribution method that is market driven and aims to facilitate access to land by providing low interest loans to the landless or poor.

Davidson decided to focus her research on this because, “inequitable access to land is a major barrier to economic development, food security, and poverty reduction,” as demand for land increases, “land policies need to be examined and re-developed.”

These research interests will help to facilitate Davidson's adjustment to her new summer position in La Paz Bolivia, where she is familiar with local concerns through her academic research and previous experiences.

When asked what are some of the practical applications of her current research, Davidson responded by stating, “Hopefully my research will contribute to a better understanding of the effectiveness of this MLAR implemented in Guatemala – its achievements, its failures, what explains these outcomes, and how these outcomes have lived up to government commitments and responsibilities to its citizens—ultimately leading to improved policies in the future.” Davidson’s UCAN-UNDP Fellowship on May 1st and runs until August 31st, 2013.

Davy, Kimberly


Hometown: Toronto, ON

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • B.A. (Hons.) Queen's University, School of Public Health

Department: Master of Public Health Candidate

Facilitated by the partnership between the University of Saskatchewan (UofS), UCAN and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), graduate student Kimberly Davy will apply her background in public health and international experience when working at the United Nation Development Programme Country office in Dhaka on issues of humanitarian relief as a UCAN-UNDP Fellow for the summer of 2013.

What inspired her to undertake this initiative? Davy began this passion by volunteering with low-income populations in Toronto, Kingston and during her study abroad program in Malaysia, South Africa and Brazil. It was after these experiences that Davy absolutely knew that her passion was working with underserved populations. As she states,

“Specifically I was interested in preventing diseases such as Malaria and HIV. After completing my undergrad, I worked with NGOs in Eastern Africa for two years. I decided I had much more to learn, so chose to do my master’s in Public Health and specialize in Epidemiology.”

When asked about how her mentors have influenced her career path Davy stated that,

“I have had many people come into my life, leave footprints on my heart and I was never the same.” For example, my mother is forever an inspiration. She got me involved in volunteering, as an elementary school student. I attribute my desire to empower under-served populations to her. It was this work through which I realized how fortunate I was to grow up with two loving parents who were able to provide for me the basic necessities and more...Samantha Nut, Paul Farmer, and Ryan Meili, have all been influential in teaching me the importance of chasing my dreams and doing what I love no matter the barriers.”

Aside from her friends and family, Davy acknowledges the support she received from students, staff and faculty at the UofS. According to Davy, what makes the UofS unique in terms of new opportunities for students is an incredibly diverse and global student population. In her words,

“...everyday you are learning something new about another culture. Additionally, the professors are engaging and accommodating, they are always happy to provide advice and guidance and are incredibly easy to approach.”

Upon graduation, Davy plans to take time and work in the areas of policy implementation on health care for low-income populations and marginalized and vulnerable populations.

Desin, Taseen S.


Hometown: Pakistan

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Occupation: Microbiologist

Previous Education:

  • B.Sc. in Biochemistry & Biotechnology (2002) from the U of S
  • B.Sc. in Microbiology & Immunology (2004) from the U of S
  • Ph.D. in Veterinary Microbiology (2010) from the U of S

Thesis: The Role of Salmonella Enteritidis Pathogenicity Island-1 in the Colonization of Chickens

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Andrew Potter and Dr. Wolfgang Koster

Department: Vaccine & Infectious Disease Organization / Veterinary Microbiology

Salmonella Enteritidis is a bacterial pathogen spread to humans through the consumption of contaminated poultry products. Infection causes gastrointestinal disease, sometimes with dire consequences. Taseen S. Desin is a recent PhD graduate from the University of Saskatchewan, whose research focuses on disrupting the spread of the virus in both poultry and humans.

“Human S. Enteritidis infections are public health concerns in N. America, and other parts of the world,” explains Desin. “These infections have a major impact on the Canadian and U.S. economies due to loss of work, and death. This was a major project, undertaken at VIDO in the Bacterial Vaccine Development Program.” Desin’s work also has broad economic implications in other animal populations, including mice and cattle.

Desin has published two academic papers - one in Infection and Immunity and a second, currently at press, in the Canadian Journal of Microbiology. “The most exciting part is discovering new things and publishing it,” he explains, “The data contained within the paper accepted in the Canadian Journal of Microbiology was the most exciting. I felt that we discovered something novel.”

Desin credits his supervisors, Dr. Andrew Potter (VIDO director) and Dr. Wolfgang Koster, with inspiring his ideas and work ethic, and providing constant support and advice. He is grateful for his parents’ life-long encouragement, which he calls a major factor in his entering the PhD program.

Desin’s has received several awards in the fields of Microbiology and Epidemiology. His current research is funded by NSERC, SHRF and Bioniche Life Sciences.

Donovan, Tara


Hometown: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Science (Honors), University of Saskatchewan (2006)

Thesis: Functional characterization of the US3 serine/threonine kinase in BHV-1

Department: Vaccinology & Immunotherapeutics

Date Posted: Jun 04, 2012

MSc student, Tara Donovan, is knocking out viral genes to better understand how they contribute to the pathogenesis of Herpes viruses. Her work has involved investigating a viral protein, called US3, which may be important for viral success in Bovine herpesvirus 1 (BHV-1), a virus that specifically infects cattle.

“In related herpesviruses, US3 contributes to viral pathogenesis,” says Donovan. “We are interested in determining if the effect of US3 is the same in BHV-1.”

BHV-1 causes severe disease in cattle, with symptoms ranging from respiratory infections to abortions. Canada’s cattle industry is particularly affected by the disease due to the strain of BHV-1 present in North America and the large size of the cattle population.

While there are numerous vaccines on the market, all have issues with safety or effectiveness. The ultimate goal of Donovan’s research is to contribute the knowledge gained from studying US3 to the development of new vaccines.

“There is a big need for improved BHV-1 vaccines,” says Donovan. “Without a vaccine, the cattle industry will continue to see significant financial losses due to BHV-1.”

Ferguson, Leah


Hometown: Humboldt, SK

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Psychology, University of Saskatchewan
  • Master of Science in Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Kent Kowalski

Department: PhD Candidate in the College of Kinesiology at the University of Saskatchewan

Leah Ferguson is currently a PhD candidate in Kinesiology at the University of Saskatchewan. She explores young women athletes' psychological flourishing in sport, and how self-compassion influences one's ability to reach full potential in sport. When asked why she chose to study this topic Leah responded,


“Young women athletes can face a variety of painful and difficult experiences in sport, so I think it is imperative to try to find ways to foster positive sport experiences. To that end, I wanted to explore potential resources that might help young women flourish in sport.”


Ferguson is also active in her commitment to teaching on campus. She has participated in various conferences and sessions with the on-campus Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness and has worked diligently on perfecting her craft.


With tremendous opportunities at the University of Saskatchewan, as well as academic visits at McGill University and the University of Western Australia, Ferguson plans to continue her career in academia by collaborating with researchers at the national and international-level. She enjoys the excitement of travelling, meeting new people, as well as athletics. Her passion is in teaching, education and learning.

Fidler, Courtney


Hometown: Victoria, BC

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • B.A. University of Victoria
  • M.A.Sc. University of British Columbia

Thesis: Arctic Offshore Oil and Gas Development: The Role of Impact Benefit Agreements in Regional Scale Impact Assessment

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Bram Noble

Department: Geography & Planning

“The race to explore and develop the Arctic’s treasure trove of natural resources has been dubbed the “Cold Rush. But as the Arctic’s multi-billion dollar oil and gas industry seeks to extract some of Canada’s most sought-after resources, it needs to proceed in a way that upholds aboriginal rights and interests and minimizes risk to the environment”, says University of Saskatchewan student Courtney Fidler.

Fidler, a PhD student in geography and planning, has been awarded the Social Sciences and Humanities Council Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, worth $150,000 over three years. She will travel to the north to develop a new planning tool that will help aboriginal communities, industry, and government agencies more effectively mitigate the negative environmental and social impacts of northern resource development.

“Her work takes a brand new approach,” says supervisor and UofS environmental assessment professor Bram Noble. Fidler believes the current approach to impact assessment and management in the Beaufort Sea region is not good enough. “We need to look at the big picture, and take a co-ordinate regional approach that goes beyond the current project-by-project framework”.

Fidler has listened to and shared knowledge with indigenous landowners as a visiting scholar at the University of Queensland Sustainable Minerals Institute in Australia. There she co-authored a report on the social impacts of resource development, and contributed to a guidebook on gender issues for Rio Tinto, a multinational mining company. With a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, a master’s in mining engineering, and training in environmental regulation, legislation and political science, Fidler brings a unique understanding of social issues that engineers and scientists focusing on technical feasibility don’t often have.

With five publications, and numerous awards and scholarships to her credit, Noble adds “The research she is doing is vital, and she is already building a national reputation for it.”

Gaultois, Michael


Hometown: Nanaimo, BC

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Occupation: Master’s student

Previous Education:

  • B.Sc. (Honours) Chemistry, University of Alberta

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Andrew Grosvenor

Department: Chemistry

Michael Gaultois, a Chemistry graduate student is a 2010 recipient of a Julie Payette-NSERC Research Scholarship, valued at $25,000. Gaultois studies Spectroscopy, which explores the interactions of matter with energy, and investigating materials and their properties. “My thesis involves advanced spectroscopic techniques using synchrotron radiation,” explains Gaultois, “to investigate next-nearest-neighbour effects, which are one of many competing effects that can cause these spectral energies to change or shift.” In this emerging field, Gaultois is attracted by the unorthodox and unique nature of the work, and even though almost everything you need for solid-state chemistry is new, he is thankful that his thesis supervisor, Dr. Andrew Grosvenor, has great experience in the area.

Gaultois says that the most exciting part of his research is “working with particle accelerators and glass blowing. Working on the synchrotron (the Canadian Light Source) is a blast, as long as you can stay awake for the long shifts. It’s a particle accelerator, just like you see in movies and read about in the news, and its every mad scientist’s wildest dream. It’s always mind-blowing to think tens of thousands of years of human development and technology has gone into whizzing things around near the speed of light, with energy being coherently channeled into a spot on your sample, all so that we can generate a simple plot with an X and a Y axis and a few coordinates that form a curve.”

After some technical training in glassblowing, Gaultois is also able to make his own quartz glassware for some of the reactions he does. “It's a lot of fun once you're good at it,” he jokes, “and I use the word “good” lightly, as when I hang out with real glassblowers and see the work they do I can truly appreciate the skill they have.”

No matter where the future takes him, Gaultois believes “strongly that I should contribute to the research community, which has greatly benefited human society and culture, and I believe research will be a large part of my career.”

Hammad, Rasheed Bani


Hometown: Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Occupation: Researcher/Graduate Student

Previous Education:

  • B.Sc.Villanova University, Villanova PA (USA)
  • M.Sc. Temple University, Philadelphia, PA (USA)

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. David J. Schreyer

Department: Anatomy and Cell Biology

Rasheed Bani Hammad a PhD candidate in the department Anatomy and Cell Biology, studies the Peripheral Nervous System and is interested in its regenerative abilities.

“My quest is to look for some of the molecular mechanisms underlying the process of peripheral regeneration,” explains Hammad. “My work showed that some key transcription factors are activated in the process peripheral nerve regeneration, leading to increased expression of key growth associated proteins known to be expressed during the regenerative process.”

Hammad explains that the he has always been fascinated with neurons and their involvement in every aspect of our lives. “Doing science is an addictive mental and physical behavior; once you achieve an objective there is excitement. You always ask yourself: what is next? Each time you achieve an objective, the excitement of finding a new piece of the puzzle never settles unless you pursue a new one.” Hammad hopes his research will lead to a better understanding of peripheral nerve regeneration, which will assist in the intervention and recovery of traumatic injuries.

At the U of S, Hammad has spent time researching and working at the Cameco M.S. Neuroscience Research Center, which taught him skills he says he will carry with him for life. “The training that I have acquired over the course of my PhD pursuit qualifies me to be in any research oriented setting, particularly in the area of Neuroscience.”

Hammad's supervisor, Dr. David J. Schreyer, is the head researcher at the Cameco MS Neuroscience Research Center. Hammad describes Schreyer as a fountain of knowledge. “He has always been there when I needed academic or non-academic help. He treated me with utmost respect and showed me how to love what I was doing, and how to love science.” Hammad explains that it is the combination of functional lab work and academic research that has made his time at U of S so fulfilling.

Hammad has presented his research two years in a row at the Society for Neuroscience conference (07, 08). After completing his PhD at the University of Saskatchewan, he plans to return to the United Arab Emirates and initiate a center for research focusing on spinal chord and brain injuries. Although he jokes that “the summers there can get to over 50 degrees Celsius; so come and visit when the temperature here in Saskatoon hovers around minus 50”, he admits that he will miss the changing seasons of Saskatchewan.

Hatala, Andrew


Hometown: Calgary, AB

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Arts from the University of Saskatchewan

Thesis: Mental Health & Spirituality in Cultural Context: An ethnographic examination of how traditional healing and Maya Indigenous spirituality act as either risk or protective factors for mental distress and disorder

Graduate Supervisor: James B. Waldram

Department: Psychology

What is the relationship between spirituality and mental health? How can our Western medical model make room for aboriginal knowledge and approaches in its treatment of mental disorders? These questions and others are at the heart of a new study being undertaken by Psychology PhD student, Andrew Hatala who is exploring the relation between spirituality and mental health. Hatala states, “I strongly believe that many contemporary psychological issues (i.e. depression, anxieties, etc.) can be addressed from a holistic position where spiritual practices (i.e., finding a deeper meaning and purpose in suffering, meditation, prayer, etc.) can work alongside more scientific approaches to optimize individual and community health and well-being.”

In an attempt to find answers to his questions, Hatala is living in the Central American nation of Belize for most of 2011 to study the methods of ten indigenous healers who have formed a group called the Q’eqchi Healers’ Association (QHA). Hatala explains, “The QHA has invited Dr. Waldram, an experienced medical anthropologist and my current supervisor, to work with them in documenting their healing practices, preserve their indigenous knowledge systems, and contribute to cultural revitalization projects.” While the main study by Dr. Waldram will be more comprehensive, Hatala’s research will focus on how the Q’eqchi healers treat a range of mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety, and how their patients respond to these treatments.

By documenting the healers’ methods using clinical case studies that follow their patients’ treatment experiences over time, Hatala hopes that what he learns from the practitioners in the QHA will allow a close comparison between Maya indigenous forms of treating mental health issues and Western types of medicine and psychotherapy. Ultimately this will help bridge the science-spirituality gap in treatment approaches. Hatala feels “It’s important for people to reflect on our (i.e., Western society’s) increasing reliance on drugs and external therapies to alleviate psychological sufferings and begin to become open to alternative treatment approaches to various conditions. I also feel strongly that indigenous knowledge systems are important, if not crucial, as humanity becomes increasingly more comfortable with alternative forms of medicine and healing.”

In the end, Hatala is looking, not only to broaden medical knowledge of treatment approaches to mental illness, but help provide what he calls “culturally and contextually appropriate clinical practice guidelines for policy-makers, institutions, and healthcare professional working in multi-cultural contexts - like Canada”.

Hatala, who was recently promoted into the PhD program in January of 2011, is currently in Belize conducting his research.

Henderson, Allison


Hometown: Yorkton, SK

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • B.Sc., University of Saskatchewan
  • M.Sc., Simon Fraser University

Thesis: Recovery of Saskatchewan’s Grassland Songbirds at Risk: Linking Ranchers, Range Health, and Grassland Songbird Abundance

Graduate Supervisor: Maureen Reed, School of Environment and Sustainability, and Stephen Davis, Canadian Wildlife Service, Regina

Department: School of Environment and Sustainability

Allison Henderson, PhD student in the School of Environment and Sustainability, is hoping to make a difference in the recovery of several prairie avian “species at risk” (SAR). But while grounded in the science of prairie ecosystems, her approach is uniquely interdisciplinary because it takes into consideration the socioeconomic variables that influence ranchers’ decisions about range-land management, and links this to the abundance of at-risk birds like Sprague’s Pipit, McCown’s Longspur, and Chestnut-collared Longspur, three species that are the focus of her study.

Henderson is focusing on Saskatchewan grasslands that are part of the Milk River watershed, which extends from the Milk River area in southern Alberta, through a large swath of south-western Saskatchewan, and portions of north-central Montana. “In Saskatchewan, the majority of grassland songbird habitat is privately owned or managed and used in livestock production,” Henderson says, “However, important research that identifies factors influencing habitat stewardship and rangeland management in this system has yet to be conducted.”

Henderson interviews ranchers about the factors that influence how they use their land, and uses this — along with the scientific information gathered about grassland health and bird populations — to establish data that can be used in making future decisions about grassland management. “My research is directly applicable to recovery planning for three grassland songbirds that are considered at risk,” Henderson explains, “I also hope that my work will highlight the important contributions that livestock producers make to wildlife conservation.”

Originally from Yorkton, Henderson is supervised by Dr. Maureen Reed, a social geographer in the School of Environment and Sustainability, and Dr. Stephen Davis, a wildlife biologist and songbird specialist with the Canadian Wildlife Service in Regina. She chose to pursue her PhD at the U of S because, “I was looking for a university where I could do interdisciplinary research in support of wildlife conservation. I am trained as a natural scientist but have always been interested in the social side of conservation biology. The new School of Environment and Sustainability is a great fit for my work. My ability to conduct both natural and social science research in a single PhD dissertation is both challenging and rewarding. I love being in the field conducting bird point counts and interviewing producers. Spending time in the field is my favourite part of my work.”

Ilic, Aleksandra


Hometown: Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Previous Education:

  • B.A. in Law and Society, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada

Department: Law

Date Posted: Aug 01, 2012

Although Ilic grew up in Sarajevo, her family fled to the bordering country of Montenegro before the Bosnian War. Now, as Montenegro is recovering from the horrific 2010 floods, which forced thousands to abandon their homes and caused an enormous amount of damage to precious agricultural land, Ilic has her chance to give back to the country which helped her family so many years ago.

During the summer term 2012, Ilic has been interning in the UNDP office in Montenegro as part of the new partnership between the University of Saskatchewan and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The major goal of the program is to provide training for Canadian graduate and law students in a UNDP initiative called the Legal Empowerment of the Poor (LEP).

She is working with the Disaster Risk Reduction unit on a strategy to diminish the chance of a natural disaster, like the 2010 floods, repeating itself. Part of the strategy involves reducing the number illegal and irregular settlements which are typically not built to satisfy safety codes and are especially vulnerable during natural disasters.

“As an incentive for owners of informal or illegal structures to apply for the legalization of these structures, the UNDP Montenegro has set forth a strategy to encourage owners to retrofit their homes to make them more energy efficient,” says Ilic. “I am extremely excited to be part of this initiative.”

Ilic believes her interest in law stems from her mother who was a lawyer in the former Yugoslavia. From her mother, she was taught that hard work and perseverance pays off, and has used this motto during her pursuit of a career in law. Illic began to study law at the University of Calgary where she obtained a BA in Law and Society. Following her degree, she worked for the Canadian Constitution Foundation providing support to the Executive Director, Litigation Director, and articling students. Afterwards, Ilic enrolled in the Juris Doctor program at the U of S where she is currently pursuing a law degree.

Jewell, Lisa


Hometown: Athabasca, AB

Current Residence: Edmonton, AB

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Science, University of Alberta
  • Master of Arts, University of Saskatchewan
  • PhD of Applied Social Psychology, University of Saskatchewan

Thesis: “I can hear it in the way they look at me…”: Gay and lesbian university students’ experiences of blatant and subtle interpersonal discrimination

Graduate Supervisor: Melanie Morrison

Department: Psychology

Psychology student, Lisa Jewell, is exploring a form of discrimination called “homonegativity”, which is based on sexual orientation. For her MA research, she approached the topic from perspective of the discriminator. Now, for her PhD studies, Jewell has concentrated on the experiences of gay and lesbian students who have been subjected to anti-gay/lesbian behaviour on the university campus.

The gay and lesbian students who volunteered to participate in her research were interviewed and, over a ten-day period, recorded any day-to-day incidents of homonegativity. Ultimately, Jewell found that it was the more subtle forms of discrimination that her participants found “more invalidating, demeaning, and dehumanizing.”

“Several participants indicated that with blatant discrimination they were aware of the person’s intentions to harm them in some way…and, as a result, could easily dismiss this person as hopelessly prejudiced,” Jewell explains, “With respect to subtle discrimination…the gay and lesbian students could never be certain whether that person was actually prejudiced toward gay men and lesbian women and meant to harm them. They also noted that those (heterosexuals) around them often did not recognize these behaviours as discriminatory. Consequently, they spent more time ruminating about these incidents, doubting their own interpretations of the event, and questioning how they should respond to these occurrences.”

Jewell’s work is an important contribution to the emerging body of research on the impact of subtle discrimination. Proving that subtle forms of discrimination, while seemingly minor, can be more harmful than blatant forms of discrimination, she identifies areas where intervention efforts might focus on reducing homonegativity in society, such as increasing heterosexuals’ awareness about the behaviours that constitute discrimination. She reports, “Often heterosexuals claim that this language is meaningless—my study suggests that this is not the case when it is heard by sexual minority persons.”

Jewell has studied with Dr. Melanie Morrison for both her MA and PhD. She feels ready for the future noting, “Under Melanie’s guidance, I feel that I have grown into a skilled researcher and, … I feel well-prepared for the world that awaits me.”

Jha, Rajesh


Hometown: Janakpurdham, Nepal

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry from: Tribhuvan University, Nepal
  • Master of Animal Science from: Wageningen University, Netherlands

Thesis: Fibre Fermentation in the Pig Intestine: Effect on Metabolite Production and Nitrogen Excretion

Graduate Supervisor: Pascal Leterme

Department: Animal and Poultry Science

Finding the right food-stuffs for animal feed that is sustainable for farmers, will satisfy consumer demands for pork produced using antibiotic-free diets, and will help reduce nitrogen levels in pig barns has been the work of U of S doctoral student, Rajesh Jha. Originally from Nepal, where he received his Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry in 1996, Jha studied for his Master of Animal Science in the Netherlands before coming to Saskatchewan for his doctorate. Jha’s research seeks to produce an optimum growth-promoting environment without the use of antibiotics and with minimal environmental impact.

“There is increasing demand for pork produced using antibiotic free diets,” Jha explains, “[At the same time,] nitrogen excretion from commercial pig barns is another issue the industry is dealing with. Several approaches have been proposed to deal with these socio-technical challenges, but these are neither practical nor sustainable.” Instead, Jha’s findings reveal that feed stuffs like hull-less barleys and pea fibres provide the fermentable fiber necessary to reduce nitrogen excretion (which produces the foul smells associated with large pig barns), and modulate the pigs’ innards without using drugs. “These ingredients are produced on a large scale in western Canada,” Jha says, “and are readily available at a comparatively cheap price. The findings of my study have both socio-technical and environmental benefits, which can be adopted by the pork industry to maintain their competitiveness.”

“Certainly it’s hard to leave your beloved family members,” Jha reports on his relocation to Canada, “but you have to sacrifice something to get something. The life-long encouragement and support of my family is a major factor in my success.” Besides his studies, Jha also volunteers both on- and off-campus. Perhaps because of his attitude and his extra-curricular involvement, he concludes, “I have no regrets, I am happy with my career path.” Dr. Jha is presently employed as a Research Associate with the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta.

Jose, Alen


Hometown: Kerala, India

Current Residence: Saskatoon S

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Engineering Vinayaka Missions University

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Jerzy Szpunar

Department: Department of Biomedical Engineering

Alen Jose is a graduate student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan. 


Jose’s research focuses on developing new ways to reduce the corrosion rate and increase biocompatibility of titanium implants. Current materials do not achieve full biocompatibility. Removal of existing material is often done surgically due to years of toxic metal ions releasing into the patient's body. The effect is an increased likelihood of inflammation, infection and cancers.


“The use of commercially pure titanium has a great advantage over any other material used in the past decades, yet improvements are required to increase the quality,” says Jose.


“My work examines procedures called biomimetic coatings of calcium and its derivatives (bone minerals) in an attempt to discover new surface coatings  that would prolong the life of  implants inside the human body.”


If successful, Jose's research will lead to the development of new surface improvement techniques for the surgical use of bone materials, reducing the likelihood of patients experiencing serious, long term side-effects when undergoing treatment.


“Due to an increase in the number of patients suffering from the bone related diseases and injuries from accidents, there is a substantial requirement of implants to support, repair and recover hard bone tissues,” says Jose.


Jose is currently working closely with his supervisor Dr. Jerzy Szpunar, who has provided tremendous mentoring and experience throughout Jose's research. 


According to Jose, “the University of Saskatchewan provides the required exposure to industrial level applications of your ideas in labs and research. I have been able to discuss new ideas with experts in my field including world renowned scientist Anthony Atala.”


Jose plans to complete his Master of Science (M.Sc.) degree in Biomedical Engineering in 2015.

Journeay, Shane W.


Hometown: Liverpool, NS

Current Residence: Halifax, NS

Occupation: Medical student (Dalhousie University) and CEO of Nanotechnology Toxicology Consulting and Training Corporation

Previous Education:

  • Certificate in Space Studies, International Space University (2006)
  • M. Sc. Human Thermoregulation and Cardiovascular Physiology, Univ. of Ottawa (2003)
  • B. Sc. Hons. Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa (2001)

Thesis: Nanotoxicology: Pulmonary Toxicity Studies on Self-Assembling Rosette Nanotubes

Department: Toxicology

“My work,” reflects Shane, “represents some of the first work in the field of nanotoxicology, which combines principles of nanotechnology and toxicology.”

In 2003, Shane entered his study of nanotoxicology, which examines the potential toxicological responses of living organisms to engineered nanomaterials and devices. (Briefly, nanomaterial is a material engineered at the atomic or molecular level to have specific physical and/or chemical properties, at size less than 100nm.) Since very little is known about how nanomaterials react in living tissues and the environment due to their size and novel properties, research in this new branch of toxicology has far-reaching implications for the application of nanotechnology to drug, cosmetic, and manufacturing industries.

Shane studied the toxicity of a nanomaterial known as rosette nanotubes, which have a variety of potential applications including drug delivery and biomaterials. Since then, he has been invited to speak to many organizations including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Health Canada, and the American Industrial Hygiene Association; has represented Canada at the 2006 International Space University Summer session program in France; and has won numerous poster awards. His research has also been published in SMALL Journal, Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, and Inflammation Research.

Korthuis, Mark


Hometown: Saskatoon

Current Residence: Saskatoon

Occupation: Development Officer

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Alberta (2006)
  • MA in Northern Governance & Development

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Joe Garcia (Department of Political Studies)

Department: International Centre of Northern Governance & Development

Date Posted: Aug 01, 2012

Mark Korthuis is an enthusiastic advocate of the North’s potential and ascribes to the Harvard Project’s finding that strong sovereignty, institutions, culture, and leadership are critical to both current and future social and economic development in Saskatchewan’s North. He has held the positions of Program Assistant and Outreach Coordinator with the ICNGD where he helped ensure alternative education programs and models were available to Northern Saskatchewan regions.

Mark embarked on the MNGD program to build his own capacity and to better understand the complex issues, challenges, and opportunities present in Northern Saskatchewan. His area of research interest was northern governance and specifically the role that governmental entities play in good governance and sustainable development in Northern Saskatchewan.

His research internship was with Cameco where he was able to work with his academic and industry supervisors to provide four recommendations on how industry can better engage with specific governmental and non-governmental entities in Northern Saskatchewan.

After successfully completing his MNGD program requirements in January 2012, Mark is the first graduate of the MNGD’s 2010 pilot cohort. He is currently employed by the Aboriginal-led, northern-focused Credenda Virtual School as a Development Officer where he uses his professional and academic experiences to engage Credenda’s new and existing partners in the northern regions of Saskatchewan.

Krakowetz, Chantel


Hometown: Christopher Lake

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • B. Sc. University of Saskatchewan
  • M. Sc. Transferred to PhD in first year

Thesis: Investigating the phylogeographic and coevolutionary relationships between the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) and its associated human pathogens (Borrelia burgdorferi and Anaplasma phagocytophilum)

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Neil B. Chilton

Department: Biology

“Ticks are one of the most important carriers of bacteria and viruses that cause disease in humans in North America,” says Krakowetz’s supervisor UofS biology professor Neil Chilton. Tick season has begun early this year in Saskatchewan, and understanding which ticks might carry harmful bacteria is extremely important to Health Canada, which monitors tick populations and assesses risks to people.

As a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship recipient, Krakowetz has been awarded $100,000 over two years from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council to advance knowledge of deer ticks and the bacteria they carry.

“Chantel’s work will make an important contribution to studies measuring human health risks of the deer tick as its distribution in Canada changes,” says Chilton.

Deer tick (also known as the black-legged tick) populations are spreading into south-eastern Canada from the U.S., and are expected to move further north as climate change continues. They carry a number of bacteria, including the species that causes Lyme disease, which affects more than 20,000 people in the U.S. every year.

By comparing the genetic makeup of different deer tick populations from around the U.S. and Canada, Krakowetz will learn whether the bacterium that causes Lyme disease is associated with specific strains of ticks.

“It still remains to be seen exactly where these ticks are coming from and what strains of bacteria they are bringing with them,” she explains.

Her findings could be useful to the study of mosquitoes, which carry microorganisms that cause malaria, a disease that affects over 300 million people worldwide.

“This scholarship is incredibly motivating – it is reassurance that my research is not only headed in the right direction, but that it is going to have a positive impact,” she says.

Photo by Scott Bell

Lilbæk, Gro


Hometown: Allerød, Denmark

Current Residence: Edmonton, AB

Occupation: Post-Doc Fellow, University of Alberta

Previous Education:

  • M. Sc. in Hydrogeology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (2003)
  • B. Sc. Honours in Quaternary Geology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (2001)

Thesis: Compositional Change of Meltwater Infiltrating Frozen Ground

Department: Centre for Hydrology, Geography & Planning

“Knowledge about the flow pathway of snowmelt ions is important for determining the aquatic or terrestrial sink for these ions and the timing of ion delivery to water bodies,” says Gro. “The overall goal of my research was to obtain a better understanding of how flow paths in frozen soil and their flow celerity alter water chemistry as this may help in larger efforts to use chemistry to differentiate between surface flow, flow in the organic layer, and flow in the mineral soil.”

Gro’s research showed that frozen ground underneath a melting snowpack may not only alter the flow path but also the ion load in runoff water. The presence of a basal ice layer causes all meltwater to run off and further enrich the ion concentration. When no basal ice is present, enhanced solute infiltration causes a greater ion load to infiltrate frozen mineral soil leading to relative dilute runoff water.

“A better understanding of the alteration of chemical composition by flow paths is important as this impacts nutrient and contamination delivery to the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems,” adds Gro. “And being able to infer the flow path from chemical alterations can help us to assess relative storage time, which is important for hydrograph response and has further hydrochemical impacts.”

Parts of Gro’s research has been published in Hydrological Processes. Also, in 2008, the highest student prize awarded in Canadian Hydrology—the D.M. Gray Award—was granted to Gro for best student paper.

Lund, Clinton


Hometown: Midale, SK

Current Residence: Toronto, ON

Occupation: Postdoctoral Fellow

Previous Education:

  • B. Sc. in Chemistry, U of S

Thesis: Synthesis and Characterization of Group-13-Bridged [1]- and [1.1]Metallacyclophanes

Department: Chemistry

“To date,” says Clinton, “organometallic polymers have been shown to have many interesting properties including reversible electrochromic behaviour (aka electric conductivity that can be enhanced with photoxidation) and magnetism. But, the study of organometallic polymers is still in its infancy—many other possible applications have yet to be discovered.”

Clinton aimed, first, to synthesize and characterize strained organometallic monomers that could be used to prepare organometallic polymers via ring-opening polymerization. Second, he planned to synthesize and characterize unstrained group-13-bridged [1.1]metallarenophanes to discern whether any degree of electronic communication exists between the transition metals of these compounds.

In the end, he discovered a new ring-opening reaction, catalyzed by donor molecules, which could potentially be altered to initiate ring-opening polymerization of the strained [1]metallarenophanes. He also determined that gallium-bridged [1.1]metallarenophanes are Class II compounds: both transition metals are reversibly oxidized/reduced at slightly different potentials. In other words, these materials can potentially conduct electric charge and the metals “communicate” with one another.

Clinton’s work has been published in eleven journals including Inorganic Chemistry, Organometallics and the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Ma, John Zhen Guo


Hometown: Hebei, China

Current Residence: Montreal, QC

Occupation: Post-Doctoral Fellow, Canadian Space Agency

Previous Education:

  • Ph. D. in Electrical Engineering, Tsinghua University, China (1995)
  • M. Sc. in Electrical Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China (1991)
  • B. Sc. in Electrical Engineering, Hebei University of Technology, China (1985)

Thesis: Ion Velocity Distributions in Inhomogeneous and Time-dependent Auroral Situations

Graduate Supervisor: Professor Jean-Pierre St. Maurice, Canada Research Chair, Institute of Space and Atmospheric Studies, U of S

Department: Physics and Engineering Physics

The aurora dances across the northern sky inspired John to take on his study of aurorae, which often break down into elongated filaments parallel to the geomagnetic field lines with cylindrically symmetric structures. John aimed at studying the ion distribution function and transport properties in response to a sudden introduction of a radial electric field in such a cylindrical geometry.

John discovered various shapes of the ion distribution functions under different conditions (like ring, horseshoe, tear-drop, and core-halo) and found evolutions of corresponding bulk parameters, such as density, drift, temperature, and heat flow.

John expects his results may be used to address high-resolution satellite/rocket observations by data-fitting simulations.

Awards & Publications:

  • Visiting Fellowship, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (2009)
  • Ma, J.Z.G., J.-P. St.-Maurice, and A. Hirose, 2009. Non-wave mechanism of transverse ion heating in magnetic flux tubes. Physica Scripta, 80(2): 025501.
  • Ma, J.Z.G. and A. Hirose, 2009. Parallel propagation of ion solitions in magnetic flux tubes. Physica Scripta, 79(4):045502.
  • Ma, J.Z.G. and A. Hirose, 2009. High-frequency electrostatic lower-hybrid (LH) waves in magnetic flux tubes. Physica Scripta, 79(3):035503.
  • Ma, J.Z.G., J.-P. St.-Maurice, 2008. Ion distribution functions in cylindrically symmetric electric fields in the auroral ionosphere: The collision-free case in a uniformly charged configuration. Journal of Geophysical Research, 113: A05312. 


MacDonald, Tracy


Hometown: Nelson, BC

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Science, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada

Department: Toxicology

Date Posted: Jun 01, 2012

According to toxicology PhD student Tracy MacDonald, zebrafish may hold clues to how mercury damages human cells. MacDonald’s research involves identifying how mercury damages zebrafish tissue and which types of mercury are the most harmful.

Mercury poisoning in humans is caused by accumulation of mercury in tissues, typically due to consumption of fish which are high on the food chain, such as sharks. The compound often accumulates in nervous tissue, leading to central nervous system disruption. This makes developing children and fetuses the most susceptible to the damage.

“One billion people depend on fish as their primary source of protein worldwide,” says MacDonald. “Because children are at the greatest risk for mercury toxicity, we used a model vertebrate, the zebrafish, to study how mercury accumulation affects a developing organism.”

MacDonald and her team are investigating two naturally-occurring forms of mercury to determine which is the most damaging to a developing organism. To do this, they expose the zebrafish to different types of mercury, and use the synchrotron to image the accumulated mercury in the fish. So far, they have found that the organic form of mercury, typically found in fish, is the most harmful.

“Our results show that fish exposed to organic mercury had mercury accumulation in the eye lenses and muscle tissue, whereas the fish exposed to [other forms] of mercury did not,” says MacDonald.

The goal of the research is to determine which types of mercury are the most dangerous so that neutralizing compounds can be developed. Once an effective compound has been developed, MacDonald will use her zebrafish to determine how the compound can be used to prevent mercury poisoning in humans.

Maini, Sabia


Hometown: Abohar, Punjab, India

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Pharmacy, Guru Nanak Dev University, India

Thesis: “To determine the potential sunscreen properties of flavanols”

Department: School of Pharmacy and Nutrition

Pharmacy and Nutrition PhD student Sabia Maini believes that an apple a day not only keeps the doctor away, but also harbors properties which could prevent sunburns. Maini and her supervisor, Ed Krol, are investigating flavenoids, which give fruit their colors, as “greener” alternatives to sunscreens.

“Flavenoid production protects plants against damage due to sun exposure. We want to determine if these flavenoids can also protect human skin by preventing sun damage from broad-spectrum radiation,” says Maini.

The first part of Maini’s research has involved developing a highly sensitive test to measure the amount of skin damage after exposure to ultraviolet radiation. The next step is to determine the capacity of a number of fruit flavonoids, such as those present in apples and onions, to protect the skin from UV-induced damage.

“In the future, we hope that plant-based sunscreens will provide better protection than traditional sunscreens,” says Maini. “The majority of sunscreens currently available only screen against the UVB portion of sunlight, whereas flavonoids could provide more broad-spectrum protection.”

Maleki, Farhad


Hometown: Eslamabad Garb, a small city in the western part of Iran

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Applied Mathematics, Razi University
  • Master of Computer Science, Amirkabir University

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Tony Kusalik

Department: Department of Computer Science

Farhad Maleki, born in rural Iran, is now working towards his PhD under the supervison of Dr. Anthony Kusalik in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Saskatchewan.

After receiving a Master of Computer Science degree, and working as an instructor, Maleki was eager to continue his academic career in pursuing his PhD in bioinformatics.

Maleki’s acquaintance with a non-profit, non-political, and non-governmental charity organization aimed at supporting children suffering from cancer, motivated his research focus. Maleki now studies the calibration and application of sophisticated machine learning techniques in the area of bioinformatics. His results may one day be used to learn more about cancer and other diseases.

Maleki’s PhD research lies at the intersection of Computer Science and Biology, where Maleki aims to calibrate Artificial Intelligence methods, creating new ways to efficiently deal with the intersection of biological and computer algorithmic problems.

Maleki was been awarded the 2013 Dean’s Scholarship.

McGuire, Patricia


Hometown: MacDiarmid, ON

Current Residence: Thunder Bay, ON

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Arts from Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario
  • Masters degree from Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Thesis: The Historiography of Lake Nipigon: An Exploratory Study into the Resilience of the Anishinaabe

Graduate Supervisor: Patricia Monture, Colleen Dell

Department: Sociology

The interrelationship of land, identity, and community knowledge forms the basis Patricia McGuire’s groundbreaking research. “I am weaving a base for a theory of Anishinaabe social history based on our knowledge(s),” the Sociology student explains, “The resilience evident in Anishinaabe communities is being explored as our relationships to land. I am using story telling as the methodology.”

It’s a timely approach, given the drive for methodologies that draw from a variety of disciplines. “Anishinaabe ways of viewing history are relational, interrelated with our lands, and inform our collective identities,” she says, “Rather than trying to fit Anishinaabe knowledge into academia, the opposite has to occur, fitting academic knowledge into Anishinaabe knowledge. I am Anishinaabe Metis and most of my grandmothers and grandfathers were Anishinaabe. This was also a way to honour my relations who made sure that we knew our Anishinaabe origins.”

McGuire’s experience of graduate studies at the U of S has been, she says, both exciting and fraught with stresses, not the least of which was the sudden death of her first supervisor, Patricia Monture, in November 2010. “Trish was a good friend and a brilliant scholar,” McGuire recalls, “She mentored me in how to write in academic formats and how to publish. We jointly edited a book called, First Voices – An Aboriginal Woman’s Reader, released in December 2009. This was a labour of love for our respective communities and a meeting of our responsibilities as Indigenous women. I will treasure the time and effort that we spent doing this work.”

Canadian Research Chair for Substance Abuse, Colleen Dell, is McGuire’s new supervisor and has helped her to ensure that her studies did not suffer. McGuire is now one of two research coordinators for a Canadian Institute for Health Research project. Like her research, this project is about finding an approach to Indigenous issues that draw from Aboriginal knowledge and lived experiences. McGuire envisions “Community social histories that reflect who we are, how we created knowledge, how we transmitted knowledge, and how we have maintained our knowledge.”

There is limited opportunity for many Anishinaabe to be on their land with their families and a paucity of written material that looks at the Anishinaabe community from a strength perspective. Through her research and writing, McGuire hopes to re-instill a sense of pride and love for and within the Anishinaabe community. After she graduates, McGuire plans to write an Anishinaabe history, a book, she says, “that can be used in schools so that other generations can learn who their people are in the Lake Superior and Lake Nipigon area.”

McLaren, Colin


Hometown: Guelph, ON

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Laurentian University
  • Bachelor of Education, Laurentian University
  • Master of Science, Wilfrid Laurier University

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Kevin Spink

Department: PhD Candidate in the College of Kinesiology at the U of S

Colin McLaren’s proposed thesis aims to understand the social influence of youth sport participation. Specifically, McLaren hopes to examine the interaction of the coach-peer- and parent initiated motivational climate and how this is linked to group and individual level processes. This research has implications in understanding how and why youth athletes return to sport from one season to the next, taking into consideration motivating psychological processes. When asked why he chose to focus his research on this area, McLaren responded,


“As a participant in sport, as well as a youth sport coach, I have had a firsthand account of the dynamics of youth sport teams and the environments that foster and hinder various outcomes surrounding participation. I hope to create a comprehensive coach education program that optimizes the social environment, and ensures that various sources of influence positively contribute to youth sport participation.”


It is this passion that has driven McLaren to continue his studies in Kinesiology at the UofS. When asked to comment on his future plans, McLaren stated,


“I hope to obtain a faculty position within a University, and have the ability to positively influence the public with my research, and students with my love for teaching.”


McLaren is a 2013 Dean's Scholarship recipient.

Mhamoud, Khaled


Hometown: Suez, Egypt

Current Residence: Montreal, QC

Occupation: NSERC Post Doc at the NRC Biotechnology Research Institute

Previous Education:

  • M. Sc. in Analytical Chemistry, Suez Canal University, Egypt (2003)
  • B. Sc. in Chemistry, Suez Canal University, Egypt (1996)

Thesis: Application of Ferrocene-Peptide Conjugates: Towards New Biosensors and Materials

Department: Chemistry

In his research, Khaled helped unravel the mystery of electrochemical detection of unlabelled non-redox active proteins; that is, he developed an electrochemical biosensor—using a bioorganometallic approach—that detects proteins such as Papain (from papaya fruit) and HIV-1 protease (an essential enzyme in the assembly and activity of the HIV virus). Moreover, his biosensor—made up of specific peptide sequences, containing iron, that bind and inhibit target proteins—offers an alternative to the expensive and (too) sophisticated sensing tools currently available.

If pharmaceutical companies adopt Khaled’s sensitive and reliable—but inexpensive—device to screen a variety of potential drug molecules for relative inhibition efficiency toward HIV-protease, they may be able to develop a drug that can suppress this enzyme and become a promising target for the therapy of AIDS in a much more capable and cost-effective way.

But HIV detection is just one application of the sensor: it could be used to detect gas, chemical warfare agents, and quality control in food processing.

Khaled’s research has been published in ten peer-reviewed chemistry journals.

Miller, Chloe-Anne


Hometown: Prince Albert, SK

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • B.A.(Hons.) U of S

Thesis: Murray Fulton

Department: Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy

Facilitated by the University of Saskatchewan, Universities of Canada (UCAN) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Johnson-Shoyama graduate student Chloe Miller is undertaking an fellowship with the UNDP Country Office in Vientiane Laos beginning in May 2013. Miller will be applying her background in public policy and political studies when working at the UNDP Country office in Laos. She will be advising on issues of international development and humanitarian efforts.

When asked to comment on how her experience at the UofS led to this experience, she replied,

“I continued developing an interest in policy throughout my undergrad and upon completing my undergrad at the U of S, I realized this was an interest I wanted to continue to pursue. My decision to pursue graduate work at the U of S was an easy decision to make since the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School has a reputation for excellence and a well-known internship program with the government of Saskatchewan. ”

Miller expressed her admiration for the support of students, faculty and staff, including her Graduate Supervisor, Professor Murray Fulton. As she states, “he has provided graduate students with the support needed to excel in policy studies at JSGS.”

Miller goes on to note that currently her graduate work centres on public policy analysis and particularly focuses on public sector finance and financial management. Miller, “found that learning the intricacies of policy development and analysis in both an academic setting and applied setting through [her] internship experience has been the most exciting aspect of [her] graduate work.”

Miller plans on returning to Saskatchewan following the completion of her UNDP internship and completing the requirements of her graduate degree. She would like learn from this unique experience and begin her career in the public service sector once the UCAN-UNDP internship is complete.

Nain, Sukhbir


Hometown: Jind, Haryana, India

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Occupation: Post Doc at the Toxicology Center, U of S

Previous Education:

  • M.V.Sc. in Animal Physiology, Indian Veterinary Research Institute, India (2004)
  • B.V. Sc. & A.H., CCS, Haryana Agriculture University , India (2002)

Thesis: Study on Dietary Factors Pertinent to the Pathogenesis of Heart Failure in Fast-growing Commercial Broilers

Department: Animal & Poultry Science

“As a Veterinarian, I saw heart-related mortality in broilers (young chickens) as one of the main reasons leading to significant economic losses for chicken farmers, and inevitably, that made me wonder—why?"

Since posing that question in 2005, Sukhbir has examined aspects of the broiler industry which is focused, primarily, on rapid and maximum weight gain through improved feed conversion efficiency. As a result, broiler strains show superior performance but are also predisposed to higher incidences of acute and chronic heart failure.

Consequently, Sukhbir investigated the dietary factors that have the ability to precipitate or increase the risk of heart failure in broilers. He found, among other things, that over-supplementation of vitamins A and D3 proves detrimental, while vitamin C appears to delay the onset of heart failure in broilers.

Sukhbir has presented at Poultry Science Association meetings in Edmonton and San Antonio, and has published his work in Avian Pathology, Comparative Biochemistry & Physiology Research in Veterinary science and British Journal of Poultry Science.

Nielsen, Elly-Jean


Hometown: Winnipeg MB

Current Residence: Saskatoon SK

Previous Education:

  • B.A. (Honours First Class), Psychology, University of Calgary

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Michel Desjardins

Department: Department of Psychology, Cultural and Human Development, U of S

Elly-Jean Nielsen is currently working on completing her PhD thesis on lesbian spoken word poets who have showcased their art in slam (competition) events. Her research methodology is qualitative in design, and she plans to conduct one-on-one interviews with various spoken word poets living in Saskatoon, as well as other spoken word hubs across Canada (including Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal).

Her research is also ethnographic in nature, as Nielsen plans on conducting participant observation at various poetry events. When asked how she became interested in this field, Nielsen responded,

“[My previous research at the University of Calgary] paved the way for my current research on lesbian slam poets. In my undergraduate research I explored the undiscovered area of coming out in the classroom for lesbian professors. I engaged in an in-depth, one-on-one exchange with 10 lesbian professors on the topic. Much like the professor as an orator occupying the front of the classroom, spoken word poets are situated front-and-center as an orator on stage. Thus, these subtle structural similarities between the classroom and the stage will lead me to build upon my research of those making public disclosures of sexual otherness.”

When asked why she considers spoken word poetry to be exciting, Nielsen replied that it is the fastest growing art form in Canada and therefore it is an interesting period in time to investigate dynamics in this emerging community. It is also the practical applications of her research that provides a strong sense of optimism for marginalized communities. As Nielsen states, “Regardless of a marginal poet’s minority status (e.g., ethnic, religious, “racial,” sexual, gender), mainstream society has much to learn from the poetic words of those who are oppressed.”

lly-Jean Nielsen plans on continuing her career in academia after she graduates, aspiring to become a professor and seasoned researcher. Nielsen also plans to be involved in the seventeenth annual Breaking the Silence conference that takes place in Saskatoon (funded by the U of S, College of Education). This event focuses on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity in education. Nielsen has been awarded into the 2013 Dean's Scholarship for outstanding research in the College of Graduate Studies and Research at the University of Saskatchewan.

Ohiozebau, Ehimai


Hometown: Edo State, Nigeria

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Animal and Environmental Biology, University of Benin, Nigeria
  • Master of Instrumental and Analytical Sciences, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland

Department: School of Environment and Sustainability

Date Posted: Jan 27, 2012

For four months of the year, PhD student Ehimai Ohiozebau spends his time catching and analyzing fish from five different locations on the Athabasca and Slave River systems. His research aims to shed light on whether oil sands processing contaminants pose a risk for the aquatic inhabitants of the rivers, as well as for the people who are consuming the fish.

“With the current unsustainable storage of oil sands produced water (OSPW) in tailing ponds, it is safe to assume that the OSPW will one day be released into the river systems,” says Ohiozebau. “I hope that my research will provide a baseline for future monitoring of the river systems.”

Ohiozebau’s research is focused on the bioavailability of certain contaminants caused by oil sands processing on select fish species. The contaminants are cancer-causing, mutagenic, and may cause birth-defects in infants. The goal is to quantify the levels of contaminants, and determine the risk that they pose on communities who live close to the rivers and regularly consume the fish.

Omidian, Kosar


Hometown: Tehran, Iran

Current Residence: Saskatoon SK

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Nutrition, University of Shahid Beheshti
  • Master of Nutrition, Ahvaz Jondishapour University of Medical Science

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Azita Haddadi

Department: College of Pharmacy and Nutrition

Kosar Omidian is a PhD graduate student in the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition.


Omidian's research area explores the positive effects of green tea on the glucose and oxidative stress biomarkers in diabetic rats. The practical application of Omidian's research is that one day in the near future medical doctors and nutritionists may be able to prescribe green tea or concentrated green tea supplements to diabetic patients in addition to traditional drug and diet therapy.


For Omidian, the transition from living in Iran to studying at the UofS has been a unique experience. It wasn't easy to leave home for me but since I am married and I am living with my husband here (he is also a student at the UofS), it makes conditions easier for me. I like Saskatoon, I've lived here about 8 months, and I've adjusted immediately to this beautiful city. I found good friends here who have helped make this adjustment easier.


After finishing her PhD program, Omidian aspires to find an academic job in a university or other research institution where she will be employed as a researcher, allowing her an outlet to apply her research to the practical world.


Kosar Omidian is a recipient of the 2013 Dean's Scholarship Program.

Orji, Rita


Hometown: Nigeria

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria
  • Master of Science in Informatics, Middle East Technical University, Turkey

Thesis: “The design of persuasive technological intervention for healthy lifestyle change.”

Department: Computer Science

Most of us associate long hours playing computer games with an increasing waistline, however, PhD student Rita Orji sees computer games and other interactive technologies as tools for leading healthier lives.

Combining her knowledge of human psychology with technology, Orji is developing computer applications which can be used to teach and motivate people to eat healthier, and exercise more frequently to obtain health goals.

“The most exciting part of my research is encouraging healthy habits by combining theories of human behavior with technology to improve the quality of life for the user,” Orji says.

A game Orji recently developed, called “Lunch Time,” is a prime example of how this type of technology works. “Lunch Time” is set in a virtual restaurant, where the user competes against friends to make healthy meal choices.

“My research is motivated by my passion for using technology to improve health through changing lifestyle-related health problems,” says Orji. In the future, she hopes that related technologies will help people lead healthier lives and reduce the amount of government spending on healthcare.

Recently, Orji was awarded the highly prestigious and competitive $150,000 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. Out of the 167 students awarded with this scholarship, Orji was ranked in the top five recipients.

Palomino, Manuel


Hometown: Lima, Perú

Previous Education:

  • Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, University of San Marcos, Lima, Perú
  • Master of Science, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada

Graduate Supervisor: Gregg Adams

Department: Veterinary Biomedical Sciences

Date Posted: Jun 04, 2012

Peruvian PhD student, Manuel Palomino, is helping conserve Canada’s wood bison which are currently being threatened by disease. Palomino and his graduate supervisor, Gregg Adams, aim to preserve the genetics of infected herds by developing a novel embryo transfer technology.

“Not only is this technology useful for wood bison conservation,” says Palomino, “but, I believe that the future applications of this work can be applied to many other endangered species.”

Adams and his team are attempting to transfer wood bison embryos into disease-free females as a means of overcoming the devastating effects of bacterial disease on the species. Since the bacterial disease can be transferred to livestock and humans, the federal government has ordered that all diseased wood bison herds be culled to prevent the spread.

Palomino’s work involves developing methods to increase the number of embryos produced during the breeding and non-breeding seasons, and to optimize the techniques used during embryo collection and artificial insemination. His first milestone came last year when two embryos were successfully used for artificial insemination, resulting in two healthy calves.

“Aside from being a first for Canadian researchers, it really shows that we can produce disease-free, healthy wood bison using this model,” says Adams.

Parker, David J.


Hometown: Humboldt, SK / Naicam, SK

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • B.Sc. Engineering, U of S

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Ian Fleming

Department: Department of Civil and Geological Engineering at the U of S

David J. Parker is currently a graduate student in the Department of Civil and Geological Engineering. While completing his undergraduate degree in the department, Parker shares a close relationship with his current supervisor Dr. Ian Fleming. When asked why he chose to return to the UofS Parker responded that his decision was motivated by a strong academic relationship with his supervisor as well as the array of interesting research opportunities the UofS has to offer.

Parker is currently conducting research on soil composition, where he models the ultimate settlement of degradable soils with several easily measurable soil parameters. When asked about some of the possible implications and applications his research has in the practical world, Parker noted:

“My research may help direct researchers’ focus to the most significant parameters responsible for the settlement of degradable soils. [This research aims to] provide a better understanding of settlement in landfills, particularly bioreactor landfills,” as well as to, “help assess appropriate applications for materials mined from landfills e.g. fine sand fraction may be appropriate to use as a construction fill”

David J. Parker currently holds a Dean's Scholarship as well as a Saskatchewan Innovation and Opportunity Scholarship.

Puchala, Chassidy


Hometown: Saskatoon, SK

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • B.A. in Psychology, University of Saskatchewan
  • M.Sc. in Community Health & Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan

Thesis: Not yet stated

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Patti McDougall

Department: Psychology

Chassidy Puchala is a 2010 recipient of the SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship that will fund the first 3 years of her PhD.

Puchala will study Emerging Adulthood (EA), a new developmental stage that occurs between adolescence and adulthood. “In the past,” Puchala explains, “becoming an adult was usually associated with very specific life events - finishing high school, obtaining a career, getting married and having children. Due to a combination of heightened economic competition and uncertain social conditions, the time in which individuals transition to adulthood begins much later than in previous eras.”

“Many social scientists examine emerging adulthood by lumping all 18- to 25-year-olds together, assuming that all individuals within this age range are experiencing emerging adulthood. I’m going to look at a broad cross-section of ethnicities, age groups, and education levels to understand their diverse experiences and unique needs” Puchala says.

Puchala explains that her own life experience has interested her in the study of EA. “For the past 7 years I have seen both my life and the lives of my friends constantly shifting and changing. This evolution can bring both happiness, but also can be quite devastating at times. I really want to help individuals persevere during this time so that the transition to adulthood is less difficult and more rewarding.”

Having completed her undergraduate degree at the U of S, Puchala says that her strong working relationship with the department and her supervisor, Dr. Patti McDougall, were major factors in deciding to continue on with her doctorate. The combination of research and clinical practice done at the U of S program is a model that she says fits her research perfectly.

Rafferty, Ellen


Hometown: Calgary AB

Current Residence: Saskatoon SK

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Health Sciences (in Health and Society, First Class Honours) University of Calgary
  • Master of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Marwa Farag

Department: School of Public Health

Ellen Rafferty is beginning her PhD in the School of Public Health at the University of Saskatchewan. Her dissertation will focus on the cost-effectiveness of vaccines, where she will conduct a cost-benefit analysis on a vaccine relevant to the Canadian context. She is currently in the process of identifying a particular vaccine that will be the most appropriate candidate for this research. When asked why she chose this topic, Rafferty responded, "This thesis topic arose from my particular area of interest is in the practical aspects of vaccine implementation, for example Canadian vaccine policy development and social acceptance."

According to Rafferty this appreciation developed from an appreciation for health economics and the formative role this field has in the broader discipline of public health sciences.

Ellen Rafferty is one of the recipients of the 2013 Dean's Scholarships as well as the Saskatchewan Innovation and Opportunity Scholarship.

Razumenko, Fedir


Hometown: USSR (Ukraine), Donetsk region, Kramatorsk

Current Residence: Saskatoon SK

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Philology and Translation Studies, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (Ukraine)
  • Master of Arts in Philology and Translation Studies, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (Ukraine)
  • Master of Arts in European Studies “Euroculture” (joint degree), University of Groningen (the Netherlands); University of Udine (Italy)

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Erika Dyck

Department: History Department

Fedir V. Razumenko examines the historical, ethical and legal foundations for medical experimentation on humans in his PhD research.


This research aims to study medical experimentation on humans over the 20th century, taking into consideration the evolving ethical statutory regulations that govern medical practice. The benefit of such an investigation is that it may yield results applicable to contemporary human experimentation, providing thought provoking moral guidance for future ethics in medicine.


“I have always relished the breadth of university education at large, which explains the interdisciplinarity of my thesis topic. My abiding interest in history, one of my favorite subjects since secondary school, and philosophy has blossomed into fascination with practical ethics.”

Razumenko’s personal experience has played a significant role in his current research. His understanding of moral principles has emerged not from academic literature, but from everyday life. Razumenko provided medical care for his grandmother who was confined to bed for 33 years, giving him first-hand experience in a multitude of ethical issues that eventually inspired Razumenko’s current research.

In addition, Razumenko’s mother voluntarily participated in clinical trials, which led to a great deal of discussions among his family members on the utility of medical experimentation.

Razumenko is a recipient of a Graduate Research Assistantship in the Department of History.

Robertson-Boersma, Danielle


Hometown: Saskatoon

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Arts in History, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada
  • Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada

Thesis: “What’s Your Cap?”: A Student-Driven Initiative to Promote a Culture of Moderation around Alcohol Consumption

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Colleen Anne Dell

Department: Sociology

Under the supervision of Dr. Colleen Dell in the Department of Sociology, master’s student Danielle Robertson-Boersma has taken a stand against binge and risky drinking amongst U of S students using an innovative approach.

While most universities have responded to fatalities and accidents caused by drinking through a reactive approach, Robertson-Boersma’s campaign takes a student-driven proactive approach.

Through focus groups, interviews, and street interception, Robertson-Boersma was able to collect data during the 2011-2012 school year. She used this data to design a sustainable, student-driven campaign which is helping to generate awareness and ultimately promote a culture of drinking moderation within the U of S student body.

“Using tools such as surveys, students are asked to reflect on their personal drinking habits and knowledge,” says Boersma. “This forces them to identify their own drinking limits, and also shows them what their peers [drinking limits] are.”

Robertson-Boersma believes that her campaign, which began this September, has great potential due to its adaptability and since it is based on a theoretical approach.

On October 3rd, Robertson-Boersma won the poster competition for the Social Science, Humanities, and Fine Arts category at the Celebrating Student Success in Graduate Studies and Research conference, hosted by the College of Graduate Studies and Research.

“The conference gave me the chance to start shaping my ideas and get feedback from those outside of my research,” says Robertson-Boersma. “To find out what other individuals think about your research [forces you] to step back and look at your work from angles that have never occurred to you before.”

Rosengren, Leigh


Hometown: Weyburn, SK

Current Residence: Midale, SK

Occupation: President of Rosengren Epidemiology Consulting

Previous Education:

  • D.V.M., Western College of Veterinary Medicine, U of S (2001)

Thesis: Antimicrobial Resistance of Salmonella, Escherichia coli and Campylobacter from Pigs On-Farm in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada

Department: Epidemiology

Leigh’s main goal, when it comes to veterinary medicine, is to “provide producers with scientific data which will enable them to produce safe food while making optimal production decisions."

That’s why, for her thesis, she chose to investigate an increasingly pressing public health concern: resistant antimicrobials in livestock. (People who eat improperly handled meat may acquire an antimicrobial resistant food-borne infection.) She did this by examining the amounts and types of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria from pigs in western Canada and explored potential causes for such resistance.

Her research assisted the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Surveillance, a division of the Public Health Agency of Canada, to establish On-Farm surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in pigs.

Leigh, who has worked as a swine and mixed animal veterinarian, now runs a company that provides epidemiological and statistical consulting to veterinarians, public health officials, researchers, and government agencies.

Sanz, Penelope


Hometown: Davao City, Philippines

Previous Education:

  • B.Sc.Biology, Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines
  • M.B.A., Ataneo de Davao University, Davao City, Philippines

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. David Natcher and Dr. Kalowatie Deonandan

Department: Interdisciplinary Studies

Growing up in Mindanao, a culturally and ethnically diverse island in the Philippines, PhD student Penelope Sanz became fascinated with how quality of life could improve for marginalized populations through access to justice and a human rights-based approach to development. Sanz is now investigating this phenomenon further through her graduate research at the U of S and her internship at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Bratislava, Slovakia.

At the UNDP Office in Slovakia, Sanz analyzed the trends, challenges and priorities of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), funded by the UNDP. The UPR is a review mechanism for the human rights situations in 193 UN Member States. The goal is to make recommendations to improve the human rights situation on the ground.

In addition to her experience with the UNDP, Sanz has worked as a journalist, researcher, trainer and project coordinator with the ultimate goal of helping marginalized populations. Working as a secretary for the Mindanawon Initiatives for Cultural Dialogue, she spent several years with an indigenous community in Western Mindanao with the initial purpose of charting their genealogy for land rights and claims. The project quickly took a turn when the tribe asked Sanz to document the human rights violations they had suffered.


“I was confronted with my role as participant observer blurring to become a “partisan” observer when the community asked me to document the human rights violations they experienced in the hands of a Canadian mining company,” says Sanz. “This report, which was published by Rights and Democracy of Montreal in 2007, was eventually used to file a complaint in the United Nations Committee on Racial Discrimination (UNCERD).”

While completing her PhD at the U of S through the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Sanz has fueled her passion for helping the indigenous peoples of Mindanao. Her research investigates whether mining and other extractive industry will bring sustainable development in Mindanao and the Southern Philippines. In particular, her study focuses on how transformative policies and large-scale structures and processes disrupt the indigenous communities in the affected region.

Saunders, David


Hometown: Saskatoon, SK

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • B.Sc (First Class with Honours) in Biochemistry, Mount Allison University (2011)

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. John P. Giesy

Department: PhD Candidate at the Toxicology Centre, U of S

David Saunders, a PhD Candidate in the Toxicology Centre at the University of Saskatchewan is currently pursuing research in persistent organic pollutants, where he works specifically with brominated flame retardants (NBFRs). As he states,

“These compounds are added to consumer products such as foam, plastics, and electronics to aid in the prevention of residential and industrial fires.  Unfortunately, these compounds have been discovered at great quantities in the environment and animals, which indicates that they are leaching out of their products.  We are specifically looking at the endocrine disrupting effects of these compounds.”

In 2012, Saunders was accepted to the NSERC CREATE program in human and ecological risk assessment.  The program, which is funded by NSERC, identified the future need for trained professionals in risk assessment, training assessors of ecological and human risk. It is this practical experience that prompted Saunders to pursue further academic study in toxicology:

“During my undergraduate degree I completed an exhaustive search for a scientific field that peaked my interests.  I searched several departments in numerous Canadian universities and found that the field of Toxicology had a nice mix of primary and applied research.” 

Saunders’ experience has taken him to China, where he participated in a research program as part of the ongoing collaboration between the University of Saskatchewan and Nanjing University in Jiangsu.

Saunders currently holds a Dean’s Scholarship.

Schachner, Joerg


Hometown: Graz, Austria

Current Residence: Vancouver, BC

Occupation: Post Doc at the University of British Columbia

Previous Education:

  • M. Sc. in Chemistry, Karl-Franzens University, Austria (2003)

Thesis: Synthesis, Characterization, Electrochemistry and Ring-Opening Polymerization of Metallacyclophanes bridged by heavier group 13 elements

Department: Chemistry

Joerg’s interest in inorganic polymers (which “show novel and promising properties like electric conductivity or magnetism”) and in inorganic synthesis prompted him to evaluate Metallacyclphanes: strained, organometallic compounds that can be used as monomers to yield a new class of inorganic polymers (polyferrocenes).

Joerg then synthesized, specifically, ferrocenophanes and ruthenocenophanes (bridged by Aluminum, Gallium and Indium) which showed interesting new electrochemical properties. The iron atoms, for example, can be “reversible oxidized,” which means that they can carry electrons and that the polymer is potentially conductive.

Joerg was one of 42 students—out of 2,000—who won a poster award for outstanding research at Pacifichem, an international chemistry conference, in Honolulu (2005); he was also the recipient of the prestigious Taube Medal from the Chemistry Department (U of S) in 2008. His work has also been published in eight journals, including Organometallics and the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Schurer, Janna


Hometown: Victoria, BC

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Biomedical Toxicology (Hons), University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada (2006)

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Emily Jenkins

Department: Veterinary Microbiology

Date Posted: Mar 29, 2012

As PhD student Janna Schurer is discovering, “man’s best friend” may also be responsible for the spread of highly infectious diseases, like the tapeworm, to humans. Schurer’s research focuses on the transmission of disease from animals to humans, called zoonoses, in western Canada’s northern communities.

“My thesis investigates whether domestic dogs could be used as sentinels for human exposure to parasitic zoonoses,” says Schurer. “The project involves parasite surveillance of companion animals, determining human exposure rates, identifying risk factors, and determining the barriers to veterinary service access.”

Schurer’s research, under the supervision of Emily Jenkins, includes visiting northern communities to obtain blood samples from humans and fecal samples from dogs. These samples are then used to determine prevalence rates of the tapeworm and other parasites in the population. So far, Schurer has found that between 19-51 percent of dogs in the community are infected with one or more zoonotic parasites, which puts the people in the community at a high risk for infection.

“Our work provides a baseline for future researchers to determine if infection or exposure frequencies are changing due to successful health interventions, emergence of new pathogens, or even climate change,” says Schurer.

Senger, Debora


Hometown: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Communication Studies, University of Calgary, Calgary (2006)
  • Diploma in Photojournalism, Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, Calgary (1996)

Department: Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy

U of S student and communications expert, Debora Senger, experienced legal empowerment of the poor at the grassroots level in Vietnam during a four-month internship with the UNDP in the summer term 2012. Facilitated by the partnership between the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Senger was selected as one of seven students to undertake UNDP internships.

Part of her work has involved helping the UNDP Office in Vietnam prepare for the Legal Empowerment Asia Partnership (LEAP) conference in August of 2012. In addition, she undertook extensive fieldwork, travelling to more than ten Vietnamese provinces to document the progress in developing trained facilitators in law schools, which are supported by UNDP Clinical Legal Education programmes.

Senger brings a long list of credentials and experience to UNDP Vietnam. She graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Communications Studies after attending the Alberta Institute of Technology to obtain her diploma in Photojournalism. She then used her credentials to work as a photojournalist, documenting various development projects that the Canadian International Development Agency was supporting in Guatemala.

More recently, Senger spent three years working at the International Student and Study Abroad Center advising students on various options exchange opportunities and coordinating the study abroad program. 

During her UNDP fieldwork, Senger continued to develop her communication and photojournalism skills. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration degree and after graduation Senger hopes to pursue a career with the United Nations building on the experiences she has gained through her participation in the UofS-UNDP program.

Sereda, Jeff


Hometown: Chatham, ON

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • B.Sc., University of Saskatchewan
  • M.Sc., University of Saskatchewan
  • Aquaculture Technician Diploma, Sir Sandford Fleming College

Thesis: Novel Pathways in the Phosphorus Cycle of Lakes

Graduate Supervisor: Jeff Hudson

Department: Biology

Outdoor enthusiasts and folks with family cottages at one of Saskatchewan’s many bodies of freshwater might take a moment to think about the quality of the water in their favourite lake. Jeff Sereda does. Jeff is presently completing the requirements of his doctoral program in Biology, and he is concerned with lake ecosystems, especially the role phosphorus plays in limiting the growth of algae and bacteria in freshwater. More precisely, Sereda studies the effects of ultraviolet radiation on phosphorus cycles in lakes, work that has not been undertaken until now.

PUltraviolet radiation has an impact on phosphorus cycling whether indirectly, by altering dissolved-nutrient availability, or directly through the effects on aquatic organisms and their ability to acquire, release, and regenerate phosphorus. Sereda explains, “My research has focused on the poorly understood pathways in the phosphorus cycles of lakes. A new understanding of how phosphorus is supplied to bacteria and algae, can help lake managers to better manage excessive bacterial and algal growth, which ultimately effects water quality for drinking and recreation.”

Sereda, who once managed a fish hatchery at a fish farm on Lake Diefenbaker, says that it was his work at the fishery that inspired him to pursue a university education in biology. He has worked straight through the completion of his BSc, and on to an MSc that segued into his current program of study for his PhD and brought him full-circle — he is starting a post-doc position with Howard Wheater (CERC) this spring, which will take him back to Lake Diefenbaker for further research.

Sereda, who is supervised by Jeff Hudson, says that his studies have been the perfect balance between lab and fieldwork, as well as between theoretical and applied research. “(Hudson) has always provided me with the freedom to learn, explore, and expand my research into new areas of interest,” Sereda says, “my long term goals are to pursue a career in academics. I have a real passion for both teaching and research.”

Shaw, Sean


Hometown: Hamilton, ON

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Occupation: Research Associate, Geological Sciences, U of S

Previous Education:

  • B. Sc. in Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph (2002)
  • M. Sc. in Geology, University of New Brunswick (2005)

Thesis: Geochemical and mineralogical impacts of sulfuric acid on clays between pH 5.0 and -3.0

Department: Geological Sciences

“Sulfur,” explains Sean, “is one of the major by-products of the refinement process. Currently, it’s stored in large above-ground blocks. But, if sulfur can’t be stored in an environmentally friendly way, then the long-term viability of the Oil Sands may be at stake."

Sean wanted to understand the geochemical and mineralogical mechanisms that govern the diffusive transport of concentrated sulfuric acid through clay liners, and to identify any impact that these mechanisms might have on the environment. In particular, he wanted to know the implications associated with storing these blocks underground where the lack of infiltrating precipitation could lead to a significant increase in sulfuric acid concentrations and negative pH values.

He discovered that the diffusion of highly acidic sulfuric acid through clay liners is controlled by the same mechanisms that have been documented in acid mine drainage settings. While the majority of mineral species undergo dissolution, a substantial amount of secondary mineral phase precipitation also occurs. Additionally, the carbonate content of the impacted clay will be the dominant control of acid transport in these systems.

“It’s clear that the diffusion of these acidic solutions through clay liners will occur over periods of years to decades. The good news, however, is that environmental impact may be mitigated if proper storage facilities are designed and implemented.

Squires, Vicki


Hometown: Saskatoon, SK

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Occupation: Vice Principal & Teacher

Previous Education:

  • B. Ed. University of Saskatchewan
  • M. Ed. University of Saskatchewan (2004)
  • Ph.D. University of Saskatchewan (2010)

Thesis: Analysis of a Policy Change at Two University Campuses: A Study of the Emergence of a Joint Interdisciplinary School

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. David Burgess

Department: Educational Administration

“Because of the noted similarity among educational institutions and their perceived inability to change”, Vicki Squires wanted to investigate the context and process that led to a significant change at an educational institution. In a case study of two universities, Squires examined the four stages of the policy process (cf. Levin, 2001) - origins, adoption, implementation and evaluation - involved in establishing a joint, interdisciplinary school.

The findings indicated the concept of policy windows, as suggested by Kingdon (2003), were evident in the policy origin stage. The policy stream, the political stream, and the problem stream came together, at a critical juncture to allow the initiative of a joint interdisciplinary policy school to move forward relatively easily. However, the implementation at both universities was messy and difficult as the proponents of the initiative encountered many tensions, including issues around resources, program development, and the proposal approval process.

Although the study did not allow for a full examination of the evaluation stage, there are several implications for broader applications of the research. These include the need for a thorough examination of situation-specific organizational practices that promote or inhibit innovation, the impact of the absence of the voice of resistors to change and the role of isomorphic processes (coercive, normative, and mimetic) in inhibiting change in organizations. Further exploration of the implementation stage of successful policy change was seen to have potential.

Surisetty, Venkateswara Rao


Hometown: Tenali, Andhra Pradesh, India

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Technology from: Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, India
  • Master of Technology from: Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, India

Thesis: Research and Development of Co and Rh-Promoted Alkali-Modified Molybdenum Catalysts for Higher Alcohols Synthesis From Synthesis Gas

Graduate Supervisor: Ajay Kumar Dalai

Department: Chemical Engineering

Venkateswara Rao Surisetty, recent PhD recipient from the Chemical Engineering department, is working to develop the most efficient way of converting wastes from the lumber and agricultural industries into green fuels like ethanol and what are called “higher alcohols.”

In what he believably describes as a rather complicated process, Dr. Surisetty’s dissertation project involved developing the best conditions under which these fuels might be created - a timely topic as nations search for alternatives to fossil fuels.

“It is important to develop environmentally friendly fuel technologies that produce fewer green house gases,” Surisetty asserts, “The effective use of Canada’s large available waste biomass will improve the nation’s ability to reduce toxic air emissions, decrease greenhouse gas build-up, and dependence on imported oil, while also supporting agriculture and rural economies.”

Surisetty received Bachelor and Master of Technology degrees in his native India, worked as an Environmental Engineer in a steel plant, and spent three and a half years as Assistant Professor at Nagarjuna University before deciding to pursue his dream of a PhD in chemical engineering.

Looking for a research-oriented University that might foster his interest in the area of energy and fuels, he was pleased when he was offered a place in graduate studies at the U of S. Still, moving to a new country and culture with his wife and child wasn’t easy, Surisetty said, but after a difficult first year adjusting to life in Saskatoon, he and his wife have found themselves enjoying the city.

Describing his achievement in the PhD program, “a dream” , Surisetty credits his mother, wife, colleagues, and supervisor, with his success. Still, he thinks especially of his father, who passed away when Surisetty was still in high school. “He believed in my success more than I did,” he says, “He would have loved to see me as an engineer.”

Funded by the Saskatchewan Research Council, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC), the Agriculture and Biomass Innovation Network (ABIN), and the University of Saskatchewan, Surisetty already has a long list of published articles to his credit, and a patent pending on the alcohol synthesis process developed with his supervisor, Prof. Ajay Kumar Dalai.

Funded by the Saskatchewan Research Council, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC), the Agriculture and Biomass Innovation Network (ABIN), and the University of Saskatchewan, Surisetty already has a long list of published articles to his credit, and a patent pending on the alcohol synthesis process developed with his supervisor, Prof. Ajay Kumar Dalai.

Now working as a Post-Doctoral Fellow with his former supervisor and Prof. Janusz Kozinski, Surisetty is looking forward to applying the knowledge and skills he has acquired at the U of S in either an academic or industry research setting.

Trost, Brett


Hometown: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Science in Bioinformatics, U of S, Saskatoon
  • Master of Science in Computer Science, U of S, Saskatoon

Thesis: Computational phosphorylation site prediction in plants

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Anthony Kusalik

Department: Computer Science

U of S Computer Science student Brett Trost is merging bioinformatics with biology to predict and understand cellular signaling-related diseases in plants.

Like the genetics, each species has its own unique phosphorylation profile. Variations in this phosphorylation profile can indicate a disruption in cell signaling, and potentially disease.

While numerous computational tools exists for mammals, there are few tools available for plants. Under the supervision of Anthony Kusalik, Trost has helped developed a new method called SAPHIRE (SAskatchewan PHosphorylation Internet REsource) to help predict phosphorylation sites in the soybean plant.

SAPHIRE has proven to be highly effective: It out-performs two existing computational tools and has been made publically available to predict phosphorylation sites in other plant species. His PhD work will ultimately improve disease prediction in plants that can be used in agriculture.

Trost’s work was recognized on October 3rd at the Celebrating Student Success in Graduate Studies and Research conference, hosted by the College of Graduate Studies and Research.

“In addition to presenting my poster, I had the opportunity to view a lot of other posters representing some really cool research,” says Trost. “I loved the fact that the event was interdisciplinary, as it gave science students the opportunity to learn about research in the social sciences and humanities (and vice versa).”

Trost won the graduate poster competition for the Natural Sciences and Engineering category in October 2012.

Umeshappa, Channakeshava Sokke


Hometown: Sokke, India

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Occupation: Graduate Student (PhD)

Previous Education:

  • BVSc (DVM): Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University
  • MVSc: Indian Veterinary Research Institute

Thesis: The Critical Role of CD4+Th1 Cells in CD8+CTL Responses and Anti-tumor Immunity

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Jim Xiang

Department: Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Umeshappa, awarded the Vanier Scholarship in 2010, never imagined his desire to become a Veterinarian would lead to one of the most prestigious research scholarships on the other side of the planet.

Back in his native India, Umeshappa was studying veterinary medicine when he came across the history of smallpox and recognized the power of vaccination to change the world.

“The eradication of smallpox changed my way of thinking and my career completely,” says Umeshappa. He decided to commit himself to the study of disease and immunity.

Umeshappa recently awarded $100,000 over two years by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research as a Vanier scholar, will study molecules in certain types of white blood cells which he hopes will provide the key to understanding how immunity works.

“This work is answering fundamental questions, and will be directly applied by immunologists developing new, more efficient vaccines,” says his supervisor Jim Xiang, UofS oncology professor and cancer research scientist.

When patients get an infection like smallpox for the first time, their bodies retain the memory of the germ in their white blood cells. This protects the patient lifelong from becoming infected again. In the case of influenza, immune memory lasts only a few months. Scientists know that a certain kinds of white blood cells work together to trigger an immune response and program an immune memory, but they do not understand exactly how and why. Umeshappa’s goal is to unravel these mysteries.

These cells are critical to our defences against cancers and viral diseases, so understanding their interaction could provide the key to understanding autoimmunity disorders, aiding tissue transplantation, and developing immunity to cancers and chronic infections such as AIDS.

Vakil, Mohammad


Hometown: Tehran, Iran

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Occupation: Post-doctoral fellow

Previous Education:

  • M. Sc. in Mechanical Engineering, Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran (2003)
  • B. Sc. in Mechanical Engineering, Sharif University of Technology, Iran (2001)

Thesis: Dynamics and Control of Flexible Manipulators

Department: Mechanical Engineering

Rigid link manipulators, which are heavy and energy inefficient, are currently used in many industries, such as the automotive industry, but hopefully not for long. In his research, Mohammad aimed to model and control flexible link manipulators, which are lighter, more energy efficient, and easier to move. In the process, he found a new way to obtain the “dynamic model” and developed a new controller.

The ASME Journal of Vibration and Acoustics published part of Mohammad’s work in July 2008.

Wang, Kai


Hometown: Xinxiang, Henan Province, China

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • Bachelor of Agriculture from Northwest A & F University, China
  • Master of Science from Northwest A & F University, China

Thesis: The Applicability of Optical and Radar Remotely Sensed Data for Large-Area Wildlife Habitat Mapping

Graduate Supervisor: Steven Franklin and Xulin Guo

Department: Geography and Planning

Finding solutions to environmental challenges facing the notoriously solitary grizzly bear is the focus of Kai Wang’s research. This PhD student in Geography and Planning is investigating how sensing technology might help scientists gain more knowledge of the habits of the grizzly bear.

Remote sensing is the non-contact recording of information from the ultraviolet, visible, infrared, and microwave regions of the electromagnetic spectrum by means of instruments such as cameras and scanners located on platforms such as aircraft or spacecraft. “It looks like what people see in the Google Earth remote sensing view. Remote sensing produces an image with lots of digital information, which can be converted to real-world information.

In this case, the real world information is the mapping and monitoring of wildlife habitat to determine wildlife distribution and population dynamics. This could have a variety of applications, including natural resource management, environmental conservation, ecosystem restoration, species-at-risk recovery and species inventory.

For his part, Wang is interested in finding a way to use remotely gathered data to track and analyze grizzly bear populations in Canada. “I’d love to predict grizzly bear presence, absence or abundance,” he says, “It’s impossible to observe grizzly bears directly from remote sensing imagery, but it’s possible to map their food, such as all kinds of berries.” In Wang’s model, information gathered through remote sensing helps him create a model of a given area, and predict where grizzly bears might live based on where the bears’ favorite foods grow.

Wang, who is co-supervised by Steven Franklin and Xulin Guo, says that the most exciting aspect of his work is the ability “to observe the earth’s environmental systems at scales from local to global, and from days to decades.”

“The U of S is an amazing university,” Wang says, “[It has] magnificent buildings, nice students and faculty, low tuition fees, an inspiring research atmosphere, freedom and respect. I’ve been here for more than 2 years, and I’ve grow up a lot in these 2 years.”

Wiens, Travis


Hometown: Kipling, SK

Current Residence: Auckland, New Zealand

Occupation: Researcher

Previous Education:

  • M. Sc. in Mechanical Engineering, U of S (2004)
  • B. Sc. in Mechanical Engineering, U of S (2002)

Thesis: Online Learning of a Neural Fuel Control System for Gaseous Fueled SI Engines

Department: Mechanical Engineering

“It’s been shown that gaseous fuels like hydrogen and natural gas are better than liquid fuel both environmentally and economically,” says Travis. “But, the cost to convert a vehicle from gasoline is prohibitive, mainly because of the cost to develop the fuel controller, which generally requires a significant calibration period needing skilled labour and expensive equipment.”

Travis’s research goal, then, was to reduce this conversion cost. He developed a controller which eliminates the calibration step and, instead, uses a method of learning, inspired by the human brain’s function, to adapt itself to the characteristics of the engine and fuel.

“My engine control scheme is drastically easier to apply to a new engine. Plus, it performed better in exhaust emission tests than the factory controller,” adds Travis.

Travis was honoured with the Excellence in Oral Presentation Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers at the 2007 SAE World Congress, and his research has been published in the International Journal of Intelligent Technology and International Journal of Fluid Power.

Willems, Jamie


Hometown: Saskatoon SK / Waldheim SK

Current Residence: Saskatoon SK

Previous Education:

  • B.Sc. in Food Science / Chemistry (Minor), U of S

Graduate Supervisor: Dr. Nicolas Low

Department: Department of Food and Bioproduct Science

Jamie Willems is currently a graduate student in the Food and Bioproduct Department at the University of Saskatchewan.

Her research area is in the area of food authenticity and traceability. Willems examines ways of developing analytical methods to detect the adulteration of apple and pear juice using chromatographic techniques. She will also be looking at developing an internal food tracing system using specific oligosaccharides as molecular tags to allow a food product or ingredient to be traced from 'farm to fork.' This method will assist in detecting and prevent fraud in food production.

According to Willems, the area of food authenticity and traceability is an interesting area as it has many practical applications. As well, there are many different approaches one can take to address the same problem. Working on this topic offers Willems the opportunity to learn and use many different analytical techniques that will not only be interesting, but will also provide her with a strong background for any future research she may conduct.

If successful, this research will lead to the development of methods to reduce food adulteration and increase the safety of our food supply. This research should allow others to continue to develop methods to further detect and prevent food fraud. Willems’ research program is currently being supervised under the direction of Dr. Nicolas Low.

"Working for him has been very good, he has given me many opportunities and has taken a genuine interest in my progress as a student and researcher" said Willems.

Jamie Willems is receiving an Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship through NSERC and was awarded a 2013 Dean's Scholarship. She is the past recipient of two National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Awards.

Willing, Ben


Hometown: Vancouver, BC

Current Residence: Uppsala, Sweden

Occupation: Post Doc at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Microbiology

Previous Education:

  • B. Sc. in Agriculture, University of British Columbia (2000)

Thesis: Microbial contributions to gut development in the neonatal pig

Department: Animal Science

The bacteria that reside in our intestines play a significant role in our health, to our benefit and to our detriment. In his research, Ben aimed to find which and how bacteria contribute positively to our physiology by introducing different types of bacteria to germ free pigs. He found that two common members of the intestinal microbiota, Escherichia coli and Lactobacillus fermentum, induce dramatically different host responses. Escherichia coli stimulated an inflammatory response, incurring a substantial metabolic cost on the host by increasing cell turnover, while Lactobacillus fermentum was relatively benign and induced very little change in host physiology.

This kind of information will allow for the development of an “optimal” microbiota that will promote health in both animals and humans.

Ben is currently studying the intestinal microbiota of Crohn’s disease patients in hopes of identifying which bacteria contribute to the disease.

Wilson, Kathleen


Hometown: St. Albert, AB

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Occupation: Postdoctoral Fellowship

Previous Education:

  • M. Sc. in Kinesiology, U of S (2004)
  • B. Kin., University of Calgary, (2002)

Thesis: Physical Activity Lapses and Parental Social Control

Department: Kinesiology

“With increasing interest in promoting physical activity for children and youth, I examined the role of parents in helping their child recover from a drop or lapse in activity,” says Kathleen. “Specifically, I focused on parents’ attempts to regulate their child’s behaviour to help get their child back to being active following this lapse.”

Kathleen’s studies revealed that parents—especially physically active ones—attempted to get their child back to being active through a variety of types of social control including positive (e.g., encouraging), collaborative (e.g. offering to be active with the child) and negative (e.g. nagging) forms. Additionally, after examining youth’s responses to their parents’ attempts, her studies showed that collaborative social control efforts lead to more successful results.

Kathleen was inspired to research this area after coming across social control literature in her Master’s studies, wherein she examined social influences in older adults. “Parents continually try to regulate the behaviours of children. If a father wants a child to clean his or her room, for example, he might encourage, promise a reward, or nag the child. I thought that the same concept might apply to lapses in a child’s physical activity. And it turns out, it appears to."

Wood, Karen


Hometown: Fredericton, NB

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Previous Education:

  • M. Ed, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON (2000)
  • B.S.W., University of Calgary, Calgary, AB (1984)

Thesis: Women’s Narratives of Healing from the Effects of Child Sexual Abuse

Department: Community Health and Epidemiology

Throughout her career as a social worker and educator in areas such as crisis intervention, addictions, and violence, Karen found that the issue of child sexual abuse needed to be addressed.

So, here’s what Karen did, in short: she gathered stories of healing from women who were sexually abused in childhood, analyzed them, and learned about their healing.

Her findings indicate the importance of the body to the healing process, of considering the body in the social and political context, and of “naming” the experiences as child sexual abuse. “Naming” is the process of signifying experiences of abuse and includes distinct aspects of memory and remembering.

“The most important finding for women healing from child sexual abuse, though,” says Karen, “is the need for publicity regarding child sexual abuse. The process of making the issues around child sexual abuse more public is also necessary for the prevention and intervention of such abuse.”

Zhang, Xueshu


Hometown: Langzhong, China

Current Residence: Saskatoon, SK

Occupation: Post-Doctoral Fellow

Previous Education:

  • Master of Medicine in Microbiology & Immunology, Tongji Medical University, China (1989)
  • Bachelor of Medicine in Western Medicine, Luzhou Medical College, China (1985)

Thesis: Tolerogenic CD4-8- Dendritic Cells and their Conversion into Immunogenic Ones via TLR 9 Signaling

Department: Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Xueshu explains that “cancer immunotherapy based on the dendritic cell (DC) vaccine has been carried out for more than ten years. Early trials used immature DCs, while later trials have used over-matured or differentially-matured ones—either way, all the vaccines could induce regulatory T cell (Tr) response that is very harmful to the already immune-comprised cancer patients.”

Xueshu’s aim was to find what kind of DC and/or subset(s) are inducing Tr and to then make those DCs become mature enough and functionally homogeneous with some reagents to induce a Th1 response.

He found that short-time treatment with CpG could convert tolerogenic CD4-8-DCs into immunogenic ones and induce strong antitumor immunity, and that anti-CD40 antibody could differentially control the DC maturation induced by the TLR ligands. Overall, his research provides direct evidence that DC should be made homogeneously immunogenic in order to induce antitumor immunity. This finding will hopefully improve the design of future cancer vaccine in clinical trials.

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