September 23, 2013


Eleven grad students named prestigious Vanier Scholars, 3 others named Banting fellows


Hamilton, Ont. September 23, 2013Eleven McMaster students – studying everything from the protection of buildings from earthquakes to the role of social networks in the Egyptian revolution - are among this year’s prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship winners.


The group – the largest number of Vanier Scholars in McMaster’s history – includes scholars from 10 departments across five faculties.


“Research at McMaster crosses so many boundaries, which is what make it such an exciting place to be a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow,” says Allison Sekuler, associate vice-president and Dean of Graduate Studies. “I couldn’t be happier for these recipients. It’s great to see them recognized for their outstanding research and leadership.”


Deena Abul Fottouh is a PhD candidate who will benefit from the Scholarship, worth $50,000 for up to three years.


Abul Fottouh studies the role social networking played in the run-up to the 2011 Egyptian uprising.


The award came as a complete shock to the PhD candidate, who says she’ll use the scholarship to help cover travel to and from Egypt.


“But it’s not just about the research,” she says. “It will also help immensely when I enter the job market. I’ll be able to say ‘I’m a Vanier Scholar!’”


Before arriving at McMaster, Abul Fottouh worked as a teacher, a news editor for Saudi TV and with the United Nations on a research project on the status of knowledge in the Arab world.


That work saw her visit a shantytown daily for three-and-a-half months, where she studied the population’s perceptions of the country’s leaders.

The experience, and the contacts she made there, were the inspiration for her work studying Egypt’s first social networks.


Vanier Scholars receive $50,000 annually for up to three years. The awards were created by the federal government in 2009 to help the country attract and retain the most promising doctoral students. McMaster’s other Scholars are:


Danielle Wong: Asian North American identities in social media. 


Elizabeth Alvarez: Creating and testing a health systems workbook to help countries implement global health guidance. 


Lauren Wallace: An investigation of the factors affecting contraceptive use and participant satisfaction with community-based family planning programs in northern Ghana. 


Amanda Lee: Characterizing the early immune response against genital herpes infection. 


Lori Chambers: Exploring the meaning of work for HIV-positive black women in Ontario. 


Scott Campbell: Engineered devices for remote-controlled drug release using “smart” membrane materials. 


Farnaz Heidar Zadeh: A computational approach for designing molecules with desirable properies without trial and error. 


Niel Van Engelen: A novel base isolation system for economical earthquake protection of structures. 


Mary Sourial: The role defective genes play in the abnormal functioning of neural precursor cells. 


Tina Wilson: Exploring the impacts of socio-economic shifts on homeless youth in Canada. 


Three McMaster students were also named Banting Postdoctoral Fellows Monday. The Fellows receive $70,000 per year for two years. 


The Fellows are:


Ayelet Lahat: Examining the role of reward and punishment in brain development of shy and sociable individuals. 


Ritu Mathur: Studying the links between arms control efforts and conceptions of civilized and uncivilized cultures. 


Nancy Worth: Understanding how young women assign meaning to and negotiate adulthood. 




For more information, please contact:


Michelle Donovan
Public Relations Manager
McMaster University
905-525-9140 ext. 22869



Andrew Baulcomb
Public Relations Coordinator
McMaster University
905-525-9140 ext. 23585