Sept. 12, 2018

Four Arts grad students awarded prestigious Vanier scholarships for 2018

PhD students receive national award for their innovative research and extraordinary leadership

Nine University of Calgary graduate students have been awarded the prestigious Vanier CGS for 2018, including four from the Faculty of Arts. The recipients will be invited to join the Graduate Leaders Circle, a group that supports student leaders who give back to their community.

“Receiving a Vanier is a significant achievement,” says Dr. Lisa Young, vice-provost and dean of graduate studies. “It supports highly skilled and innovative students who do not hesitate to take on forms of extraordinary leadership, not just in their research, but in their communities. These students represent our next generation of academic, business and community leaders in Canada.”

The Faculty of Arts 2018 Vanier Canada Scholars include:

Emilie Lacroix, Psychology
Supervisor: Dr. Kristin von Ranson, PhD

Among girls and women, body image is a critical area of well-being. The benefits of positive body image include better relationships, higher rates of physical activity, and healthier eating. Conversely, negative body image is a risk factor for many adverse health outcomes including eating disorders, the only mental disorders associated with increased youth mortality. Unfortunately, negative body image and preoccupation with society’s unrealistically thin ideal are the norm. Most programs designed to promote positive body image among girls appear to be missing the mark, with followup studies showing little to no lasting benefits. Lacroix aims to identify common trajectories of body image development from preadolescence to young adulthood, and to examine personality traits which may predict this development. Lacroix hopes her research can inform the design of body image programs that are more individualized and more effective.

Julia Poole, Clinical Psychology
Supervisor: Dr. Keith Dobson, PhD

Millions of Canadians report a history of adverse childhood experiences. These experiences are a widely established risk factor for poor mental health outcomes among adults, such as anxiety and depression. Poole is working to identify modifiable characteristics, such as psychological resilience and emotion regulation, that may buffer the impact of childhood adversity on adult mental health problems. Ultimately, Poole hopes that her research will inform the development of prevention and treatment initiatives that improve mental health outcomes among adults with a history of childhood adversity.

Mallik Sezan Mahmud, Geography
Supervisor: Dr. John Yackel, PhD

The Arctic has recently entered a new sea ice regime with rapid loss of sea ice extent, thickness and extended melting. Although satellite-based technology has been operationally used for Arctic sea ice monitoring, existing earth observation (EO) satellites has limitations in providing accurate information about ice types, thus imposing potential risk for safe maritime operations. Mahmud’s research investigates and validates the utility of recently launched next-generation EO satellites (operates at lower frequency, e.g., L-band) for improved Arctic sea monitoring. His ongoing research aims to support the development of novel sea ice products for improved Arctic sea ice monitoring and safer maritime operations in the Arctic. At the same time, this research will ensure Canada’s environmental stewardship by providing reliable and improved Arctic sea ice information.

Shasta Webb, Anthropology
Supervisor: Dr. Amanda D. Melin, PhD

Webb’s research aims to improve our understanding of wild animals that live in endangered ecosystems and are subject to potential threats from global climate change. Mammals are hypothesized to use multiple strategies to address increased energy costs during pregnancy and lactation, including behavioural changes, and possibly, changes in gut microbial communities. The gut microbiome is an important aspect to understanding wild animal health and reproductive fitness but very little is known about it. Webb uses a holistic survey of wild primate behaviour, dietary composition, gut microbial communities, and life history knowledge to understand the effects of gut microbes on pregnancy and lactation.