Three UVic Students among 2018 Vanier scholars

Social Sciences, Graduate Studies, Medical Sciences

Three UVic researchers have received 2018 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships—one of the federal government’s most prestigious scholarships for doctorial students and post-doctoral researchers. The scholarships are awarded on the basis of students' extraordinary combination of academic excellence, research potential and leadership.

Kari Duerksen's (psychology) doctoral research is focused on how technology plays a role in dating violence and the impact of such behavior on the victim. Stalking one’s partner through technology, sending threatening or harassing messages, or sharing private information about one’s partner online are some of the areas Dueksen will examine as she looks for specific patterns that may lead to an increase in violence. She’s also assisting with an evaluation about the role of police officers in Assertive Community Treatment—a program that works with people who have severe mental health problems. “The Vanier Scholarship allows me to follow my research passion and create knowledge that will contribute to a more compassionate and connected society,” says Duerksen.

Elaine Laberge (sociology) has focused her research on how generational poverty and childhood poverty shape Indigenous and non-Indigenous undergraduates’ experiences in university. Laberge plans to use her award to investigate how civic engagement may shape equity, diversity and inclusion policies and practices in Canadian universities. In particular, she wants to know how social activism can contribute to retention, access and participation in university for students who are living in poverty or who grew up in poverty, with a goal of advancing socioeconomic diversity in Canadian institutions. “The Vanier Scholarship is a form of ‘belief in’ which is a game changer for me,” says Laberge, “that is why I am so dedicated to trying to make a difference.”

Eslam Mehina (biology) researches the degeneration of the brain’s neural components and blood vessels as part of the aging process. Microglia, the immune cells of the brain, normally maintain and repair these elements—but their repair operations can be disrupted by inflammatory molecules, including Interferon gamma. Mehina is studying whether elevated Interferon gamma in the brains of older subjects impairs the repair functions of microglia—contributing to compromised neural and vascular conditions in the brain associated with aging.

The Government of Canada launched the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships in 2008 to strengthen Canada's ability to attract and retain world-class doctoral students and establish Canada as a global centre of excellence in research and higher learning. The three-year scholarships of $50,000 per year are nonrenewable, and equally distributed between the federal government’s three core granting agencies—CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC.


In this story

Keywords: award, scholarship, brain, technology, student life, graduate research

People: Kari Duerksen, Elaine Laberge, Eslam Mahina

Publication: The Ring

Related stories