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Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship recipient: Samson Abioye

Vanier Scholar Samson Abioye

While water is often considered a gift of nature and a human right, its sustainability is threatened by pollution, industrialization, population growth and climate change. Although lack of access to safe drinking water is largely pronounced in developing nations, prevalent drinking water advisories in Canadian Indigenous communities show that developed countries are also susceptible to water challenges.

To address the growing problem of water contamination, Vanier Scholar Samson Abioye is exploring the use of nanomaterials to develop an innovative, cost-effective water treatment device.

What inspires your research?

My research is inspired by the need to remove emerging contaminants from water, such as microplastics, PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and endocrine-disrupting compounds, e.g., pharmaceuticals, pesticides, PFAS, toxins, hormones, etc. These micropollutants and many others have carcinogenic, mutagenic and teratogenic effects. Unfortunately, emerging contaminants have not received much-needed attention, particularly from governments and policymakers all over the world. Emerging contaminants are rarely defined as part of water quality parameters, perhaps due to the relative cost of their removal. 

My research, however, aims to develop competitive cost-effective adsorbents capable of removing a wide range of these emerging contaminants, with improved cost and environmental performance over activated carbon. Also, by developing cost-effective nano-enabled membranes for seawater/brackish water desalination, my advanced multifunctional treatment device would be modified to provide solutions for regions experiencing physical freshwater scarcity.

“I have no doubts regarding the quality of training received so far at Ryerson. I am quite confident that Ryerson is helping me to become a great researcher.”

Samson Abioye, Vanier Scholar

What advice do you have for Vanier Scholarship applicants?

Go for it; do not be discouraged! Applicants should dedicate quality time to their applications and seek relevant assistance when needed.

I strongly advise graduate students to apply for eligible scholarships. Success cannot be achieved by doing nothing. Moreover, the applications are free; you only invest your time! Submitting a convincing and well-thought-out application requires a lot of resources: research, time and networking. Sending your application package for reviews by your supervisors, friends and colleagues before final submission would help in dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.

Moreover, the search for academic referees to provide convincing references to support the application should be done carefully. Although research supervisors (PIs) come in handy here, the second referee, as much as the first referee, should be able to provide a comprehensive recommendation attesting to the exceptional academic, research and leadership skills of the applicant.

In terms of the “research contribution statement” part of the application, having few or no journal publications yet should not be a deterrent. You could focus on manuscripts under review for scientific publications, highlighting the extent of work done and their potential contributions to the body of knowledge. Impactful technical projects and reports could also come in handy here.

It would be appropriate if a common theme resonates throughout your application package. For instance, your research proposal connects with your notable leadership experience. This would show how passionate you are about your research topic – it would show that your research is passion-driven. 

How is your Ryerson graduate education preparing you to be career-ready?

I have no doubts or regrets regarding the quality of training received so far at Ryerson. Though my journey is still far from over, I am quite confident that Ryerson is helping me to become a great researcher.

What advice do you have for graduate students?

Graduate students should always give their best in preparation for the future. Opportunity favours the prepared mind.

Samson Abioye
Chemical Engineering PhD student and 2021 NSERC Vanier CGS recipient