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Faculty of Science

Meet the FOS Graduate Scholarship Winners  

Come fall 2020, seven graduate students in the Faculty of Science will start the academic year off on desirable footing. In recognition of their outstanding academic achievement, five master’s and two PhD students received Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS M) and NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships (PGS D) respectively. Meet our seven winners as they preview their research, career goals and Ryerson’s role in their journey.

 

Janusan Baskararajah
NSERC CGS M, Computer Science

Janusan Baskararajah

Janusan Baskararajah completed his bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences at Ryerson, and then pivoted into the master’s program in computer science. Musing on the change in direction, he states: “Quite simply, Ryerson is the reason why I found my calling and discovered my passions. Being here meant I didn’t close any doors and was free to be curious and try new things.”

What’s your new academic direction?
I had completed an undergraduate minor in computer science and economics. This time, I’m working under Dr. Andriy Miranskyy on machine learning and data science, with special interest in natural language processing and its use in software engineering. I’m also now the President of the Computer Science Graduate Student Council. I want other students to feel the sense of community that I was blessed to get to know, so I’m working with a great team to bring that to my fellow classmates and colleagues.

Feelings about your scholarship win?
It’s almost unexplainable to say I have won this award! There’s this sense of relief that I don’t have to think as hard about funding for school, and I am awfully grateful for that. I’m grateful for all that Ryerson has provided me and I constantly sing this school's praises wherever I go.

You’re brimming with ideas. What’s in your future?
I’m mulling over a PhD, but also want to work in industry to apply what I’ve learned. Meanwhile, I’m constantly writing down ideas of enterprises that I want to set up and ideas that I want to one day see to fruition. One day, I’ll leave my mark and I plan to use this award as a stepping stone to the future.
 

 

Fahimeh Saei Manesh
NSERC CGS M, Mathematics

Fahimeh Saei Manesh

Fahimeh Saei Manesh is working through her master’s degree in Applied Mathematics under the supervision of Dr. Alexey Rubtsov of the Financial Mathematics Research Group. She’s very passionate about the use of artificial intelligence in the financial services industry— likely a key reason for her winning this scholarship.

How did Ryerson contribute to your success?
I'm glad that I do my research at Ryerson University, where I get a lot of encouragement to do more than expected. Believe it or not, I was offered to work on an industry project right after I joined the program. It's amazing that academic research at Ryerson is so close to real-world applications–Here, it feels like the sky's the limit! I also want to acknowledge that my supervisor is so supportive and played a critical role in my successful application for the scholarship.

Reaction to your scholarship win?
Winning this award is so inspiring for me. I feel happy, proud, and delighted at the same time. It gave me validation and a sense of recognition, and most importantly, boosts my confidence in the path I have chosen for my career. I'm happy to accept the responsibility that comes with the more advanced research that I'm about to start.

What are your research and career plans?

My research interests are in applications of artificial intelligence in finance. I believe that it could substantially improve financial services and make the Canadian financial system even more stable. After graduation, my career plan is to work as a financial quant.

 

 

Niloufar Rostam Shirazi
NSERC CGS M, Biomedical Physics

Niloufar Rostam Shirazi

When Niloufar Rostam Shirazi first began her studies as a newcomer in Canada, she had to stretch far out of her comfort zone. Four years later, she graduated with a 4.22 GPA and the university’s highest honour, a Ryerson Gold Medal. She’s now working through her master’s degree in biomedical physics.

You’ve had an amazing ascent. What was Ryerson’s role?
Ryerson and the especially supportive Physics department faculty, particularly Dr. Pedro Goldman and my supervisor, Dr. Michael Kolios, inspired me to love science and think critically, outside of the box. We have a private room called the “thesis room”, where fourth year students could work and study together and learn from each other. It’s a very collaborative environment.

You studied nano- and microbubbles. Will you continue that in your master’s?
Yes. I’ll continue to characterize microbubbles and nanobubbles as ultrasound contrast agents. My goal is to optimize their use in clinical and biomedical applications by looking at their non-linear dynamics in response to higher ultrasound pressures.

Sentiments and future plans?
Winning this award makes me extremely happy and excited. Being awarded this scholarship has given me extra motivation, especially due to the large number of applicants, with fewer women in the applicant pool. Knowing that I’m part of that small group and being selected for a prestigious scholarship makes me want to go further and continue to achieve more. I hope that one day my story will be encouraging and motivational for young women in science. After, I’d like to try my chances for medical school, but I’m also considering a PhD to further my knowledge and experience in preclinical studies.

 

 

Laura Orofiamma
CIHR CGS M, Molecular Science

Laura Orofiamma

Laura Orofiamma already showed early research potential during her undergraduate years in biomedical sciences. She picked up two NSERC USRA awards working with Dr. Costin Antonescu, and enjoyed the field so much that she stayed on to work in his lab at the master’s level.

What do you research?
My interests focus on how a cell's metabolism can impact a variety of cellular functions, specifically cell migration, and how this can become dysregulated in cancer. This has many impacts on potential therapeutics, specifically targeting proteins involved in limiting the spread of cancer. I’m planning to take exciting new directions in this project by expanding it to "organoid" models — mini organs grown in a dish, which can help scientists learn about realistic 3D micro-anatomy.

What made you decide to stay on for your master’s?
The support at Ryerson has played a significant role in my success. The professors fostered my curiosity for research, and my peers are an immense source of encouragement.

What’s in your future?
Still open ended, but I plan to pursue a PhD. Beyond this, I’m interested in careers that combine my passions of scientific communication, teaching and cancer research.  

 

 

Melissa D'Amaral
NSERC CGS M, Molecular Science

Melissa D'Amaral

With her CSG scholarship win, Melissa D’Amaral wants to extend the path she began as a chemistry undergraduate at Ryerson. During her time, she was a recipient of NSERC USRA and Ryerson Undergraduate Research Opportunity awards and prize winner in the Southern Ontario Undergraduate Student Chemistry Conference. She’s now continuing her path to a master’s degree in molecular science.

What are your research plans?
I completed my undergraduate thesis under Dr. Marc Adler. My interests include synthetic and organic chemistry and new methods for transformations in organic chemistry. During my master’s, I’ll be exploring catalytic methods for amide bond formation using organosilanes.

How has Ryerson contributed to your path?
I have grown immensely during my time here. The unconditional support from my supervisor, professors, classmates and family allowed me to strive for academic excellence and to apply for graduate school. The Ryerson community has given me such a meaningful science experience. I cannot wait for what the next two years in the molecular science program will bring me.

Sentiments about the scholarship?

I am extremely honoured to be winning this award. Not only is it a great financial support, but I’m honoured to be recognized for accomplishments that I achieved during my undergraduate career.

 

 

Dexter Barrows
PGS D, Mathematics

Dexter Barrows

Dexter Barrows’s path in mathematics has come full circle. After completing his undergraduate degree at Ryerson, he earned a master’s degree at McMaster University, and wrote software for medical devices. Now he is back at Ryerson working towards his PhD.

What made you return to Ryerson?

As a Ryerson alumnus, I can say that the institutional support and quality of education I received here was excellent. The environment pushed me to do my best work, and continues to do so. I currently work with Dr. Silvana Ilie and Dr. Katrin Rohlf on modelling inhomogeneous, stochastic biochemical networks.

Reaction to your win?
It’s fantastic and very encouraging to win an award of this magnitude! I feel very grateful that the Canadian government regards my research as worthy of funding.

Future career plans?
I’m interested in applied mathematical research, industrial R&D, data science, and teaching.

 

 

Brittany Pittman
PGS D, Mathematics

Brittany Pittman

Brittany Pittman is a newcomer to Ryerson. After completing her master’s degree in mathematics at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Brittany’s now moving to Toronto to pursue her PhD.

What made you decide on Ryerson?

I chose the Mathematical Modelling and Methods doctoral program at Ryerson primarily because of the faculty members in my interest area, many of whom are leading researchers in the field. The variety of study areas covered in the program also interested me, as well as the location of the university, near the many major financial institutions and technology companies.

What will you be working on?

I’ll be working under the supervision of Dr. Anthony Bonato on graph theory and graph searching games, such as Cops and Robbers.

Reaction to your win?

I was very honored to hear that I received this award. I’m excited that it will support my future research and allow me to concentrate on my studies.