The University of Toronto and The W. Garfield Weston Foundation are delighted to announce the 16 inaugural Weston Fellows, recipients of Canada’s most prestigious awards dedicated to international experience at the doctoral level.

Posted on April 22, 2013

Undertaking studies in areas as diverse as geography, computer and medical sciences and public health, the recipients have been awarded $50,000 to further their research and broaden their skills and networks in a global setting.

The W. Garfield Weston Foundation Doctoral Fellowship Program was announced in January, open to PhD students in their third and fourth years of study, across all disciplines at the University, whose research requires them to travel, and who have displayed leadership within their community.  The program is providing 16 recipients each year–across the humanities and the social, physical and life sciences–an opportunity to work collaboratively with people from other cultures, and gain other perspectives and different expertise.  The first phase of the Weston Fellowship program will run through 2015 and will support 48 students with total funding of $2.4 million.

“The Weston Fellowships are a significant step forward in building Canada’s capacity for world-beating scholarship and innovation,” said U of T President David Naylor. “This ground-breaking initiative will help our best and brightest to gain international experience–a crucial factor in the formation of leaders, in our increasingly globalized world.”

Rebecca Bartel, one of the inaugural Weston Fellows is from the Department of Religion.  “The fellowship will allow me to continue research in Colombia where I am investigating the co-constituting realms of faith and finance, with a close analysis of credit, debt, financial inclusion programs, and logics of prosperity,” she said. “I will be teaching at the National University of Colombia during my research time, as well as continuing my engagement with vulnerable populations of internally displaced persons and social activism around economic integration, peace-building, and the role of new financial systems in the development of Colombia’s emerging economy.  These research initiatives will lead to new ways of understanding the constellations of faith and finance in a country emerging, both economically and socially.”

Drawn from a highly selective pool of candidates, the prestigious Weston Fellowships are funding students for a one-year period to enable them to undertake research abroad for their dissertations, such as fieldwork and archival work that can only be done in situ.  The Weston Fellowships will give these students access to human experts, but even more importantly, to other research assets that they would otherwise not have.

By establishing these fellowships, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation has filled a significant void in national PhD research, providing a unique and much-needed program to prepare our leading graduate students with international experiences, research opportunities, and collaborative networks, all directly propelling Canada toward success in an increasingly knowledge-based, globalized economy.  Over the length of the program, it will be making a tangible difference to recruiting and retaining Canada’s top doctoral candidates and, in turn, will be playing a role in enhancing Canada’s international competitiveness.

“We are delighted to welcome the first group of Weston Scholars in this program which will provide unparalleled opportunities for students to thrive on a global stage.  Throughout its history, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation has maintained a strong interest in educational programs that remove barriers and strengthen the ability of Canadians to innovate and lead–values which are central to this initiative,” said Eliza Mitchell, Chair of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation Education Committee. “We are proud to be supporting the Weston Fellows who will be great ambassadors for Canada in all the corners of the world. We look forward to watching their progress and hearing of their adventures.”

The 16 inaugural Weston Fellows are:

Rebecca Bartel in Religion traveling to the National University of Columbia to study debt, inclusion, and prosperity in Colombia’s emerging churches and economy.

Shaun Cleaver in Rehabilitation Sciences is traveling to Lusaka, Zambia to study and collaborate with Zambians with disabilities, helping to rethink rehabilitation using a critical social science perspective.

Martin Danyluk in Geography is traveling to urban waterfront areas in Panama and the United States to study commodity flows, urban logistics and the Panama Canal expansion.

Polina Dessiatnitchenko in Music is traveling to the Central State Archives of Literature and Art in Baku, Azerbaijan to study the chronotope of the subjective experience of Azerbaijani Mugham music.

Carrie Demmans Epp in Computer Science is traveling to the University of Birmingham, U.K. & Kwansei Gakuin High School in Japan to study the use of an adaptive mobile English language learning and communication support tool in formal education environments.

Jonathan Fuller in Medical Sciences is traveling to King’s College (London, U.K.) to study methods, Assumptions and implications for multimorbidity in the chronic disease model.

Julie-Anne Gandier in Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry is traveling to the University of Helsinki (Finland) & Aalto University (Finland) to study hydrophobins as Scaffolds for Designer Enzyme Complexes and Catalytic Interfaces.

Kristy Hackett in Public Health Sciences is traveling to communites in Singida rural and Iramba districts to study improving women’s access to maternal health services in rural Tanzania.

Jessica Nell Henderson in Medieval Studies, is traveling to the Bodleian Library, Oxford, U.K. to study the interaction between literature and folk medicine within late medieval miscellany manuscripts

Amy Hwang in Rehabilitation Sciences is traveling to the Karolinska Institute’s Dementia Research Group in Sweden to study assistive smart homes and a systematic method to approach the design of caregiver interfaces.

Rochelle Johnston in Leadership, Higher, and Adult Education is traveling to war-torn areas in Africa to study bystanders to genocide.

Jennifer Junwa Lau in East Asian Studies is traveling to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taipei to study constructed images of Canada in Chinese newspapers, textbooks, and encyclopedias from the first half of the 20th century.

Gail Lori Prasad in Curriculum, Teaching & Learning is traveling to Laboratoire Dipralang (Montpelier, France) to study integrating English & French scholarship on children’s pluriliguism.

Nicole Ricker in Physical & Environmental Sciences is traveling to the Belgian Nuclear Research Center to study the mobility potential of recombinase in trio (RIT) elements.

Steven Schramm in Physics is traveling to CERN (Switzerland) to study dark matter in the monojet plus missing transverse energy channel at the ATLAS detector.

Lahoma Thomas in Political Science is traveling to the Institute for Gender and Development studies at the University of the West Indies (Kingston campus, Jamaica), studying political violence and insecurity in Jamaica.