Remarkable
Students

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Undergraduate

Yan Steimle

Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Throughout his undergraduate career, Yan received several research scholarships, and he maintained an impressive cumulative grade-point average.

Under the supervision of Professor Mateja Sajna, he undertook a summer project through the Undergraduate Student Research Awards program of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research council (NSERC) to investigate problems in graph theory, such as the problem of existence of certain Euler tours in hypergraphs. In mathematics, an Euler tour of a (hyper)graph is defined as a closed walk traversing every edge of the (hyper)graph exactly once.

One of Yan’s main motivations in pursuing studies at the University of Ottawa was the many research opportunities made available to students. Undergraduate research opportunities in both theoretical physics and abstract mathematics encouraged him to pursue a career in research. He says that such great research experiences influenced his recent decision to continue in academia. Yan is planning to return to uOttawa for his master’s degree to pursue research in the field of mathematical logic, in the hope of someday completing a PhD.

Anne-Martine Doucet

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

With a passion for Earth and environmental sciences, Anne-Martine wears more than one hat, as a student in the CO-OP program and as the captain of the University’s Ultimate Frisbee team.

Anne-Martine recently completed a CO-OP placement with Dr. Liam Kieser at the A.E. Lalonde Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, where she prepared samples for radiocarbon, tritium and radioiodine analysis. She thanks the CO-OP program for allowing her to gain valuable experience in environmental science working with different research teams.

Throughout her years in university, Anne-Martine has had to learn how to maintain a high level of energy and positivity to excel in her studies and in her athletics. She credits her success to the support she has received from her coaches and professors, who have continuously shown her how she can improve and grow as a student. She looks forward to continuing her education and pursuing graduate studies upon completing her BSc.


Master’s

Hayley Tomkins

Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Under the supervision of Professors Monica Nevins and Hadi Salmasian, Hayley’s work focuses on cryptographic hash functions, a series of data suitable for use in cryptography.

This specific type of hash function is essential for digital signatures and authentication. As an undergraduate, she wrote three papers, two of which have already been published and are based on her summer research.

Hayley says that one of her biggest hurdles was understanding that her self-worth was not based on her grades. She found that research projects allowed her to overcome it, as she began to feel excited about mathematics outside the world of exams and assignments.

Beyond academia, Hayley has volunteered with the Nova Scotia Math Circles, where she mentored young students. For her, helping young girls gain the confidence they need is crucial, especially in a field where women are still underrepresented.

Neke Ibeh

Department of Biology

After completing a BSc in biomathematics at Queen’s University, Neke completed her MSc in two years at uOttawa.

Under the supervision of Professor Stephane Aris-Brosou, she wrote and published a paper on the Ebola virus and its evolution, specifically, how its 2014 variant reached unprecedented transmission and mortality rates. Bioinformatics can help decipher complex biological questions, better equipping those fighting the disease.

Before defending her thesis, Neke had already secured a permanent job as a bioinformatician at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto. In this role, Neke uses many skills she acquired while completing her master’s, such as the ability to collaborate across disciplinary boundaries, as well as to objectively analyze her own work. Her career as a bioinformatician challenges her on a daily basis and allows her to apply her skills to tackle the most critical questions in cancer research.


PhD

Giulio Vampa

Department of Physics

On his own initiative, Giulio formed a team of scientists from different institutions to develop a new theory of how high harmonics are formed in solids, and to test it experimentally.

His research, conducted under the supervision of Dr. Paul Corkum, broadens our fundamental understanding of laser-matter interactions with crystals. The theory he developed in collaboration with his partners introduced a new approach to probe the response of materials. Giulio’s PhD research led to major papers published in Nature and Physical Review Letters.

Throughout his PhD studies, Giulio dared to investigate a brand new phenomenon of which very little was known, and was not the initial topic of his thesis. He was focused throughout the process, determined to solve one particular issue without wasting energy on less important matters. Since completing his studies at uOttawa, Giulio has begun a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University.

Gwendolyn Bailey

Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences

During her PhD studies at the University of Ottawa under the supervision of Professor Deryn Fogg, Gwendolyn identified challenges in an important area of synthetic and catalytic chemistry.

Next, she clearly laid out the underlying mechanistic principles and developed practical solutions to them. She was inspired to pursue research in catalyst decomposition mechanisms after recognizing its potential transformative impact on industrial processes.

Gwendolyn has been recognized as a very generous mentor towards her peers and junior trainees, through her stellar leadership role both within Dr. Fogg’s group and in the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences. Through regular correspondence with her students, encouragement and general advice, she has sparked excitement and enthusiasm among students about their field of study. As proof of her dedication, she has won the University’s Teaching Assistant of the Year award two years in a row.

Abdullah Akbar

Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences

Abdullah’s research in Professor Jeffrey Keillor’s group has been published in several high-impact journals such as Nature Chemical Biology and Oncogene.

He was also selected to participate in the prestigious Gordon Research Conference for transglutaminases in Italy. Abdullah’s research project aimed to rationally engineer a potent and selective small molecule inhibitor that has therapeutic potential. In collaboration with his colleagues, Abdullah wishes to contribute to a better understanding of human disease and to improve human health.

One area of research that Abdullah has been involved in is the design, synthesis and kinetic evaluation of targeted covalent inhibitors that are selective for human tissue transglutaminase (hTG2). hTG2 has a role in two forms of malignant cancers, and the inactivation of hTG2 in cancer cells decreases cancer stem cell survival rates. Abdullah and his colleagues believe that their inhibitors show promise for targeting hTG2 in anti-cancer stem cell therapy.

Melissa Anderson

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Melissa is an accomplished PhD student, having established an international career as an ocean explorer working extensively with U.S., German and Australian research institutions in her chosen field of volcanology and marine geosciences.

In the last two years, she has represented the University of Ottawa and her supervisor, Dr. Mark Hannington, on three international research cruises, studying active submarine volcanoes in the Canary Islands of the eastern Atlantic, the Mariana Islands of the Western Pacific and eastern New Caledonia and the New Hebrides. Her research, which has now been published or accepted in three peer-reviewed international research journals, spans the fields of volcanology, mineralogy and oceanography. 

During her studies, Melissa has found time to mentor several undergraduate and high school students in summer schools and internship programs. At the same time, she gained notice as a science photographer, and several of her images have been published and have won competitions.


postdoctoral fellow (PDF)

Robert Fickler

Department of Physics

Robert is very interested in understanding the nature of the physical world.

Broadly speaking, his doctoral work addressed the issue of entanglement in high-dimensional quantum systems. His postdoctoral work, supported by a prestigious Banting fellowship, focuses on the phenomenon of quantum entanglement, where pairs or groups of particles interact in such a way that they can no longer be described independently. It is unlike other physical effects because it tells us that the quantum world is very different from our everyday experience.

Robert chose to pursue his postdoctoral research at the University of Ottawa for several reasons. He was interested in the research performed by the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Quantum Nonlinear Optics, led by Professor Robert Boyd. Furthermore, Robert appreciates the commitment of the University to the field of quantum photonics, as shown by the recent investments in lab space and equipment in the Advanced Research Complex and the potential for building strong research collaborations within the Max Planck-uOttawa Centre for Extreme and Quantum Photonics.

Diane Orihel

Department of Biology

Diane is a freshwater ecologist who investigates the human impact on aquatic ecosystems through large-scale, multidisciplinary field experiments.

Her postdoctoral research, under the supervision of Drs. Jules Blais and Vance Trudeau, focused on topics such as nutrient cycling and algal blooms in eutrophic lakes, mercury contamination of aquatic food webs and the environmental fate of flame retardants.  She is now an assistant professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, where she is studying the effects of oil sands contaminants on amphibians.

At the University of Ottawa, Diane received Banting and Liber Ero postdoctoral fellowships, two of the most prestigious fellowships awarded to postdoctoral researchers in Canada. Her motivation to work in her field comes from her strong connection to water. She is also well known for her determined advocacy work to preserve the internationally unique Experimental Lakes Area research facility.

Contact

University of Ottawa - Faculty of Science
Research Office
Tabaret Hall, room 378G and 364D
550 Cumberland St
Ottawa, ON Canada
K1N 6N5
Tel: (613) 562-5986 and (613) 562-5800 ext. 3927