Lucky Iron Fish Nets Grad Student Fulbright Fellowship

August 09, 2013 - News Release

A University of Guelph graduate student known for his efforts at fighting hunger and poverty has won a prestigious Fulbright Fellowship. Gavin Armstrong will spend the next year studying and researching at the University of Auburn’s College of Human Sciences in Auburn, Alabama.

A PhD candidate in U of G’s Department of Biomedical Sciences, Armstrong was one of 16 Canadian recipients; he will receive $25,000 to cover a year of academic studies. He won the fellowship for his work on the Lucky Iron Fish Project, a program designed to alleviate anemia in developing countries.

“This is an important accolade for Guelph as it speaks highly of the caliber of our students,” said president Alastair Summerlee, who is also Armstrong’s thesis advisor.

“Gavin is passionate about finding ways to improve the world, which is also one of Guelph’s distinguishing community values. He has worked very hard and will be an outstanding ambassador for Canada in the program.”

The Fulbright program is an international educational exchange program started in 1946 to increase mutual understanding between the United States and other countries. The Canada-U.S. Fulbright Program is 23 years old and graduated more than 1,200 scholars. Armstrong is the second Guelph student to win a fellowship, after political science student David Hornsby in 2005.

Armstrong has worked with Auburn University on hunger issues during his studies at Guelph; when he heard about the fellowship, he decided to apply.

“It is such a prestigious award with so many applicants, I thought there was a one-in-a-million chance I could get it,” he said. “I’m thrilled to work with one of my heroes, Dean June Henton, at Auburn. She’s an inspiration, and I want to learn from her how to bring people together. There will be a lot to aid my doctoral thesis.”

At Guelph, Armstrong has managed the the Lucky Iron Fish Project. It looks to put a lump of iron, shaped as a fish, into the cooking pots of people in the developing world, most specifically in Cambodia. Studies have found that the fish can significantly boost iron levels of those who use it.

He will also work in New York City during the International Quality of Life Awards (IQLA) event, which is sponsored by Auburn. The IQLA honours individuals and institutions in diverse fields, with award laureates including Madeleine Albright, Desmond Tutu and Summerlee, who won in 2012.

Armstrong previously earned a bachelor of commerce honours degree in the College of Management and Economics (CME) at Guelph. During his studies, he has organized the Emergency Meal Food Packing Challenge at the university to prepare meals for West Africa, which is now entering its third year.

“CME provided many opportunities to explore issues around hunger and poverty and the role business has in helping eradicate it,” said Armstrong, who previously won the 2011 President William Jefferson Clinton Hunger Leadership Award. “Now, my PhD research in commercializing a health innovation using social entrepreneurship brings together business and science. Hunger has no boundaries, so neither should education."

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Gavin Armstrong

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