Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

January 07, 2004

Students win NRC Women in Science, Engineering award

Two University of Guelph students are among 19 women across Canada selected to take part in the National Research Council's (NRC) Women in Engineering and Science (WES) program.

Melissa McKinnon, a second-year biomedical sciences student, and Louise Sun, a second-year biological engineering major, were two of 93 candidates nominated for the 2004 program from universities nationwide.

“This is fabulous news,” says president Alastair Summerlee. “We are always pleased when the high quality of our students is recognized. U of G is committed to providing a vibrant learning environment that encourages women to pursue studies and careers in science and engineering. So we are especially proud and happy that Melissa and Louise have been selected for this honour.”

The WES program was started in 1991. As part of the program, NRC hires students to work in its research laboratories during three summer or co-op work terms. Students are paired with an NRC scientist or engineer who serve as a mentor. McKinnon and Sun, who will receive $10,000 to $12,000 per work term, are still waiting to hear of their placement locations.

“I was thrilled to receive the award and hope it will being me one step closer to my future career goal,” said Sun, who plans a career in biomedical/biomechanical engineering. “I have always been interested in the early-stage detection of terminal diseases, and this award will enable me to participate in the development of cutting-edge biotechnologies such as immunofluoresence imaging, which will help save more lives.”

McKinnon, who is minoring in nutritional sciences and plans to apply to the Ontario Veterinary College, said she is “very honoured” by the NRC recognition. “During the three terms of this award, I will have the opportunity to work closely with different research teams and develop mentoring relationships.”

Engineering professor Valerie Davidson, a member of the U of G review committee for the NRC program, said: “I think Louise and Melissa are outstanding candidates for the WES program. Both students are enthusiastic about career opportunities in either science or engineering. Their interest and commitment are evident in their extracurricular activities.” Sun often speaks to high school students about science and engineering and McKinnon volunteers at OVC. Davidson also holds the prestigious Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council/HP (Canada) Chair for Women in Science and Engineering, which is designed to increase the number of females in science and engineering and provide role models for women considering careers in these fields.

Participation in the WES program has become a tradition for U of G students – a total of 19 have received the award . The NRC selection committee evaluates and selects candidates according to a number of criteria, including their academic profile, area of specialization and communication skills.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.

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