Campus News

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

News Release

August 26, 2004

U of G grads win commonwealth scholarships

Two recent University of Guelph graduates will be studying in Ghana and Scotland this fall on prestigious Commonwealth Scholarships, considered to be among the most honourable awards for international research in the world.

Ian Wagg, a recent Bio-Medical Science alumnus, will pursue a master’s of public health degree at the University of Ghana. Kate Morgan, who graduated in biological engineering in 2004, will study for a master’s degree in wrist prosthetics at the University of Strathclyde. Commonwealth scholarships cover airfare, tuition and provide a monthly allowance.

Wagg is interested in the transmission of infectious diseases that disproportionately affect the developing world such as malaria, TB, HIV and cholera. He will spend eight months at the university and four months doing field work at a malaria vaccine trial site in rural Ghana. There he will participate in research being conducted in affiliation with a U.S. Navy group that recently helped sequence the Plasmodium falciparum genome, the organism that causes human malaria.

“That was part of the appeal,” Wagg said. “Obviously, I am not going to get experience working with the same kinds of infectious diseases in Canada as I will in West Africa. I will be observing and studying the transmission of diseases that up until now I’ve only read about in textbooks. Hopefully I won’t be getting first-hand exposure, but I will definitely be seeing things that I’m not used to seeing.”

When he leaves for Ghana in early September, Wagg will take with him a $10,000 award from the J. Armand Bombardier Internationalist Fellowship Program. He was one of 25 students across the country chosen for the esteemed fellowship that helps support study abroad. He was also one of 25 Canadians selected to receive a Julie Payette-NSERC Research Scholarship.

At U of G, Wagg was an executive member of the Bio-Medical Science Students’ Association and launched a new lecture series dedicated to local and global health issues. He was also active in the University’s Peer Helper Program, providing guidance and support to fellow students and receiving the 2004 Lin Coburn award, which is presented annually to one peer helper who has made a significant contribution to student life.

At the University of Strathclyde, Morgan will be working to improve wrist prostheses. She says demand is growing for devices better able to handle the kinds of repeated stresses experienced by the hand and wrist. While in Scotland, she plans to apply to medical school and hopes to become a family doctor, specializing in obstetrics and gynecology.

Morgan began at Guelph studying arts and science before switching to her major to engineering. “I'm interested in the ethical aspects of medicine. It seemed like a good melding of arts and science,” she said.

At U of G, Morgan analyzed the dynamic properties of horses' hooves and for a senior project, she designed a biopsy needle guidance system to improve breast biopsy procedure. She also worked as a summer research assistant in the medical imaging department at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. There, she wrote a computer program using magnetic resonance imaging to map parts of the brain, information useful in detecting brain cancer, stroke and developmental problems.

Morgan has been co-president of the Guelph chapter of the Canadian Medical and Biological Engineering Society and belonged to the U of G Women in Science and Engineering Club. She was also a member of the CPES Student Council and the Student Judicial Committee.

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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