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U n i v e r s i t y o f M a n i t o b a’ s G r a d ua t e S t u d e n t M a g a z i n e March 2012


TEDxManitoba hits Winnipeg “Incredibly inspiring” inaugural event a success Ty l er Omichinsk i

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echnology, Education, and Design (TED) is an organization that sets up events where some of the best and the brightest from around the world gather to share their thoughts, findings, research, or some other random topic in a short presentation. They vary from the funny to the touching, scientific to the artistic, and much more. Riding on this major success, TED established a program known as TEDx. This allowed other organizers to put on what are essentially miniature TED events in their locales. On Feb. 9th, 2012 TEDxManitoba 2012 took place as a gathering of interesting and brilliant individuals in the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre Warehouse “to imagine what can happen when we push ourselves to think about our world in new ways”. Unfortunately, I did not spend my day at the TEDx event, my day was spent attending classes and watching the speeches I could access through the livestream. The theme for this year was “What If?” inherently prompting a variety of questions from those in attendance. What if things were different? What if you could do anything? What if you could go out and pursue that dream you have? I had the opportunity to speak with one of the attendees, Adam Prokopanko, a student of City Planning at the University of Manitoba, about his experience. As one of the 100 attendees of the actual event, he has seen an inherently different version of TEDx than those of us who watched on the stream. “The biggest differences,” he says, “come from the purpose for being there. It is largely an opportunity for networking.” The opportunity to sit in the room and connect with others, simply having a variety of brilliant ideas bounce off of each other proves to be “incredibly inspiring.” Prokopanko has been inspired, he says, to reaffirm his goals and plans from the inspirational energy, which bounces around the event. Beyond this, he also says one of the largest differences was the raw emotion not present in an edited video; simply being there was different then watching the video. Seeing emotions on the audience and the speaker’s faces was something else entirely. Specifically, Prokopanko says that the most powerful moment was during Wilma Derkson’s speech where she forgives the killer of her daughter and urges the audience to follow a similar suit. From reading through Twitter and blog posts from a variety of attendees, they hold a similar about Derkson’s speech. A few days after the event, the organizers are scrambling to try to ensure that a TEDx inspired community continues on after the fact. For something like TEDx to

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Gradzette


University of Manitoba’s Graduate Student Magazine

Gradzette

c/o The Manitoban Newspaper Publications Corporation 105 University Centre University of Manitoba Winnipeg MB, R3T 2N2

General inquiries and advertising Phone: (204) 474.6535 Fax: (204) 474.7651 Email: publisher@gradzette.com

Editor: Sheldon Birnie Copy Editor: Leif Larsen Designer: Kevin Doole Contributors: Leif Larsen, Sheldon Birnie, Beibei Lu, Gemma Manangan, and John Hu. Cover: Ben Clarkson.

What if you could go out and pursue that dream you have?

continue on beyond a singular event, it needs to continue on beyond an instance in time which may inspire members today, but have limited effects going forward. There is a focus on involving everyone via social media and developing a community around this shared event in their lives. David Pensato, a member of the organizing team, reports via his social media that he is interested in involving members of the livestream to a greater degree moving forward into future years. The organizers are keen to support these livestreams as well, reaching an increasingly large group and including them in this cultural artefact with the intention of fomenting a larger degree of change in the world. The week after the event, it is likely that many of the attendees are still parsing their experiences and the social media buzz has supported this. Several attendees are still discussing what has happened and how it has affected them. Lisa MacKenzie, the Chair for TEDxManitoba this year has already been talking about next year through her social media. The excitement which the attendees have cannot be effectively communicated through this medium, simply read through some of the posts that the attendees have made and you too can have a piece of insight into this unique experience.

Photo by Sheldon Birnie

The Gradzette is the official student magazine of the University of Manitoba’s graduate student community and is published on the first Monday of each month by The Manitoban Newspaper Publications Corporation. The Gradzette is a democratic student organization, open to participation from all students. It exists to serve its readers as students and citizens. The magazine’s primary mandate is to report fairly and objectively on issues and events of importance and interest to the graduate students of the University of Manitoba, to provide an open forum for the free expression and exchange of opinions and ideas and to stimulate meaningful debate on issues that affect or would otherwise be of interest to the student body and/or society in general. The Gradzette serves as a training ground for students interested in any aspect of journalism. Students and other interested parties are invited to contribute. Please contact the Editor for submission guidelines. The Gradzette reserves the right to edit all submissions and will not publish any material deemed by its editorial board to be discriminatory, racist, sexist, homophobic or libelous. Opinions expressed in letters and articles are solely those of the authors. The Gradzette is a member of the Canadian University Press, a national student press cooperative with members from St. John’s to Victoria. All contents are ©2012 and may not be reprinted without the express written permission of the Manitoban Newspaper Publications Corporation. Yearly subscriptions to the Gradzette are available, please contact publisher@gradzette.com for more information.

March 2012

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Researcher profile

Xavier Louis Shel don Birnie

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avier Louis is a doctoral candidate in the department of physiology at the University of Manitoba. Louis took time from his research to speak to the Gradzette about his work at the St. Boniface Research Centre. “I came here in 2008, Thomas Netticadan invited me through Sijo to come over here to do my PhD,” Louis told the Gradzette. Louis and Sijo Joseph, who was profiled in the January 2012 edition of the Gradzette, were colleagues in India, where both received their master’s degrees in biotechnology from Bahrathiar University. While Joseph’s research focused on effects of resveratrol on hypertensive rats, Louis’s research focuses on the effects of resveratrol on obesity, and heart problems related to obesity. “The rational behind that project is that the Canadian population is getting more obese, and heart function and heart disease is one end point for the obese population,” Louis explains. “In the case of obesity you can have two treatments: either you treat obesity, or you treat the core motilities, that is what we call the associated diseases.” Many bodily functions are affected by obesity, from joints and bone structure, to lung and heart problems. Ideally, treatment is intended to prolong life and make it more enjoyable, coupled with increased exercise to reduce body weight. “In my project we had rats with a high fat diet to mimic the population with a high calorie diet,” Louis said. “And that is why they get obese and have all these problems. So, we fed the rats this diet for six weeks and then we had the animals fed with resveratrol to see if their problems have decreased and they are getting better, with regards to the heart.” Resveratrol is a compound found in grapes and berries and, to a limited extent, in wine. It came to public attention via research into the the “French Paradox.” While the French historically enjoy a high calorie diet, their instances of heart disease are much less than their North American counterparts, which led some to believe that it was their regular consumption of wine that reduced their risk of heart disease. “[Our] study went 12 weeks,” explained Louis. “At the end of the study we did an ultra sound before taking out the heart to study what is their condition. We found that this particular compound resveratrol was beneficial in reversing, so that is important, it is not preventing it is reversing the problems associated with obesity.” “The important point is that from a clinical perspective, we are seeing that people come as obese,” Louis continues, “so we want to be able to treat them and reverse problems, not just prevent it and give it to random populations. In this case, we were trying to reverse the effects, and we were happy to see that we were successful.” Louis developed an interest in biology and chemistry at a young age, before beginning his undergraduate degree in chemistry at University of Calicut in 1999.

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However, by the time he had completed his undergrad work, he realized his true passion lay in biology. For his master’s, he pursued that passion, taking a MSc in biotechnology. After completing his master’s, Louis said he did some research at a research facility in Kerala, India. “It was called Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology. I worked there for two years. I was a junior researcher, just working as a research technician, studying cancer biology. So I was studying a compound and its beneficial effects in regards to cancer cells.” While working, Louis was pursuing his academic interests, applying at universities outside of India. “If you go out of India,” he explained, “you have more opportunities for research. At that point, I was even applying to Australia.” For a year, Louis taught chemistry at the pre-university level in Maldives. It was there that he got the call from his old colleague Joseph, advising him of an open position at the U of M. “So I contacted Dr. Netticadan,” Louis recalls, “and that is how I’m here.” Outside of academic work, Louis says he’s never been overly involved in extracurricular activities, such as student council. “From my student days in India, I was good at sports, so I am happy to take part in different sports,” he recalls fondly. “I was playing cricket when I was back in school, and soccer. But I am not participating in teams today. After coming here I learned about American football and ice hockey, not to play, but to enjoy watching and understand. I did learn to play tennis after coming here though. So I enjoy sports, mostly.” Louis is also recently married. “I went back to India in 2010 for a vacation and I got married! Now I have my wife here with me in Canada, and that is very good!”

March 2012

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Grads takes center stage Local research colloquium provides grad students opportunity to present their work Gemm a M a na nga n

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raduate students often find themselves completely immersed in their research, to the point where they often have difficulty explaining their work to someone who is not an expert in the field. That’s why in 2009 the University of Winnipeg launched the Graduate Students Research Colloquium, one of several new programs aimed at providing more opportunities for grad students. The research colloquium was designed to give students the opportunity to see what their peers are doing and gain valuable experience they can add to their CV. It’s an annual full day event where students have the choice to present their research as either an oral or poster presentation, with prizes awarded for the best submission in each category. Now in its fourth year, the research colloquium will be taking place April 4, 2012 and for the first time is open to all Manitoba grad students, not just those at the University of Winnipeg. Charles Wong, associate professor and Canada Research Chair in Environmental Toxicology, has had several students participate and win best-speaker awards at regional, national and international conferences over his 10-year career, and continues to encourages his students to take part in events where they can present their work. “It’s important for students to participate, because it provides an opportunity to gain experience in presenting their research,” says Wong. “It’s also great for developing effective communications and presentation skills that will be useful throughout a career.” The program is expanding every year, becoming more relevant to real life experience. This year there’s the addition of conference proceedings for all the papers and posters presented, the end result being an online publication. This will provide students participating in the research colloquium the added benefit of a publishing credit on their CV. Not only does participating in an event like this look good on your CV says Wong, but presenting at the colloquium also gives students a taste of what their professional careers will be like. “Giving platform and poster presentations at this colloquium is very similar to doing so at scientific conferences, whether it’s a small regional one, or a large international venue. Having good research results is necessary to getting ahead in science, but it’s not sufficient.”

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“It provides an opportunity to gain experience in presenting their research.” — Charles Wong

“You also need to be able to present your results clearly and convincingly. It doesn’t matter how brilliant you are, if you can’t relay that to anyone else,” Wong added. The research colloquium aims to be a very multi-disciplinary event, encouraging grad students from several different fields to present their work. Presentations last year ranged from the effects of forest fragmentation on chokecherries, to music and gender identity of young males. Last year’s poster presentation winner Angela Sylvester describes the research colloquium as the perfect way to start participating in graduate level presentations. “Showing my work to colleagues and friends and getting to hear about their research was fun. The atmosphere struck a nice balance between being relaxed, yet professional.” Sylvester’s advice to graduates this year who are planning to present is to just relax and embrace the opportunity. “The research colloquium is a low-pressure, friendly atmosphere,” she says. “Also, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and step out of the box by doing a creative poster presentation, they’re fun to make and to present!” According to Wong good communication skills are valuable in any career path, and that’s why the research colloquium has been successful. “Networking connections, future job offers, and funding opportunities can originate from giving a good presentation, so the importance of learning how to do this cannot be understated.”

Photo by Sheldon Birnie

March 2012

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GSA Elections

Interview with outgoing GSA President, Peter Nawrot L eif L a r sen

Gradzette: Why did you decide to not run again. Peter Nawrot: I have to finish school, and I think in all honesty, I have little to no

time to do school work. Taking on the duties and responsibilities of being the GSA president is a lot of work, and it’s really a full time commitment. I was tempted to run, but I can’t hold my schooling back any further. I’m passionate about what I’m studying in social work and to work in that field. Gradzette: What was your biggest accomplishment as president? PN: One of the biggest accomplishments was building the infrastructure of the

GSA. A lot of what was accomplished this past year was due to the efforts and hard work of the previous executive and the previous president, Megan Labine. This year I think the biggest thing is restructuring our finances. I think I’ll be remembered more so for the challenges we faced with our identity within the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). But setting that aside, we’ve doubled the grants we give to students. We collect money from students, we should be giving that back. We’re a non-profit; we shouldn’t be hoarding money. This year we’ve also had more social activities. Gradzette: Some of your executive is running for reelection . . . PN: They’ve enjoyed it. They’ve worked hard. Jennifer [Chen] for instance will be an

even better VPA next year. She did an excellent job this year, and now she’s already talking about how to make things better. These positions take a few months — up to a year to learn. So she will be even more empowered, even more of an advocate, than she was this year. Tonia [Bates], if she gets elected, she will be able to do more than she’s doing now as VPE. Senator [Oliver] Gagné, if he gets elected, will be an even better senator. The “newbies” [running in the election] are new to the University of Manitoba, so they will be here for a few more years. They have been actively involved on student council, so they are taking that next step, to become more engaged in student governance. Gradzette: Do you see the fact that all GSA candidates are running unopposed as being the result of a lack of student involvement, or a reflection on the amount of work required? PN: The fact that they’re running unopposed doesn’t surprise me, and the reason it doesn’t surprise me is that most people don’t want this job. Grad studies is busy enough, the amount of work they have to do, the amount of research they have to do, the constant meeting with their advisor; that leaves very little time. I’m glad that we have all of the positions full, which is a step up from last year.

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It is encouraging that new people want to take over; if we didn’t have people running then I would be concerned. Also, we have a very small graduate student population here; lots of part-timers, lots of people who aren’t even on this campus. And I think that by branding the GSA name, by getting us known in the university community might get more people taking part [in the future]. Gradzette: Voter numbers for GSA elections represent a pretty small chunk of your population. What needs to be done to get graduate students interested in voting? PN: That’s a difficult question. If we’re doing something wrong, or there is a huge challenge ahead of us, then students will engage, but I think the majority of students, if they like the way things are going, will not vote; that’s just how things are. I know when we had a conflict in the GSA a couple years ago we had many people running in the election; there was more interest because things were controversial. Although, I think [graduate students] should be voting, voting show’s greater interest in the people who are elected, and gives [the executive] a greater appreciation. When we need people to sit on committees, and we reach out to students I have been overwhelmed by the response. Gradzette: If you had to give one piece of advice to your successor, what would that be? PN: The key thing about being the president of the GSA is that it’s all managing relationships — that’s a bit chunk of the job. Managing relationships between your executive, your staff and students . . . and between the GSA, university, community and other organizations. In order for a relationship to grow and continue you need to invest time, otherwise those relationships will break down.

March 2012

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GSA Elections

Emmanuel Ojo GSA presidential candidate Shel don Birnie

Emmanuel RoTimi Ojo is a first year PhD student in the department of soil science. He completed his master’s in the same department last fall and obtained his bachelors in soil science and land management from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria in 2007.  Gradzette: Why do you want to be elected GSA President? Emmanuel Ojo: I believe in being an active participant and in

making significant contribution to any organization I am in. GSA has had major significant progress in the last couple of years and it is very important to have someone who has been involved in the process all along to carry on with it. My slate is running with the slogan “Maintaining Momentum.” Furthermore, I hope to bring the GSA closer to all graduate students. Many graduate students don’t know about some of the services we offer and how they can benefit from them.  Gradzette: What is your background in student politics, or related activity? EO: I have been an active member of the GSA Council since 2009 and I was the

Chief Returning Officer for the 2010 GSA General Elections. Also, I served briefly as the GSA Vice-President External (Feb-April 2011) to complete the term for an executive that resigned. I also sit on various university committees like the Faculty Council of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. In my undergrad, I was the president of the soil science and land management student association in 2006 and also the chairman, adjudication panel for the student union elections in 2005. Gradzette: Why should grad students vote for you? EO: My vast experience over the last three years as an active graduate student

in GSA, in particular, and student advocacy, in general, is what I bring to the table. I hope to make the voice of graduate students heard and that is why my colleagues and I are running under the slate: U Matter (You Matter). It’s not just about having a students association, we hope to make all members — aboriginal, international students, everyone — have a great graduate student experience at the U of M.  Gradzette: Where do you see the GSA headed in 2012-13 under your leadership,

should you be elected? EO: I hope to have GSA consolidate on our autonomy from UMSU. This was a great feat achieved last year and we have to build on ensuring that GSA is recognized as an independent association, but in partnership with UMSU. We need to ensure that the voice and concerns of graduate students are heard. I hope to re-visit the recommendations in the Time To Completion (TTC) report that was carried out two years ago to ensure high quality graduate student experience.  

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GSA Elections

Yijie (Jennifer) Chen Candidate for GSA vice president academic Shel don Birnie

Yijie (Jennifer) Chen is a third year of my kinesiology graduate student at the U of M, researching the relationship between built and environmental facts and walking behavious among Winnipeg’s aging population. She received her undergraduate and first M.Sc. degree (Kinesiology) at Nanjing Sports Institute, in Nanjing, China. Gradzette: Why are you running for this position?
 Yijie Chen: I am seeking re-election as the vice-president academic

for 2012-2013 term and would like to continue to build on the accomplishments I’ve achieved as a VPA over the past year. Some of these include the distribution of the GSA Awards and Teaching Award, organizing the successful and well-attended GSA awards luncheon, organizing the graduate student holiday hamper program which saw an overall increase this year, administering the hardship funding, organizing the GSA speaker series and workshops, as well as ongoing student advocacy cases.

 Gradzette: What is your background in student politics?
 YC: I became involved in student politics as a GSA councilor in September 2010,

representing my department in the GSA Council. Then I took over as senator to fill a vacancy. Following that, I was elected as VPA for 2011-2012. I have also been active in university and senate committees, the Search Committee in my department, as well as attending CFS meetings and meetings with government. Gradzette: Where do you see the GSA headed in 2012-2013, and how do you feel you can contribute to that goal?
 YC: I would like to see the GSA continue the great work that has been accomplished during the past two years, and work to do more to serve students. Some of the services I feel we can do better on includes reaching out to more grad students, keeping the GSA website updated, and organizing more social events in our new GSA lounge! This year, I would also like to organize the GSA holiday hampers independently from UMSU, allowing us to cater more specifically to the needs of graduate students.

Freelance.

Gradzette relies on paid freelance submissions from graduate students. To find out more email:publisher@gradzette.com

March 2012

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GSA Elections

Tonia Bates Candidate for GSA vice president external Shel don Birnie

Tonia Bates has finished her course work for her master’s in kinesiology and recreational management, and hopes to propose her thesis this spring. She holds a bachelor’s degree in recreational management from the University of Alberta, and a bachelor’s of education from the University of Calgary. Tonia currently holds the position of GSA VP-External. Gradzette: Why are you running for this position?
 Tonia Bates: This year we were able to see several initiatives begin, including:

continued graduate student funding, university space development, student housing negotiations, improved food services on campus, and strengthening the GSA as an organization. We are questioning our membership in student organizations, wanting to ensure the most beneficial use of student money, and continue to reach out to graduates students to encourage their active participation in the GSA. I want to follow through with this work to ensure an improved university community for all our graduate students.     Gradzette: What is your background in student politics?
 TB: My student political career began when I was voted vice-president of the student

council in my junior high school, which was a while ago. Since this time I have taken the opportunity to participate in volunteer and employee leadership positions within the recreation and education fields, including being an event organizer, instructor, outdoor leadership organizer, and Learning Leader at an elementary school.   Gradzette: Where do you see the GSA headed in 2012-2013, and how do you feel

you can contribute to that goal?
 TB: I want to continue to improve established relationships with our graduate students, administration, government officials and off-campus organizations. We need to continue to find solutions to issues such as student organization memberships, academic integrity, housing, university development plans, campus food services, parking and engaging more graduate students in campus life. We also need to ensure that our newly renovated office and lounge offer graduate students places to meet each other, congregate, and discuss important issues in order to continue to build a healthy, strong group of academics.  

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GSA Elections

Chadwick Cowie Candidate for GSA vice president internal Shel don Birnie

Chadwick Cowie is in a two year master’s of arts program, specializing in political studies. He completed his honours BA in political science, with a minor in native studies, at the University of Western Ontario. Cowie spent much of his childhood and teenage years in his First Nation (Anishinaabeg) Community of Manominiiking, located near Peterborough Ontario. Gradzette: Why are you running for this position?
 Chadwick Cowie: I am running for this position due to my past experiences in

many student/non-student political bodies, my background of study, my love of policy/protocol/bylaws/etc, as well as the feeling of trust I have garnered amongst many of my co-GSA council members. I am a hard worker who will listen to students. I also want to continue the great work my predecessor, Angela Freeman, has done thus far. Lastly, my experience this year as a department representative has allowed me to not only sit on the bylaw committee but also learn the inner-workings of the UMGSA. Gradzette: What is your background in student politics?
 CC: I have a wide variety of experiences in student politics and other political back-

ground. For instance, between October 2008 and August 2009 I worked as a policy analyst at the Chiefs of Ontario, an organization representing the 133 First Nations communities within Ontario. I have been an avid member/volunteer with the Liberal Party of Canada – sitting as the aboriginal youth representative to its aboriginal and youth wings, and was recently elected as the aboriginal wing’s co-chair (Male) in January 2012. Additionally, I helped with election campaigns, in 2006, 2008, and 2011, for various candidates. While an undergrad, I was heavily involved in the Western Liberals, and also sat as the president of the First Nations Students’ Association during this time. In the 2006-2007 school year, I was a department representative within the Social Science Student Council and sat on various committees, from fundraising to employment. Gradzette: Where do you see the GSA headed in 2012-2013, and how do you feel

you can contribute to that goal?
 CC: I see this in-coming group as one pushing to do more outreach to fellow graduate

students, whether through department organizations, or student clubs. I see myself contributing to this by my willingness to help with outreach, do proper research and get to the answers needed to find out what is actually our current status with CFS.

March 2012

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GSA Elections

GSA Senate candidates Gemm a M a na nga n

Sem Moreno Sem Moreno is a second year MSc student in the department of immunologoy. He was born in Mexico and completed his BSc in biology at the Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina, USA. Gradzette: Why are you interested in running for senator? Sem Moreno: I have always been involved in extracurricular/com-

munity activities and have enjoyed learning to follow and lead. Also, I’d like to integrate myself more into the school community by being a liaison between my peers and student government. Gradzette: What is your background in student politics? SM: I served as Student Government Association treasurer from 2005-2006 and

have been involved in a few student groups such as the Latin American Students Association, and Campus Crusades for Christ. Gradzette: Why should grad students vote for you? SM: I believe good communication is essential to maintain two or more parties syn-

chronized, and I would like to be a liaison between student and student government so any concerns my peers may have can be appropriately addressed. Additionally, as an international student I can identify myself with other foreign students and their needs. Gradzette: If you could have dinner with anybody (dead or alive), who would it be

and why? SM: I would have dinner with Martin Luther King Jr. as he is one of my favorite figures in history for his memorable speech “I have a dream.” I feel he is a great example of ambition and leadership, and something most can identify with.

Olivier Gagné Olivier Gagné is a third year PhD student in the department of geological sciences. He completed his BSc in chemistry at the University of Ottawa. Gradzette: Why are you interested in running for Senator? Olivier Gagné: I am running for my third consecutive term as a senator.

Being a senator and executive member for the GSA has been an amazing time, and very rewarding. It has been a pleasure to meet the students of this university, to represent them at various levels of decision-making, as well as

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to help and advise them. I like to think I have been doing all of that with increasing effectiveness throughout my time with the GSA and would be thrilled to keep on doing so. Another incentive for me to run is to carry forward the progress the GSA has made this year, and help with a smooth transition. Gradzette: What is your background in student politics? OG: University of Manitoba Graduate Student Association councilor, then senator,

Geological Sciences Graduate Student Association vice president, then president, and University of Manitoba Tennis Club vice president. Gradzette: Why should grad students vote for you? OG: Because I eat ice cream with a fork. Also, because I could think of a lot of moth-

erhood statements right now. Gradzette: If you could have dinner with anybody (dead or alive), who would it be and why? OG: I would probably like to take the Mona Lisa on a dinner date, and ask her what happened to her eyebrows.

Jessica Rebizant Jessica Rebizant is a first year master’s of arts student in the department of political studies. She completed a BA with an advanced major in political studies and a minor in psychology at the University of Manitoba. Gradzette: Why are you interested in running for Senator? Jessica Rebizant: I am interested in running for Senator

because I want to be more actively involved in student life and student associations. As well, I like the idea of working as a team with the rest of the UMGSA in order to adhere to the interests of the grad student body. Gradzette: What is your background in student politics? JR: In high school I was vice president of my student council. I am currently the

MA representative for science and the management of protected areas. Gradzette: Why should grad students vote for you? JR:  I am honest, trustworthy, and hardworking. As well, I feel that I can accurately

represent the views of a wide range of students. Gradzette: If you could have dinner with anybody (dead or alive), who would it be and why? JR: I would want to have dinner with Jane Austen or J. K. Rowling, or both. They have been my favourite authors since junior high school.

March 2012

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GSA Elections

Carolyn Weiss Health Sciences GSA Presidential candidate Shel don Birnie

Carolyn is a fourth year MSc student in the department of immunologoy. She received her BSc Honours in biochemistry and biology at the University of Winnipeg. Outside of academics, Carolyn, a classically trained opera singer and piano player, loves music and baking. Gradzette: Why do you want to be elected HSGSA President? Carolyn Weiss: The HSGSA president provides the effective

link between Health Science graduate students and the greater graduate student body on the Fort Garry Campus. This past year, I have seen our current HSGSA president proudly lead and participate in our many events, and promote on our behalf to the GSA and to faculty. Throughout this endeavor I have assisted him whenever needed, but I have now decided to take the leadership role. I am very good at administrating events and opportunities for graduate students. I enjoy interacting with faculty and staff and advocating on students’ behalf. Gradzette: What is your background in student politics, or related activity? CW: I have done many terms with student politics. I was voted in as student body

president with my high school. While in undergrad I served on a number of committees to plan the new science building. During my graduate years I was deputy student representative for one year, and then student representative for the following year in the department of immunology. This past year, I have been vice president internal for the HSGSA. I have managed and lead numerous teams at my summer employment with Parks Canada, and represented their union on numerous committees.   Gradzette: Why should grad students vote for you? CW: I believe that I bring a well-rounded background and a planned, structured

approach to the organization. I am very much involved in my community, be it through mentoring high school students, singing at nursing homes, or being a leader in my religious community. I am also involved in a volunteer organization that protects and presents a historical site just north of the city. I am a very organized person, and I can lead very well, making me an ideal candidate for this position. Gradzette: Where do you see the HSGSA headed in 2012-13 under your leadership, should you be elected? CW: One of our difficulties is involving students and bridging gaps. Many of our students are scattered throughout a large area, and our St. Boniface students are

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quite far away. This year we hope to bring students out to more events, to socialize and network. We want students to know they are not alone. In addition to that, we work with a broad range of students here at the Bannatyne & St. Boniface campuses: dentistry, medicine, and occupational therapy to name a few. We would very much like to bridge the gaps that occur between the different departments and faculties. Under my leadership I see the HSGSA becoming a central location for students to come for advice, social interaction, and information. 

March 2012

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GSA Elections

Alison Muller Health Sciences GSA Vice President St. Boniface Gemm a M a na nga n

Alison Muller is completing her final year of a Masters in physiology investigating cardiovascular disease. She received a BSc in general biology at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. If she could have dinner with anyone it would be Stephen Fry, for his delightful conversation and access to the best restaurants in the world. Gradzette: Why are you running for this position? Alison Muller : I had so much fun being the rep last year and

found that the majority of students at St. Boniface recognize me as a friendly face when I meander around, poking my nose into other labs.   Gradzette: What is your background in student politics, or related activity? AM: I was previously the representative for St Boniface.

Gradzette: Where do you see the HSGSA headed in 2012-13 under your leadership, should you be elected? AM: I see the Health Sciences GSA as continuing to improving the graduate student experiencing by outfitting our new lounge, improving various events based on prior experience, and most importantly, increasing camaraderie between the graduate students of different faculties at both the Health Sciences Centre and St. Boniface campuses. As my position was created last year, the biggest step in increasing the link between St. Boniface students and Bannatyne students has been made and I see myself as continuing to strengthen the link between the campuses and coming up with events which encourage students from both campuses to hang out together.

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GSA Elections

Forough Khadem Health Sciences GSA Vice President Academics Gemm a M a na nga n

Forough Khadem is a second year PhD student in the department of immunology. She received a BSc from the University of Tehran and MSc in plant biology at Tarbiat Modares University in Iran. In her spare time she enjoys playing chess and cooking. Gradzette: Why are you running for this position? Forough Khadem: As the VP Academics HSGSA candidate I

would like to use my academic and administrative abilities to help out in the HSGSA organization. I am a good team player with considerable leadership skills . . . and also advocate for the graduate students in academic issues. Gradzette: What is your background in student politics, or related activity? FK: All throughout my education from primary school to high school I was the class

representative and also during my undergrad and graduate period I have served as the student representative in different student councils, associations and unions in Iran. I also served as the Graduate Student deputy representative in immunology (2010-11) here at University of Manitoba along side Carolyn Weiss.  Gradzette: Where do you see the HS GSA headed in 2012-13 under your leadership, should you be elected? FK: I think the HSGSA accomplished a lot in the past year and our focus for the coming year will be to maintain momentum, get students more involved in social events that help build their networking skills, and bridge the gaps between academics, grad students and Health Sciences students in a broader view. 

March 2012

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GSA Elections

Rachael Erdmann Health Sciences GSA Vice President External Gemm a M a na nga n

Rachael Erdmann is a second year MSc student in the department of immunology. She received a BSc Honours in immunology and infection at the University of Alberta. If she had the chance she would share a meal with Stephen Fry because she admires his gusto and wealth of knowledge. Gradzette: Why are you running for this position? Rachael Erdmann: I’ve been an active participant in HSGSA

events during my time at the University of Manitoba and I’d like to have an impact on the experience of Health Science students that come after me. I am a very organized person, so I believe I am an excellent fit for a position with major committee and planning components that deals with the external aspects. Gradzette: What is your background in student politics, or related activity? RE: During my undergraduate years I was actively involved in the Immunology and

Infection Student’s Association (IMINSA) and in my fourth year I was elected as the IMINSA social coordinator. Gradzette: Where do you see the HSGSA headed in 2012-13 under your leadership, should you be elected? RE: I want to focus on fostering a sense of community and fellowship among grad students at Bannatyne and St. Boniface campuses by encouraging participation in grad student social events and activities. The executive team from 2011-12 has done an excellent job representing the interests of Health Sciences grad students and I would certainly like to continue their legacy. 

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GSA Elections

Stephanie Chu Health Sciences GSA Vice President Internal Gemm a M a na nga n

Stephanie Chu is in the third year of an MA in pharmacology & therapeutics. She completed her BSc Honours majoring in microbiology at the University of Manitoba. In her spare time she volunteers at the Manitoba Museum and teaches math to grade school kids. Gradzette: Why are you running for this position? Stephanie Chu: I see this position as an opportunity to chal-

lenge my creativity and leadership skills. As a graduate student I would like to see services on the main campus be available to those on the health sciences campus. As VP internal, I would like to improve on graduate student experience by working towards better services and community on the health sciences campus. Gradzette: What is your background in student politics, or related activity? SC: My involvement in student politics hasn’t been very long. When I entered grad

school I became the HSGSA rep for the department. . . . In the last election I was involved with organizing the HSGSA elections as chief returning officer (CRO). Gradzette: Where do you see the HSGSA headed in 2012-13 under your leadership, should you be elected? SC: The current executive has been working with great effort to foster a sense of community among graduate students on the Health Sciences campus. In the upcoming academic year we hope to maintain this and encourage interaction with other health science students and graduate students on Bannatyne and St. Boniface campuses.

March 2012

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Pan-Canadian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada conference A grad student review John Hu

T

he Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada (CDPAC) held its 4th panCanadian conference at the new Delta City Centre in Ottawa Feb. 7 through 10. According to organizers, the conference is designed to “engage a broad range of sectors, disciplines and departments, for more inclusive and effective action on the systemic factors that create health inequities.” While there is currently an absence of infectious disease and global health research, the conference nonetheless brought together an impressive range of interdisciplinary research spanning classical medical sciences, psychology, food security, urban planning, Aboriginal health, among other disciplines. The conference also succeeded in engaging a broad range of sectors, with representatives from the private sector who contributed to lively, heated debates during conference discussions. An exciting aspect of the conference is the significant engagement of the aboriginal community; starting with the blessings and prayers of a female elder, the conference offered aboriginal sessions one after another on “un-surrendered Algonquin territory.” Jam-packed with information sessions, the conference also featured full presentations during breakfast and lunch at the major plenary room. These included presentations from the Mental Health Commission, Canadian Medical Association, and the Pan-American Health Organization. The discussions during the major plenary sessions were eye-opening, with a gamut of stakeholders interchanging honest comments about policy, politics, money and partnerships. Most encouragingly, these discussions about the more practical and darker aspects of public health rested upon a shared value of caring for the most disadvantaged in our society.

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For graduate students, the conference offered no travel support except in the form of cash awards for the top three student posters. All posters were given a chance to shine in the “animated poster sessions” in which authors had three minutes to present and two minutes to answer questions. Unfortunately, this additional opportunity for exposure ran parallel with all regular concurrent sessions which drastically limited to audience — sometimes only to the authors themselves. Graduate students were also given the chance to moderate parallel sessions to further enhance networking opportunities. With regards to budgeting for food, the conference was extravagantly generous with buffet style hot breakfasts, lunches, refreshments every day — including the optional pre-conference sessions — and an evening reception with more than anyone could eat for dinner. The fact that all delegates sat together for two meals per day also meant that networking was naturally facilitated in a good food, good company setting. The conference also featured healthy choices only for their selections; not a single sugar-sweetened beverage was made available, much to the dismay of private sector representatives from the food and beverage industry. Overall, there seemed to be a significant skew in representation of certain types of research. For example: childhood obesity. This may have been a plus for those interested in these areas that received significant attention during the conference in terms of networking. At the same time, with two sessions on childhood obesity running parallel in certain time slots meant that difficult decisions had to be made. Nevertheless, that was the single complaint heard in the hallways over the course of the conference.


March 2012 Gradzette Special double election issue