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Trent University Materials Science Ph.D. Candidate Awarded Prestigious NSERC Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship


$150,000 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada grant makes big impact on Ryan Cole’s microscopy research

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Trent University Materials Science Ph.D. candidate Ryan Cole has received a huge boost to his innovative research in the area of physics and astronomy optics as the winner of the 2017 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS), valued at $150,000 over the next three years.

“I am truly honoured to have been awarded such a prestigious scholarship. It will open a whole new level of research for me and provide experiences and opportunities that I will cherish for the rest of my career,” said Mr. Cole, who was awarded the Vanier Scholarship for his academic excellence, research and leadership. “Winning this scholarship is really a dream come true.”

In his research, Mr. Cole uses coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS), an advanced imaging technique to carefully study the appearance, chemical composition and behaviour of living cells at the microscopic level. As this technology is expensive and technically challenging, he is developing a versatile, and more affordable variant of CARS microscopy that will allow more researchers to access its powerful imaging capabilities.

“Trent University has been immensely supportive of my research,” said Mr. Cole who began at Trent in 2009 as an undergraduate in Chemical Physics and Mathematics before moving onto the Materials Science graduate program. “As a graduate student working with Dr. Aaron Slepkov, I have been able to work with state-of-the-art equipment, attend conferences, and share my research with the broader research community. The staff from Trent’s Student Accessibility Services has also been incredibly supportive. I am extremely grateful for everything Trent has done and the experiences and opportunities that made me who I am today.”

“Ryan is an exceptional scholar who is in full control of his own bright future,” states Dr. Aaron Slepkov, associate professor, and Canada research chair in the Physics of Biomaterials. “The department of Physics is proud that he chose us for his undergraduate and graduate education, and we're not surprised that he is garnering these kinds of accolades. We've long known that Ryan exemplifies the attributes most prized by the NSERC Vanier Scholarship program. He is brilliant, independent, and exceedingly hard-working.”

Mr. Cole follows in the footsteps of Theresa Stotesbury who completed a Ph.D. in Materials Science at Trent in 2017. She won the Vanier CGS in 2013 for her work creating a synthetic blood substitute. An event will be held this fall to honour winners that were announced this spring.

Materials Science at Trent University is an exciting, multi-disciplinary field that investigates matter and materials across a broad range of scales, interactions, and applications. From nanotechnology to biomaterials, materials scientists develop new materials and techniques, and improve existing ones. To meet the demand for researchers and scientists in this field, Trent University and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology jointly offer innovative, interdisciplinary M.Sc. and Ph.D. programs, focusing on the fundamental science of materials.

About Trent University

One of Canada's top universities, Trent University was founded on the ideal of interactive learning that's personal, purposeful and transformative. Consistently recognized nationally for leadership in teaching, research and student satisfaction, Trent attracts excellent students from across the country and around the world. Here, undergraduate and graduate students connect and collaborate with faculty, staff and their peers through diverse communities that span residential colleges, classrooms, disciplines, hands-on research, co-curricular and community-based activities. Across all disciplines, Trent brings critical, integrative thinking to life every day. Today, Trent's unique approach to personal development through supportive, collaborative community engagement is in more demand than ever. Students lead the way by co-creating experiences rooted in dialogue, diverse perspectives and collaboration. In a learning environment that builds life-long passion for inclusion, leadership and social change, Trent's students, alumni, faculty and staff are engaged global citizens who are catalysts in developing sustainable solutions to complex issues. Trent's Peterborough campus boasts award-winning architecture in a breathtaking natural setting on the banks of the Otonabee River, just 90 minutes from downtown Toronto, while Trent University Durham – Greater Toronto Area, delivers a distinct mix of programming in the east GTA.

About the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship

The Vanier CGS program was launched in 2008 by the Government of Canada to support students who demonstrate leadership skills and a high standard of scholarly achievement in graduate studies in the social sciences and/or humanities, natural sciences and/or engineering and health. In addition to attracting and retaining world-class doctoral students, the program aims to establish Canada as a global centre of excellence in research and higher learning.



For more information contact:

Kate Weersink, media relations & strategic communications officer, Trent University, (705) 748-1011 x6180 or

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