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REF NO.: 145

SUBJECT: Physics PhD student wins prestigious Vanier Scholarship
DATE: May 1, 2009

Ping Lu, a PhD candidate from Memorial’s Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, has been chosen one of the first recipients of the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, a prestigious doctoral scholarship valued at $50,000 per year for up to three years.

The scholarship was announced yesterday by Gary Goodyear, minister of state (science and technology). Mr. Lu was one of 55 recipients chosen by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), one of three federal research granting agencies responsible for the administration of the award. A total of 166 scholarships will be awarded this year.

The scholarship is awarded to doctoral students who have demonstrated strong leadership skills and a high standard of scholarly achievement in graduate studies in the social sciences and humanities, natural sciences and engineering, and health. The decision was based on Mr. Lu’s record of academic excellence, research potential and communication, interpersonal and leadership abilities.

“It is a very generous award. I am very excited,” Mr. Lu said. “I am the only student who received this award at Memorial so it is a great honour.”

Mr. Lu is from Dalian, China, and received his bachelor of science degree from Jilin University in 2003. He completed his master of science program in the area of condensed matter physics at Memorial in 2007, and his currently working on his PhD under the supervision of Dr. Qiying Chen. The title of his proposed research is microstructures in optical fibres and their applications. As he only has two years remaining in his degree, he will receive a total of $100,000 over two years, although he can apply for a supplement.

Dr. Chen said the pair have been focused on fibre bragg gratings and their sensing applications.

“It is a microstructure imbedded inside the fiber which can be used as an environmental sensor,” explained Dr. Chen. “It is very impressive work and we have published 10 articles in top journals over the last year. I think, in part, that may have been why he was selected for the Vanier Scholarship.”

Their future work together will take a slightly different path, combining two tools an ultrafast laser with a near field optical microscope to make small features inside the fibres, which may have uses in nanotechnology and the making of very small machines.

“The federal government’s commitment to excellence in research and innovation is very welcome,” said Dr. Eddy Campbell, Memorial’s acting president.  “Our ability to help grow a strong and vibrant province, and have an impact both nationally and internationally, is greatly enhanced by recent new investments.  The federal government seems to ‘get it’, increasingly recognizing the importance of people and infrastructure in building a leading economy.  I hope and expect that the critical need for operating funds to support these new investments in excellent facilities and creative and ingenious minds will be recognized in the next budget cycle.”

“The Government of Canada recognizes the important role that research excellence plays in furthering innovation and competitiveness in addition to stimulating our economy,” said minister Goodyear.  “The recipients of these scholarships are the world’s leading doctoral students and the next generation of researchers, professors and industry leaders who will make considerable economic and social contributions in Canada and abroad. As evidenced through this program, Canada is a magnet for top intellectual talent and a global centre of excellence in university education and research.”

The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships program was launched by the Government of Canada in Budget 2008, with an initial $25 million investment. When fully operational, the program will support 500 graduate students per year. Both Canadian and international students are eligible to be nominated for a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship.

Of the 166 awards, 129 scholarships will go to Canadian students pursuing doctoral studies while 37 will be given to international students pursuing doctoral studies at Canadian universities.

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