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REF NO.: 173

SUBJECT: Memorial University neuroscience student now Oxford bound

DATE: March 2

Behavioural neuroscience honours student Kerry Walker has been awarded the Rothermere Fellowship for 2004. The award is one of the top graduate awards at Memorial and offers the opportunity for a student to continue their studies in the United Kingdom.

Ms. Walker, originally from Norris Arm South, Newfoundland and Labrador, completed a B.Sc. (hons.) at Memorial in 2002. Currently she is working toward her M.Sc. in neuroscience at Dalhousie, investigating the temporal processing theory which proposes a relationship between basic auditory perception and language development.

Ms. Walker will begin doctoral studies at Oxford beginning in October 2004, where she will continue to examine auditory neuroscience, more specifically electrophysiological studies of the auditory systems in animals.

During her time as an undergrad, Ms. Walker received summer awards from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council for three consecutive years, the maximum allowed, beginning in 1999 under the supervision of Dr. Gerard Martin, of Memorial's Department of Psychology, and then again in 2000-2001 under Dr. Darlene Skinner, also in the Department of Psychology. Other awards include the Abitibi Consolidated Undergraduate Scholarship, Atlantic Accord Offshore Development Scholarship, Killam Predoctoral Scholarship, and the Donald Hebb Graduate Prize.

While at Memorial, Ms. Walker worked closely with Dr. Skinner researching spatial learning in rodents. Of particular interest was how animals navigate their environment, and more specifically, she explored what types of cues/strategies they use to locate a hidden object. During this time, Ms. Walker co-authored a paper with both Drs. Skinner and Martin and attended the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in 2002, where she completed a presentation of her work.

"Memorial is an excellent institution in terms of research, undergraduate programs and teaching," Ms. Walker said. "The university offered me generous scholarship funding and I received a well-rounded undergraduate degree, along with plenty of hands-on research experience." Ms. Walker says her degree will be directly relevant to her future plans of becoming a post-secondary neuroscience professor and remaining active in both teaching and research.

"Kerry is an exceptional student," said Dr. Skinner, who also supervised Ms. Walker's honours dissertation work. "In addition to the fact that she is kind-natured, her grades are excellent, her work ethic unmatched and her ability to cope under pressure is admirable." Dr. Skinner has no doubts that Ms. Walker will be successful in her doctoral studies and have an exceptional career, noting that when she wants something, she does her best to get it and usually succeeds.

The Rothermere Fellowship is one of the top graduate awards offered to graduates of Memorial University. The fellowship currently valued at 7,000 (approximately $15,000), plus college fees per annum, was established to aid and encourage students who have taken their first degree at Memorial University of Newfoundland to pursue their studies for a higher degree at a university of their choice in the United Kingdom.

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