VIU grad accepted straight into PhD program

July 16, 2012 - 7:28am

Bachelor of Science graduate Megan Willis has been awarded a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship valued at $17,500.

Willis will use the national award to go straight into the PhD program at the University of Toronto in September where she’ll pursue studies in environmental chemistry.

Willis graduated from VIU last December with a double minor in Chemistry and Math. Since then, she’s been working as a research assistant in the Applied Environmental Research Lab (AERL) at the Nanaimo campus.

“In addition to her success in the classroom, Megan has made significant contributions in the AERL over a number of years,” said VIU Chemistry Professor Dr. Erik Krogh, her co-supervisor along with Dr. Chris Gill. “She has presented her work at an international chemistry conference and is the lead author on an upcoming research paper.

“Furthermore, she has demonstrated true leadership as the VIU Chemistry Student Club president, a presenter in the public outreach initiative (Awareness of Climate change through Education and Research) and as a regular peer tutor in the Chemistry drop-in help centre.”

While at VIU, she won three prestigious Undergraduate Summer Research Awards from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) which allowed her to work continuous summers in the AERL. Her research focused on how chemical properties of contaminants, like polyaromatic hydrocarbons, affect the environment.

She capped off her undergraduate degree with a $1,000 scholarship from the Association of the Chemical Profession of BC (ACPBC) for outstanding academic achievements and activities in service to the profession of Chemistry.

“I feel extremely fortunate to have completed my undergraduate degree at VIU,” said Willis, who came to her hometown university after graduating from Woodlands Secondary school in Nanaimo. “VIU’s science faculty love teaching. They go out of their way to give students a full and enriching experience.”

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