Annual Vanier Graduate Scholarships grant announced for rising PhD students at UBC

The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships, which award students $50,000 a year for three years, are some of the most prestigious in Canada. This year, 21 UBC community members received the scholarship. This makes the university the second-most awarded university in the country after the University of Toronto.

Awarded research scholars have interests spanning all three of the Vanier Scholarship awarding bodies in health research, social sciences, and natural sciences and engineering research. Their areas of research span from optical sensors to machine learning algorithms and grassroots artistic initiatives.

The students are judged based on their academic achievement, research potential and leadership qualities. Six hundred students are granted the prize each year, with general quotas for universities across Canada.

The awards are open to international and domestic students alike. Khadija Anjum, a UBC student beginning her PhD in planning this fall, is originally from Pakistan.

UBC’s wide range of resources on the Global South led her to Vancouver to conduct research on the impact of food price increases on South Asian communities. The Vanier scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) will contribute to her research.

“My workplace interactions with principal investigators from leading policy think tanks made me realize that conducting and leading research at the highest level requires PhD training,” she said in her graduate profile.

Some, on the other hand, were drawn to UBC in part because of its familiarity. For Jacob Stubbs, who studies the role of traumatic brain injury in the health of those experiencing homelessness and precariously housed individuals, staying in the city was one of many draws.

“As a Vancouverite, I was able to stay in this world-class city,” he said in his graduate profile. “The best surprise for me … has been realizing just how many world-class experts and opportunities are either right here or only an introduction away.”

Other recipients are current UBC students, excited to continue their education at the university. Sikander Randhawa, who is continuing into his PhD after two years conducting a masters in computer science, hopes to explore more about machine learning algorithms in his research. He was awarded the Vanier Prize by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

“What you would hope is that someone takes the ideas from your work and uses that as inspiration for something practical, like a new algorithm,” he said to The Ubyssey.

From the beginning of his undergraduate journey at UBC, he has been shaped into the researcher he is through the academic environment of the computer science department.

“I would say that probably three or four years into my undergrad degree, I started to realize that one of the things I enjoy in life is to be able to learn something new every day,” said Randhawaa. “[I appreciate] being in an environment where I’m constantly learning and discussing ideas.”