SFU Mathematics Student Awarded Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship

August 13, 2020

Alexandra Wesolek is no stranger to reading between the lines. The PhD student researches drawings of networks and recently received a 2020 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship to support her work in this area.

“It took me a few days to calm down from my excitement,” says Ms. Wesolek. “This scholarship means freedom on many levels. I have the time to devote myself to research [and] be involved in social projects … [It’s] an academic dream come true.”

Ms. Wesolek’s current project investigates spherical depictions of networks. Disciplines such as computing science and chemistry visualize networks in order to identify patterns or connections. Numerous overlapping lines, however, may interfere with analyses of such networks.

“Our goal is to … connect any two objects by their shortest path on the surface of the ball,” says Ms. Wesolek. “Using the ball as a mathematical tool allows us to study drawings as mathematical objects [and] combine analysis, probability and geometry to gain new insights in the area.”

Vanier Scholars receive $150,000 over three years in support of their research. Less than 170 doctoral candidates are selected annually for their outstanding scholarship and leadership.

“From my collaboration with her I can confess that she is very smart, has original ideas and good knowledge of the subject,” says Dr. Bojan Mohar, Ms. Wesolek’s supervisor. “But she is also hardworking and extremely well motivated. [She has] all that is needed for a successful academic career.”

The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship program involves a rigorous application process. Ms. Wesolek encourages candidates to view this process as an opportunity for present and future self-reflection.

“Think about what you have done and are planning to do to live your passions. It will lead you through writing the application,” says Ms. Wesolek. “You will also appreciate reading your application in a few years [to see] if you followed your plans and [reflect on] how much you have changed throughout the years.”

Wondering about your eligibility for the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships? Check out the guidelines and deadlines for the 2020-2021 competition here.