Faculty of Science

Samantha Wilson receives Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship

September 14, 2015
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Congratulations to Samantha Wilson, a PhD student in SFU's Department of Biological Sciences, who received a prestigious three-year Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship in 2014/15.

Sockeye salmon have always been a major staple in the economy and diet in the Pacific Northwest, particularly for First Nations groups. In some recent years, sockeye salmon runs have been unexpectedly low, leading to unprecedented closures of fisheries.

Samantha Wilson has dedicated her career to researching the causes of these declines, believed in part to result from a changing ocean food web. This research is critical in understanding salmon survival rates and ensuring that sockeye salmon continue to return in numbers to the Fraser and Skeena rivers.

Working with supervisor Dr. Jonathan Moore, Samantha has been able to take part in the Earth-2-Ocean group, a collaborative effort between five different SFU research groups who share a commitment to marine conservation and research excellence. Both of these attributes are clearly demonstrated by Samantha’s appointment as the Vice President of the BC student subunit of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) where she works to connect students in the Lower Mainland. 

Samantha was so successful in these efforts that she was awarded the prestigious International Skinner Memorial Award from the AFS, normally reserved for graduate students, while still completing her undergraduate degree.

Along with an impressive list of awards, including the NSERC Canadian Graduate Scholarship, Samantha has a lengthy publication record. In only three years Samantha has authored or contributed to fourteen publications, with more in the works. All of this was accomplished while working on more than 18 projects within the lab, as well as presenting her findings to the community, volunteering for a program to make science accessible for all youth, and mentoring fellow students.

When asked about receiving the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, Samantha says, "it's exciting to see that people are interested in my research. The award also reflects the amazing support I have received from family, faculty members and collaborators throughout my career.”

As far as paths go, Samantha’s is clear. Through her experiences teaching and mentoring she has been left with no doubts that, “my future career involves running my own research group,” she says. With all that Samantha has accomplished thus far in her career, as well as her commitment to lead others, there is no doubt Samantha will reach her goal of conducting research leading to the creation of sustainable salmon fisheries.

Samantha Wilson is a PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University. She is one of six students at SFU in 2014/15 to receive a Vanier Award, which is granted to graduate students studying in Canada based on their academic excellence, research potential, and leadership contributions.

To find out more or connect with Samantha see:

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