Seven named Ontario Trillium Scholarship winners

Western students Beth Compton, Wilson Higashino, Sviataslau Kohut, Ed Krynak, Qian Liu, Felipe Rodrigues and Omneya El Sharnouby have been named recipients of the 2012 Ontario Trillium Scholarships (OTS). The scholarships aim to raise the profile and prestige of Ontario universities internationally, and increase economic performance by recruiting highly educated individuals to the province.

Trillium scholars are nominated by their graduate program due to their scholarly achievements and strong research potential, and receive $40,000 annually for up to four years of study.

Western’s recipients hail from five different continents and represent nations such as Brazil, China, Egypt, Belarus and the United States.


Beth Compton
PhD candidate, Archaeology

Beth Compton will open the doors of the past to everyone.

Compton’s research explores the social implications of multivocal archaeological management in the Digital Age. Her focus is on developing culturally considerate digital tools relevant to the interests of First Nations communities. This work will help develop more socially responsible archaeological policies that emphasise accessibility of archaeological collections.

“The Sustainable Archaeology project, affiliated with Western, McMaster and the Museum of Ontario Archaeology, is a ground-breaking collaborative initiative that will host state-of-the-art research facilities,” she said. “Western’s active involvement in the project is the primary reason why I chose to attend this university as it provides a truly ideal opportunity to pursue my area of research.”


Wilson Higashino
PhD candidate, Software Engineering

Wilson Higashino is building better communities for tomorrow – today.

His work at Western focuses the development of more sophisticated multi-cloud computing applications. That research will generate results not only at the technology level, but at social and community levels.

Technologically speaking, the development of these methodologies that enable multi-cloud applications can reduce customers’ dependency on a single provider, and improve service quality over time. Additionally, if applied to smart buildings and communities, the technologies will make for more intelligent use of building resources, as well as awareness of cost-effective actions that can be taken to improve consumption efficiency.

“Western has a dual degree agreement with University of Campinas in Brazil, where I have started my PhD degree,” Higashino said. “Additionally, Western’s academic excellence and ‘best student experience’ were of paramount importance in my decision to study here.”


Sviataslau Kohut
PhD candidate, Chemistry

Sviataslau Kohut knows what matters with matter.

Kohut’s thesis explores a new, more accurate approach to computing the structure and dynamics of many-electron systems. His research is purely theoretical, and can be described as a mix of paper-and-pencil derivations, computer programming and calculations.

Kohut’s work, however, will enable other researchers to predict physical and chemical properties of matter, rationally design new materials and understand the behaviour of complex chemical systems by running computer simulations.

“I had visited Western for two months in 2011 as a summer research student and had such a positive experience I decided to come back for more,” Kohut said. “I wished to pursue graduate studies in a vibrant academic environment outside of my native country, and was confident Western would give me this opportunity.”

Ed Krynak
PhD candidate, Geography

Ed Krynak is helping keep an eye on Mother Nature.

As a part of The Yates Lab, affiliated with the University of Calgary, Krynak works to identify benthic macroinvertebrate indicators and associated sampling protocols appropriate for monitoring common stressors within the Grand River Watershed. Funding for this research project comes from the Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada – Canadian Water Network: The Grand River Watershed Consortium.

Krynek has a degree in natural resources from Ohio State University, a masters of arts in teaching from Kent State University and a masters in science from Grand Valley State University. At Grand Valley, he studied aquatic invertebrate assemblages within the most common mesohabitats of a sand dominated stream. Krynek was also a park naturalist for Lake Metroparks in northern Ohio and a high school science teacher for Gateway Alternative School in Caldwell County, N.C.


Qian Liu
PhD candidate, Economics

Having studied the redistribution effects of the individual income tax reform and the effects of Poverty Reduction Program in China, Qian Liu is concerned with ever-increasing income inequality in China. With eyes on improving the situation of the poor, her research focuses on poverty and income distribution in China using microeconometric techniques to evaluate public policies relating to these fields.

“The Department of Economics at Western is known worldwide and is especially famous in the fields of Labor Economics and China’s economy,” she said. “You can always get inspired by the thoughts of excellent professors and fellow students, and it provides rigorous training for students to launch their own research.”


Felipe Rodrigues
PhD candidate, Business Administration

We have been waiting for Felipe Rodrigues for a long time.

His research examines queuing systems in healthcare organizations, attempting to model a patient-flow mathematical system in a way that it allocates enough capacity of the organization’s limited resources while keeping a quality health-care service under reasonable costs. His work will assist health care – and organizations in general – serve their communities more efficiently. Additionally, it will provide insights into queuing theory in systems that encompass phenomena such as tandem stages and blocking.

“Western’s Richard Ivey School of Business is known internationally for its high quality and academic standards,” he said. “I was lucky to find at Ivey the structure, the quality and the faculty that matched my research interests.”


Omneya El Sharnouby
PhD candidate, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Omneya El Sharnouby knows environmental pollution and dwindling energy supplies are pressing challenges facing societies.

Anaerobic treatment of organic wastes can simultaneously resolve these challenges by not only mitigating environmental pollution, but also by producing clean energy in the form of hydrogen and methane. The production of biohydrogen from real wastes is however severely limited by microbial and metabolic shifts, as well as low hydrogen yields and production rates.

El Sharnouby’s research focuses on the development of anaerobic ‘Designer microbial cultures.’ The development of these novel microbial consortia is essential for the significant advancement of both the understanding and practical application of anaerobic treatment processes.

“The Civil and Environmental Engineering program is highly reputable and continuously ranked among Canada’s Top 5 civil and environmental engineering programs. Also, both my parents and my brother obtained their PhD degrees in Engineering from Western, so graduating from here has been always one of my dreams.”