Three Western graduates are among the recipients of this year’s Governor General’s Academic Medals. Since 1873, the awards have recognized outstanding students across Canada.
Western PhD graduates Brianne Bruijns, Jaky Kueper, and Chloe Lau have received the Gold Medal, awarded for academic excellence at the graduate level.
Bruijns completed her PhD in the health and rehabilitation sciences program in December 2021. Her PhD thesis entailed developing and pilot testing an e-learning course in physical activity and sedentary behaviour for pre- and in-service early childhood educators. This undertaking included consulting experts to establish e-learning course content, then creating course content including slide text, design, and voiceover, and working with an e-learning company to produce the final product.
Bruijns then oversaw the pilot implementation and evaluation of the course in three Canadian colleges, and with 121 practicing educators. Her work with Trish Tucker was supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Canada Graduate Scholarship and was recognized with the North American Society for Pediatric Exercise Medicine Marco Cabrera Student Research Award. During her graduate studies, Bruijns published 18 articles in peer-reviewed journals which have resulted in international collaborative research projects with colleagues in Australia.
Bruijns currently serves as a grants officer for the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and is an adjunct professor in the Child Health and Physical Activity Lab at Western.
Kueper completed her combined PhD in epidemiology and computer science in July of 2022. Her doctoral thesis is a broad and deep investigation of how artificial intelligence and machine learning methodology can be applied in primary health-care research and practice.
By characterizing existing AI and primary health care research, and by developing and applying AI methods herself, she demonstrated how these methods can both describe the health of primary care populations and support primary care decisions. Her work created new knowledge for the Alliance for Healthier Communities about the challenges and needs of their client population by characterizing multimorbidity, health-care utilization, and risk of social isolation and loneliness.
Her work with Dan Lizotte was supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Banting and Best Doctoral Fellowship, and she was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology. During her PhD studies, she also served as the TechForward Fellow in AI with the College of Family Physicians of Canada, working to bridge the disciplines of artificial intelligence and primary care across the country.
Kueper is currently continuing her research at Western as a postdoctoral associate in the department of computer science.
Lau completed her PhD in the department of psychology in October 2022. Her PhD thesis with eight peer-reviewed publications, supervisedby D.H. Saklofske, examined present state and general over-time levels of cheerfulness across different languages and cultures. The SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGSD), Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS), Mitacs Research Training Award and Canadian Psychological Association Student Research Grant supported her research emphasizing positive psychology.
Lau’s publications include 38 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and over 40 symposia/poster conference presentations. The SSHRC Michael Smith Foreign Supplement and ThinkSwiss Scholarship funded her research with Professor W. Ruch, University of Zurich. The Mitacs Globalink Research Award and Mary Ann Underwood Small Global Opportunities Award aided research with Professor F. Chiesi, University of Florence.
Lau is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health at the University of Toronto, funded by CIHR, Mitacs and Mental Health Research Canada, and is focused on designing a machine learning algorithm to detect suicide risk in youth.