Awards fuel research abroad for six undergraduates

By Jason Winders
August 28, 2014

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This summer, six Western undergraduate students travelled to China to perform research at local universities as part of the Mitacs Globalink Research Award program.

The program offers Canadian students the opportunity to hone their research skills by collaborating with teams in Brazil, China, France, India, Mexico, Turkey and Vietnam. Western and the University of Montreal tied for most awards received this year.

Attending the program were Western Engineering students Joshua Berza and Darren Nigli, partnering with Tianjin University in Tianjin; Alejandro Carrillo, Nicole Foster and Alexandra Huynh Do, partnering with Zhejiang University of Technology in Hangzhou; and Julian Smith, partnering with East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai.

Western Engineering Professor Jesse Zhu endorsed all six undergraduate students.

“Not only have I been collaborating with some of the brightest minds at Tianjin University on a daily basis,” said Nigli, whose research focuses on treating off-gases from large petrochemical facilities in order to reduce air pollution, “but I have been meeting local people, trying new foods and learning about Chinese culture.

“This placement has been the best combination I could have hopes for.”

Berza echoed those sentiments. “This trip has enriched my university experience by strengthening my technical skills in the lab,” he said. “It has also strengthened my interpersonal skills as I’ve been working with individuals from different cultures.”

 “This has really made my university experience that much more special,” said Smith, whose research focuses on the reaction used when converting coal to useable products and chemicals. “The amount that I have learned in living another place for the past three months will prove to be an invaluable experience.”

To qualify for a Mitacs Globalink Research Award, students submit a research plan for a proposed 12-24-week project. Once approved for funding, they travel to the partner country where they work under the joint supervision of host and home faculty members. The program is open to full-time senior undergraduate or graduate students in all disciplines who are studying at eligible universities.

The Mitacs Globalink Research Award application is now open for current students.


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