Graduate student Eno Hysi was sitting in his weekly seminar meeting when he received an email telling him to check the application site ResearchNet.
Hysi had applied five months earlier for a three-year scholarship worth $150,000 to aid him in the pursuit of his doctoral research in Ryerson’s physics department.
He struggled to contain his excitement. His hands trembling.
Once the seminar concluded, he rushed back to his office to check for his password and login.
Not believing it himself, he called in his colleagues to confirm that the message meant what he thought it did.
“Congratulations,” stared back at him from the screen.
“I don’t even remember what happened for the rest of the day,” Hysi said. “It was just a whirlwind left and right.”
The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship is awarded by the federal government annually to 167 doctoral students.
The scholarship was launched in 2008 and aims to “attract and retain world-class doctoral students and establish Canada as a global centre of excellence in research and higher learning,” according to the Government of Canada website.
Merriam Haffar, a doctoral student of environmental applied science and management, is the second Ryerson recipient this year. The award will help fund her research into corporate sustainability and the way companies report on their performance in that regard.
Hysi researches the imaging of blood vessels within cancerous tumours. He explains how in the makeup of normal tissue, the blood vessel structure is very well-organized and follows a particular hierarchy, but inside cancerous tumours, the organization becomes chaotic and the hierarchy is lost.
His research aims to harness the power of photoacoustic imaging to measure the efficacy of cancer treatment.
Sending a laser pulse into tumour tissue generates a sound wave that reveals the structure of blood vessels when mapped. That would allow doctors to monitor the effect of treatment on the tissue.
“If you can predict what is happening immediately after treatment and use that information and all those quantitative measurements, you should be able to then, with some degree of accuracy, say that this treatment will shrink the tumour or this treatment will not,” said Hysi.
The scholarship will indirectly benefit Ryerson, now that the physics department can redirect funds currently supporting his work, Hysi said.
“Receiving these national prestigious awards [helps] Ryerson’s reputation as a research institution,” Hysi said. “It will certainly assist Ryerson in securing more of these funds, because funding agencies tend to keep an eye [out] for people they have funded before and institutions that they have funded in the past.”
Hysi has since moved to St. Michael’s Hospital where he has access to five physics labs and a number of engineering labs under a collaboration with Ryerson called the Institute for Biomedical Engineering, Science and Technology or iBEST.
He said he will use the Vanier prestige to foster new collaborations between the university and the hospital.