Matthew Noestheden was able to develop a new test that would detect wildfire-tainted wine grapes and will ultimately be able to continue his graduate student work through a new scholarship fund. (Black Press files)

New scholarships available for grad students in B.C.

Students across British Columbia who are currently enrolled in graduate-level degree programs at the University of British Columbia (UBC) will soon be able to devote more time, energy and focus towards research and innovation.

According to a news release issued by the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, these graduate students will benefit from a new $6 million scholarship fund, which is also set to recruit and retain the province’s brightest graduate-level minds.

“Graduate students at UBC are pushing the boundaries of research, while improving the quality of life for all British Columbians,” said Melanie Mark, the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “This long overdue investment in scholarships will help recruit and retain more graduate talent, so we can build the best B.C. for everyone.”

Per information provided by the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, the graduate student scholarship funding will be distributed by the provincial government on a merit-based system, while being administered by the UBC.

In turn, this will allow 400 individual awards of $15,000 each available for eligible domestic students. Santa Ono, the president and vice-chancellor of the University of British Columbia states that these new scholarships will ensure that the best and brightest at the university will be able to excel.

“Graduate-level research pushes the boundaries of human knowledge,” said Ono. “UBC’s position as one of the top research universities in the world is due in large part to the talent of its masters and doctoral students at both UBC campuses. These scholarships encourage our most innovative and creative researchers to excel without limits.”

Furthermore, the UBC is reportedly leveraging this new provincial funding to encourage future and existing donors to support graduate students. Accordingly, donors will be invited, under the UBC’s Blue & Gold fundraising campaign, to add to their own donations to benefit graduate students across the province.

“The University of British Columbia is an integral partner in developing the highly skilled graduates, and research, that our tech and innovation sector relies on to continue thriving and expanding B.C.’s economy,” said Bruce Ralston, the Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. “Our $6-million scholarship investment will directly help grad students, so they can spend more energy focused on their innovative research.”

Further information in the news release states that the graduate scholarships are entirely research focused, with a reported emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The scholarships are also being opened to graduate studies pertaining to professional, regional and Indigenous programs.

Matthew Noestheden, a UBC Okanagan PhD student, states that this new scholarship investment will not only benefit the graduate students’ research and innovation, but the entire province of British Columbia, as well.

“I’ve always been passionate about applied research, but without the support of graduate-funding agencies, the financial realities of supporting a young family would have precluded this opportunity for me to pursue postgraduate education,” said Noestheden. “The creation of a scholarship fund specifically for graduate students in B.C. is exciting, since it will help recruit talented young researchers, which is critical to the ability of academic institutions to address current and future socio-economic and scientific challenges relevant to the province.”

In lieu of the 2018 wildfire season that is effecting B.C. communities across the province, Noestheden was able to develop a new test that would detect wildfire-tainted wine grapes. Ultimately, this gave wine producers a better opportunity to manage their crops during the wildfire seasons.

With nearly 16,000 domestic students enrolled in graduate degree programs at the 10 public post-secondary institutions in B.C., the Provincial Government believes that the scholarships reflect B.C.’s commitment to a true, lasting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples across the province.

By implementing regulations made by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, eligible Indigenous graduate students will also be supported in the graduate student scholarship program.

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