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Grads and postdocs: get to where you need to go

Concordia's travel funding provides a smoother transition from studies to a research career
May 21, 2014
By Josh Hawley

Conferences and exhibitions play a key role in academic life. And thanks to a university initiative, attendance has become easier for Concordians with professional research aspirations.

The Conference and Exposition Award, which was founded in 2011, offers graduate degree and diploma students, PhD candidates and postdoctoral fellows the funding they need to present their work nationally and internationally.

As Claudia Tocco, assistant director of Graduate Awards, explains, the aim of the award is to ease the the transition from studies to a research career.

“Not only does the financial support provide students and postdocs with an opportunity to network and learn about different practices in their areas of research, but it also helps them get their names out there by presenting their own research,” she says.

The awards normally range from $250 to $1,000. There is no deadline for submissions to the Graduate Awards Office at Concordia’s School of Graduate Studies; the application form is available on the Conference and Travel page.

What’s the experience like? Three conference attendees weigh in. 

Sherin Al-Safadi Sherin Al-Safadi
Sherin Al-Safadi: Neuroscience in D.C.

Sherin Al-Safadi's PhD research focuses on how stress affects human circadian rhythms. The doctoral winner of this year's Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT) received two financial awards.

The first was an all-expenses-paid trip to Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, last month. There, as Concordia’s representative, Al-Safadi placed second at the Eastern Regional Canadian Association of Graduate Studies Competition.

Al-Safadi was also awarded $750 to travel to a conference of her choice. She plans on attending the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington, D.C. later this year.

“It’s one of the world’s largest neuroscience conferences,” she says. “I’ll be able to learn about the most up-to-date research and present my own data.”

Now that she has defended her thesis, Al-Safadi hopes her interest in translational research — turning laboratory molecules into market-ready products — leads to a job in the pharmaceutical or biotech sectors.

“I want to bring my work from the lab to the corporate world.”

Geneviève Moisan Geneviève Moisan
Geneviève Moisan: Craft culture in Mexico

Geneviève Moisan is pursuing Master of Fine Arts in Fibres and Material Practices. Her work explores the value of materiality and digital imaging using the Jacquard loom, a mechanical instrument designed to manufacture textiles with intricate patterns.

With the help of the Conference and Exposition Award, she was able to exhibit her work at the Oaxaca Textile Museum in Oaxaca, Mexico.

“The craft culture is such a part of the everyday for many many people over there,” she says.  “I learned new natural dyeing techniques, and I am now using them in my work.”

Ultimately, Moisan’s trip to Mexico offered an opportunity to share her work while studying that of the artists she encountered. After she graduates this year, she plans to apply for residencies in Mexico and Europe. For now, though, her thesis is her focus.

“I will be weaving and dyeing quite large pieces inspired by different techniques I came across in my studies,” she says.

Emilie Chan-Thim Emilie Chan-Thim
Emilie Chan-Thim: A multidisciplinary experience in San Diego

Emilie Chan-Thim, a PhD candidate in the Individualized Program, has received the Conference and Exposition Award twice.

Last year, the $750 allowed her to travel to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she attended the 2013 American Thoracic Society International Conference. There, she presented her research on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

This week, thanks to another $750, she will head to San Diego, California, for the society’s 2014 conference.

“The event is the perfect fit for me,” she says. “It’s one of the few multidisciplinary gatherings that cover psychology, pulmonary disease and sleep medicine.”

Chan-Thim credits her conference experiences with helping her forge connections that will advance her work.

“The benefits of attending conferences go beyond the classroom. You learn from your peers and supervisors, and accumulate experiences from networking that benefit you academically and even professionally.”

Find out more about Concordia’s Conference and Exposition Award.


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