Tomlinson Scholars

The Richard H. Tomlinson Fellowship aims to attract high-caliber doctoral students in any discipline at McGill. The Tomlinson Doctoral Fellowships are worth $35,000/year for up to 3 years, making this one of the most prestigious fellowships programs in Canada and a significant contribution to recruiting and supporting exceptional graduate students at McGill. Read more on what it means to be a Tomlinson Scholar. More information about the fellowships are available here.

2023-2024 Scholars

Andrea Corral Rodriguez, Social Work

Andrea Corral Rodríguez Tomlinson recipient 2023-24Andrea Corral Rodríguez is an incoming Ph.D. student in the School of Social Work, supervised by Dr. Régine Débrosse. Andrea earned her Master of Social Work degree at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2023, where she served students in various capacities as an academic advisor, practicum counselor, and supported the Undocumented Student Program.

Andrea is interested in understanding the unique characteristics and needs of immigrants with precarious status in Canada, with interests in trauma and identity. She is interested in addressing the paucity of research for these immigrant communities as well as applying her findings to advance immigration-related practices and policies.

Andrea is thankful to be a recipient of the 2023-2024 Richard H. Tomlinson Doctoral Fellowship, which will generously support her evidence-based efforts to advocate for the welfare of immigrants. Originally from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, she is honoured to be part of the research community at McGill University.

B. Parazin, Earth and Planetary Science

B. Parazin Tomlinson Scholar 2023-24B. Parazin is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at McGill University working under the supervision of Dr. Natalya Gomez. Their research will focus on the interactions between ice sheet melting, sea level rise, and climate change as well as on model development. Complex climate, ice sheet and sea level models are used to predict how Earth’s climate will change over the 21st century, however, due to the high computational cost of simulations, these three systems are often considered and modeled separately. This can introduce significant bias and uncertainty into future predictions, as there are several important interactions between these systems that are poorly captured by this approach. B.’s work will be on bridging the gap between these three fields through the development of a whole-Earth coupled climate, ice sheet and sea level model.

This model will first be used to simulate previous interglacial periods, to put constraints on the greatest rates and magnitudes of ice sheet melting seen in Earth’s recent geologic past, and then will be turned to Earth’s future. With this model, they will similarly predict the future rate of ice sheet melting, predict future magnitude and distribution of sea level rise and identify any thresholds for climate tipping points like the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet.

B. Is honored to be a recipient of the 2023-2024 Tomlinson Doctoral Fellowship. This funding will prove invaluable in supporting their research on how to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Camille Simone Zolopa, Educational and Counselling Psychology

Camille Simone Zolopa, Tomlinson Scholar 2023-24Camille Simone Zolopa is a first year doctoral student in Counselling Psychology under the supervision of Dr Dennis Wendt. She is happy to return to her undergraduate alma mater following a Master's degree in Clinical Research Methods at Fordham University in New York City, supervised by Dr Andrew Rasmussen.

Camille's research interests lie at the intersection of cultural-clinical and health psychologies. Her proposed project aims to elucidate the usage of harm reduction and other supportive services by First Nations and Inuit people living in Montréal by conducting qualitative interviews with people who use drugs and care providers. Gaining insight into current usage will reveal affordances and barriers to service access, hopefully allowing for the targeting of outreach and the tailoring of offerings.

Camille is honoured by and grateful for the support of the Richard H. Tomlinson Fellowship as she undertakes this research project.

Camilo Mireles, Anthropology

Camilo Mireles - Tomlinson recipient 2023-24Camilo Mireles is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology at McGill University. His project explores the identity and ideological practices of ordinary people from Mexico before and after the arrival of the Spaniards. In specific, it investigates how landscape, houses, and the use of domestic space were reinterpreted as a form of identity negotiation, in a process of adaptation, resistance, and innovation within large-scale social, political, and economic changes. The study attempts to go beyond an androcentric and colonialist view of reality by combining the descendant community's interests in their past and their traditional knowledge with different research techniques from archaeology, anthropology, and history. This way, the descendent community will play an active role in the investigation process, while we get a better understanding of how the free will of people and the vitality of things and other-than-human entities can shape the relationship between cultural change and people’s identity.

A community-engaged collaborative project like this one, calls for an archaeology with people and for people. At the same time, it highlights the social dimension of broad economic and political processes. Camilo is honored to receive the Richard H. Tomlinson Doctoral Fellowship, which will contribute significantly to his goal. Likewise, he is grateful for being able to conduct his research as a part of the McGill community.

Feikai Lin, Integrated Program in Neuroscience

Feikai Lin, Tomlinson Scholar 2023-24Feikai Lin is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Integrated Program in Neuroscience under the supervision of Dr. Mark Brandon. She did her master’s study on human visual memory with Dr. Michael Bonner at JHU Cognitive Science. Then she worked as a RA in Dr. Chun Xu’s lab at the Institute of Neuroscience CAS, where she explored hippocampal coding of contexts and spaces with electrophysiology and optogenetics. From these experiences, she found her interest in neural coding for spatial navigation at cells and circuit levels. Although scientists have characterized the properties of head-direction cells, one of the neural bases for spatial navigation, the mechanism of representing and updating directions during reorientation is yet fully understood. Previous work in the Brandon lab found the head-direction population activity decreases as animals reorient. Feikai wants to further demystify the brain circuits that regulate this population activity and allow the navigation system to prepare for uncertainty. Specifically, she plans to map the connectivity of cortical and thalamic regions with neuro-anatomical tracing, record head-direction neural activity with calcium imaging while manipulating with optogenetics, and analyze how this activity changes during circuit-specific manipulation and reorientation behavior. This work will also provide insights into Alzheimer's disease pathology as the "sense of direction" is impaired in the early stage of normal aging and AD.

“It is my great honor to receive the Richard H. Tomlinson Doctoral Fellowship. This provides huge support and opportunity for me to fully concentrate on research and build up my knowledge and skills.”

Jingzhi Chen, Philosophy

Jingzhi Chen Tomlinson Fellowship recipientJingzhi is a first-year Ph.D. student in the philosophy department at McGill University. Prior to her study at McGill, she studied legal philosophy at the University of Oxford. During her time there, she was drawn by profound and disquieting philosophical questions and decided to delve deeper into this captivating field.

Broadly speaking, Jingzhi’s interest mainly lies in understanding the relation between self and others. She wonders in what sense our beliefs or actions, which are heavily influenced and shaped by the society we live in, can be considered our own, and what normative implications we can draw from this understanding of human agency. Her research project focuses on a more specific question, which concerns our special obligations, such as those owed to our parents and friends. Those obligations, which require us to treat those people preferentially, may have been taken for granted in the past. However, in modern times where the value of autonomy is highly appreciated, whether and why we have those obligations is not obvious anymore. Some young people argue for their individuality as they grow up and are reluctant to admit that they owe anything special to their elderly parents. Open relationships, which allow people to have two or more romantic or sexual partners, are gradually being accepted and even appraised as a modern form of marriage. Do these shifts amount to a raised awareness of individual freedom, or the erosion of a tradition worth preserving? In Jingzhi’s research, she attempts to approach these questions by asking why we have special obligations and identifying the conditions under which they exist. She hopes to delineate the boundary between autonomy and special relationships, which can help us preserve the value of autonomy without losing the significance of special relationships that they ought to have.

Jingzhi is greatly honored to be awarded the Tomlinson Fellowship. This generous funding support not only enables her to concentrate on her academic research without financial distractions but also inspires her to pay it forward to the McGill community and beyond by producing meaningful research.

Keila Turino Miranda, Kinesiology and Physical Education

Keila Turino Miranda - Tomlinson Scholar 2023-24Keila Turino Miranda is a first-year PhD in Kinesiology Sciences student in the Cardiovascular Health and Autonomic Research Laboratory (CHARLab). As part of her MSc in Medical Science degree, Keila’s dissertation focused on the validation of prediction equations for the estimation of glomerular filtration rate in transgender individuals on gender-affirming hormone therapy. Keila is a champion within the transgender, gender-diverse and non-binary space and holds national leadership positions with Hypertension Canada and CanSOLVE CKD.

Transgender men (individuals assigned female sex at birth who identify as men) on testosterone therapy appear to have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Given that exogenous hormone use (i.e. testosterone) are an integral component of the management of transgender patients, Keila aims to elucidate the effect of testosterone therapy on blood pressure and blood pressure regulatory mechanisms in transgender men. Further, the paucity of literature evaluating the association between polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and cardiovascular health in transgender men makes it difficult to accurately assess the effects of exogenous testosterone on PCOS etiology, disease progression and treatment. Therefore, she also aims to examine the associations between polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and blood pressure outcomes in transgender men on testosterone.

Keila is thrilled and deeply honoured to represent the CHARLab as the recipient of the 2023-24 Tomlinson Doctoral Fellowship. This recognition serves as a testament of her dedication and commitment to academic excellence and research within the transgender, gender-diverse, and non-binary space. The support and resources provided by this fellowship will champion Keila in advancing her doctoral studies and serves as a beacon of encouragement.

Ryan Reffner, Chemistry

Ryan Reffner Tomlinson ScholarRyan Reffner is an incoming doctoral student in the Kambhampati lab within the department of chemistry at McGill University. Having spent much of his undergraduate degree involved in a variety of research projects, he has narrowed his sights toward the field of spectroscopy. The goal of his research is to use ultrafast laser spectroscopy techniques to study the electronic behavior in perovskite nanocrystals.

Perovskites are of wide interest within material science due to their semiconducting properties and solid-liquid duality with higher tolerance towards physical defects, in addition by being a weakly bound ionic solid instead of strongly covalent bound like most semiconductors in use today. The material also shows immense promise for use in green energy photovoltaics, lighting, and display technologies. McGill is a unique institution to study this material because of the resources and equipment available. The university has unique access to three types of state-of-the-art spectroscopic techniques: time resolved photoluminescence, transient absorption, and two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy which will be used to elucidate the electronic behavior of the perovskite nanocrystals.

“I am extremely grateful to McGill University and its generous support through the Richard H. Tomlinson Fellowship. The fellowship will allow me to easily transition into McGill as an international student and start within the lab pursuing research in my field.”

Taylor Shirtliff-Hinds, Biology

Taylor Shirtliff-Hinds Tomlinson Fellowship 2023-2024Originally hailing from Toronto, Taylor Shirtliff-Hinds is a budding neuroscientist and PhD in Biology student in Michael Hendricks’ lab. Her research, made possible by the Tomlinson Fellowship, explores the complexities of coordinated movement by modelling human ataxias in the nematode worm C. elegans. Notably, C. elegans have a simple and mapped nervous system and a short life cycle, which make them especially amenable for neuroscientific research. Additionally, C. elegans can model a wide array of human diseases and can be screened for potential therapeutic drugs that alleviate disease symptoms. Using C. elegans saves time and resources when compared to mammalian models for drug discovery. Accordingly, her research will involve screening thousands of worm mutants for coordination deficits and testing them with libraries of pre-approved drugs to determine which compounds improve motor coordination. In this pursuit, Taylor’s work aids in drug discovery by generating a curated list of potential therapeutic drugs to mitigate ataxia symptoms.

Taylor studied Neuroscience and German in her undergraduate degree at Harvard, and has an MSc in Neuroscience from Oxford. Having lived and worked in Canada, the US, Germany, and the UK, she is excited to open a new chapter of her life in Montreal and continue her research at McGill. Taylor is honoured to receive a Tomlinson Fellowship, and is extremely grateful for the support of the program. Through both successes and setbacks, she embraces the opportunity to evolve as a researcher and contribute meaningfully to the McGill community.

Zhixin (Annie) Zhou, Psychology

Zhixin (Annie) Zhou, Tomlinson scholar 2023-24Zhixin (Annie) is a first-year doctoral student in clinical psychology, supervised by Dr. Anna Weinberg in the Translational Research in Affect and Cognition (TRAC) lab. Having completed her MA degree in clinical psychology at Columbia University, she researched the intergenerational transmission of cognitive control capacity among children at high risk for depression, using electroencephalogram (EEG) and behavioral measures. She will continue her passion for studying risk factors for internalizing disorders (depression and anxiety) among infants and youths.

Specifically, gestation is a critical period of brain development for the fetus, and exposure to high levels of stress can disrupt brain development and increase the risk for future psychopathology. Given the significant and sustained global stressor of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is crucial to elucidate how gestational stress exposure might influence infant brain functioning and the risk for subsequent psychopathology. Ultimately, this research may benefit mothers and children by providing insights for future studies on developing targeted early prevention and intervention strategies.

Annie is honored to receive the Tomlinson Fellowship and is excited to pursue her research at McGill.

Previous Years 2013-2022


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Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, McGill University.

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