Spotlight on Grad Students

Graduate students work hard, make amazing discoveries, and accomplish A LOT during their time at UNB!
We want to hear from you about a talented, deserving graduate student in your life. You can nominate a friend, a coworker, a fellow student, a TA, your labmate… even yourself! Supervisors are welcome to nominate their students as well!

We want to share your story and your research!

Please send an email to with the following information:
Your name
Your email
Nominees name
Nominees email
Why does this grad student deserve to have the spotlight on them?
Can you give us some details about the research or work that this grad student has accomplished during their time at UNB?
What else would you like to tell us?

See you soon (in the spotlight)!


Why is the spotlight shining on Priyanka this month?

As we recently heard, Priyanka deserves to be in the spotlight as a grad student because we think it can help inspire other students to be their best selves. It’s more about shining the spotlight on her work than on herself. She attended UNB in Fall 2018 as an undergraduate exchange student and instantly felt at home. When she was ready to move on to graduate school, she felt UNB was the right fit for her. Once she got accepted into the MSc. Kinesiology research-based program to specialize in Sports Psychology, she was unsure if she would be able to afford it at the time because this was when the COVID-19 pandemic started, and her country, Trinidad and Tobago, was already locked down. This made it very difficult to get a job for her here in Canada.

She was determined to pursue the program, so she worked during the summer before classes started as an online tutor and a personal trainer in her country. During this time, she launched an emotional support platform for individuals struggling with the psychological effects of the covid-19 pandemic, i.e. depression, anxiety, loneliness, stress, etc. This service came at no cost; it was free for anyone to join and get the help they needed. Furthermore, during her first semester at UNB, she has written two books which are scheduled to be published this year, 2021. She is currently mentoring students and athletes by providing guidance for them in their studies and balancing sport with daily life tasks. As a former elite athlete, she says she always wants to share her experience with other students to work hard to achieve their goals.

She had a rough financial journey, but finally, she was able to pay school fees and start her program at UNB. Continuing her program at the UNB she made every effort to bring together new graduate students by creating social media groups where students can communicate with each other regardless of their location. In addition to this, she was very active at the GSA Buddy program for the Winter ’21 semester to help newcomer graduate students to settle in Fredericton and feel welcome at UNB.

Her research is in the field of Sports Psychology. She is currently working on developing her thesis research. In addition to being a full-time research student, she is currently pursuing a Diploma in University Teaching and completing short courses online in other areas within her field to build her knowledge and experience.

She wants all students to know that no matter how tough the situation gets, whether it’s related to health, finances, covid-19, family, no matter what….keep a positive attitude towards the situation, stay strong and keep looking forward! Put your energy into focusing on what you CAN do instead of worrying about what you have no control over…the situation will get better! She encourages anyone to reach out to her if they need support through her website and her youtube channel “Priyanka Dhanie”.

Shelby Martens’ colleague Leanna wrote that as the recipient of a 2020 Joseph-Armand Bombardier SSHRC grant, Ms. Martens examines how Canadian faith-based girls’ groups sought to mold girls into future citizens women from the 1960s to the 1980s. With a previous SSHRC grant, Ms. Martens conducted intergenerational interviews to explore the evolution of women’s roles in labor in agricultural Alberta. Before coming to Fredericton, she received top financial awards at the University of Lethbridge and worked as an oral history researcher at the Galt Museum and Archives. With her commitment to education and oral history, Ms. Martens presented publicly on her research at the university and the museum in Alberta in 2017-2018. In October 2018, she represented UNB by attending the Oral History Association’s annual conference in Salt Lake City. In March 2019, she received second place and the People’s Choice award at UNB’s Three-Minute Thesis competition. Over the course of her learning, she has been an active participant in her field of study, working in agriculture at Kolk Farms, Alberta, and at DoubleOord dairy farms just outside of Fredericton. She excels in historical research and writing. She devotes time to involvement in the UNB and Fredericton communities: she has served as the campus garden coordinator, as the head basketball coach for Fredericton Christian Academy, and as a GEMS teacher for girls at the Fredericton Christian Reformed Church. These roles require tremendous commitment and leadership and advanced skills in communication and developing relationships.

Shelby, we appreciate all the hard work you do for society to make it a better place and for being an inspiration to those around you. Congratulations!


And why is Shravani celebrating the Spotlight this month? “I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate her achievements and success for this last past year and her impact on GSA and making UNB more like a family.”

Shravani is an MBA student at the University of New Brunswick. Beyond her graduate studies, she is also heavily involved in other departments and organizations on campus. She has been working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant with Dr. Lan in Finance, and as an Accounting Assistant in the Office of Research Services. Also, she was recently promoted to the position of Treasurer for the Indian Student Association (UNB ISA). We learned that Shravani loves to work with numbers and has a deep interest in finance, with aspirations to work on Wall Street as a stock trader.

Shravani has made significant contributions to the Graduate Student Association. She currently holds the position of Vice President of Societies and Events and has been an active member of the GSA Executive team! Shravani recently planned the 2020 annual Graduate Research Conference. While the conference was unfortunately cancelled, Shravani deserves to be recognized for the work she did to organize speakers, peer reviewers, and more. Through these difficult times, Shravani remains dedicated to creating fun events for all graduate students. She continues to create inclusive, bonding, and engaging tasks for graduate students, even amidst this pandemic.

Most importantly, she believes in giving back to society and has been associated with a Non-Profit organisation for the last 10 years.

We appreciate all that you do Shravani! Thank you for bringing graduate students together, even when we’re apart.

Why is the spotlight shining on Pascal this month? As we recently heard from his friend David, “Pascal deserves the spotlight for many reasons.”

Pascal’s journey at UNB began with an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering while simultaneously helping UNB win 3 Atlantic University Sport (AUS) championships. After playing professional volleyball and baseball in France for a year, he returned to UNB where he is currently pursuing a Master’s in Technology Management and Entrepreneurship (MTME). He also finds time to help students as a TA for the MTME department and helps students in Quality Management and Project Management. His decision to commit to a 1-year accelerated master’s came from a passion to help people and make an immediate difference.

After seeing firsthand the effects of a brain-related injury on a family member, Pascal made a personal connection and commitment to researching and helping people with Traumatic Brain Injuries. In collaboration with his colleagues, Pascal’s research has resulted in the creation of the new business, Bast Tech. The team at Bast Tech are working on the development of a mouthguard that detects when athletes sustain high impact hits in order to alert trainers of a potential concussion.  The team is also working on an accompanying software that can determine the risk of sustaining a concussion even before you step on the field, ice, or court.

In his spare time, Pascal also plays piano, sings, and helps coach the UNB Volleyball team. As David states, “His passion for learning coupled with his work ethic and organizational skills have helped him constantly improve”.

Thank you for showing great ingenuity and dedication, Pascal!

Why does this grad student deserve to have the spotlight on them? This month, we learned from Doug’s lab mate that he “goes above and beyond his responsibilities as a graduate student researcher, lab mate, TA, and father.”

As a graduate student, Doug is always willing to help and support his peers. He is frequently contacted by others for help with statistics, and if he doesn’t have a solution, he helps find one. As a TA, Doug works hard to provide constructive comments to help students understand difficult concepts and develop their written communication skills. Doug acts as a mentor for many undergraduate students and has given numerous students advice on career development and pursuing graduate studies.

Doug’s research at UNB focuses on the influence of climate, landcover composition, fragmentation, and alternative hosts (ruffed and spruce grouse) on blacklegged tick range expansion in New Brunswick. Doug sampled areas of New Brunswick for ticks that may carry pathogens such as Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease. By sampling tissues from hunter-collected grouse, Doug was able to determine if they had been exposed to pathogenic ticks. Doug works closely with partners to map tick densities across the province and has been able to identify new areas where blacklegged tick populations have become established. Currently, Doug is nearing completion of his Master of Science in Environmental Management degree. Next up, he is continuing at UNB in the Nocera Lab for Forest Wildlife Ecology and Behaviour as a PhD student investigating how winter ticks, climate, and landcover composition are impacting juvenile moose in New Brunswick and Quebec.

In addition to being a hardworking graduate student, Doug is also a dedicated dad to two young boys, Sawyer and Mason. Doug often takes his family outdoors on hikes and adventures. Doug has made the impressive commitment to have his kids spend at least 1,000 hours (3 hours a day) outside and read 2020 books (5.5 books/day) with his wife this year.

When we received Doug’s nomination, we were told that he is admired for being both an outstanding graduate student and a fantastic family man. “Doug frequently goes out of his way to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of his peers and faculty, and it is his turn to be in the spotlight!”

We couldn’t agree more! Congratulations Douglas Munn!

Why does this grad student deserve to have the spotlight on them? As Harsh Jain puts it, “Abdullah is a very hardworking and ambitious grad student. He has won multiple awards and has been featured on multiple media outlets for his previous work in the nonprofit world. But most importantly, he is very humble and kind and that’s why I want to nominate him.”

Abdullah is a UNB student in Technology, Management and Entrepreneurship (TME). In his current program, he is building an emotional intelligence tool. He’s also working with the Career and Employment Centre as a Student Advisor where he conducts workshops across campus to help students with career readiness.

What else can we tell you about Abdullah? “He is a packet full of surprises” says Harsh. Abdullah enjoys meeting people and is a great friend to those around him. He is a traveler and a photographer. “The more you will get to know about him, the more you will get amazed, and that’s why I want to nominate him.”

Thank you Abdullah! Your kindness has touched those around you – congrats on being in the Spotlight!

Why is the spotlight shining on Nur this month? As Jobran Trefis tells us, “Nur should be nominated because of his diverse experiences and caring attitude.”

Nur is a 3rd year PhD student in Chemical Engineering working with a rapidly growing state-of-the-art technology testing healthcare diagnostic device ‘paper-based biosensors’. By applying knowledge from both his background in biology and his current studies in chemical engineering, Nur is well equipped to enhance the future of biosensor sensitivity.

Nur is not only a research student, but also demonstrates a caring nature throughout his dedication to a wide range of other activities. He is a teaching assistant and organizes social activities as the President of the Bangladesh Student Society (BSS) and President of the Muslim Student Association (MSA). Furthermore, he spends his time volunteering for organizations such as Scouts Canada and the Canada Wide Science Fair. As a writer, Nur’s articles have been published in the most visited Bangladeshi and Bengali online news portal, ‘Prothom Alo’, and with the Asian Heritage Society of New Brunswick.

Nur, thanks for being an excellent student and inspiration to those around you! Congratulations!

We asked Barbora Balonova to tell us why she felt Jayden was deserving of this month’s Spotlight: “Graduate school in Chemistry asks a lot of students. It requires them to be teachers, researchers, administrators, writers, and presenters. Jayden is a great graduate student as he works hard to excel at all of these things, in addition to finding time to explore his interest in science art photography, and to lead a balanced life.”

We learned from Barbora and Jayden’s supervisor, Dr. Sara Eisler, that Jayden’s journey as a grad student took a unique turn in the beginning. Initially, Jayden took on a project started by a previous graduate student.

“This is often a difficult task as students who continue projects can often be left in the shadow of the initial researcher. However, within a few weeks of starting graduate studies, it was clear that Jayden not only owned the project completely, he was going to take it to places that weren’t thought of previously.”

Thanks to his strong drive and ambition, Jayden has recently published a paper based on an observation he made about a precursor to a final product. He explored this property in an inventive way, and now we have critical data that will allow us to solve a number of problems in this field of research. His unique vision plus his determination and hard work will continue to result in the creation of beautiful, and colourful, new molecules.

What else should you know about Jayden? “Jayden’s favourite molecule is thiophene”!

Well done Jayden! Your hard work and achievements have inspired those around you!


Why does Oscar deserve to be nominated for the Spotlight? “I think Oscar deserves this spotlight as a thank you and support for the amazing researcher and person he is.”

Oscar is a Master Candidate in the Kinesiology faculty and his research focuses on the challenging topic of cognitive load for prosthesis users.

On top of being an excellent Master student, conducting his research work with both enthusiasm and perseverance, Oscar is very involved in his faculty. He is the President of the Kinesiology Graduate Student Association and he is excellent at keeping a dynamic community of grad students in his faculty. Oscar is also a Teacher Assistant for the Advanced Biomechanics class and daily conveys his knowledge and support to his students. He deeply cares about the well-being of people around him and brightens the day of everyone he meets. Oscar is keen on taking new challenges as the best view comes after the hardest climb!

Thank you Oscar for being an excellent leader and role model to those around you! We can’t wait to see the amazing things you accomplish during your time at UNB and beyond!

Why does this grad student deserve to have the spotlight on them? As we learned from Rajat Sharma, there are many reasons why Rani should be in the spotlight: “Because she is a dexterous and versatile person exhibiting multiple skills.”

Rani is a 2nd year PhD student working on algae and one of life’s most fundamental questions about the transition of unicellular organisms to multicellular life – the true evolution of life!

Rani has been nominated for being an excellent, enthusiastic, and well-rounded individual with many responsibilities. She is the President of the Indian Students Association, the Primary Graduate Student member of Senate, the Health and Safety Rep in the Department of Biology, and a member of NB Immigrant Women’s Association. She has been active and involved since the very first year of her studies at UNB and her multifaceted approach to all things, by prioritizing and balancing, makes her unique and an inspiration to many.

Thank you Rani for the amazing work that you do to make the graduate student experience at UNB enjoyable and inclusive to all!

If you’d like to read more of Rani’s work, we suggest you check out her blog here: Rani is also happy to receive feedback and suggestions, so don’t be shy to reach out!

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