Honour’s and Graduate Student Scholarship Supporting student research on Lake Winnipeg

Dr. G. H. Lawler Memorial  Scholarship

In 2011/12, the Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium Inc. (LWRC) established an Honours and Graduate Student Scholarship to encourage and promote research initiatives by young scientists on Lake Winnipeg. In 2019, it was renamed the Dr. G. H. Lawler Memorial Scholarship after founding director Dr. Herb Lawler who passed away in May.  

A generous initial contribution of $20,000 over five years by the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU) allowed the establishment of the fund. Subsequent smaller contributions have helped maintain the fund, including one contribution of note by 19-year-old University of Toronto student Erik Friesen.  

In 2012, Erik undertook a 475 km fundraising bike ride called the Water Cycle in support of the scholarship fund. Erik rode from the headwaters of the Red River in Minnesota to Winnipeg without stopping, except for the usual types of breaks. Exhausted after riding for nearly 24 hours, Erik muttered, “it was easier on paper.” Despite the pain, Erik raised $3,000 – and for that, we are extremely grateful – even more so in knowing that young adults like Erik care deeply about the future of Lake Winnipeg.   

What is the value of the scholarship?
A maximum of $5,000 will be offered between one or more students.  

Who can apply?  
The LWRC Scholarship is open to honours and graduate students who are enrolled full-time at a Canadian university and have achieved a minimum grade point average of 3.0.  

What are the selection criteria? 
Recipients will be selected based on project merit with consideration also given to academic standing and financial need.  

How can funds be used?  
The LWRC student scholarship may be used to defray costs associated with attending conferences, stipend support, and the purchase of supplies and equipment required to carry out research projects. 

Application Procedure 
Submit a completed application form (see below), cover letter, one letter of support, and a recent transcript by email. Confirmation of receipt will be sent to all applicants; however, only scholarship recipients will be notified of their award. 

Scholarship Recipients

2019 – 2020 

Matthew Thorstensen
University of Manitoba
Matt is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biological Science. His research looks at the population structure and body condition of walleye (pickerel) in Lake Winnipeg using RNA sequencing approaches combined with physiological, ecological, and environmental data. The $3,825 that Matt received from the Scholarship will be used to cover the cost of the open access fee for one of Matt’s publications in the journal Evolutionary Applications.

2018 – 2019 (two recipients)

Nicole Turner
Lakehead University
Nicole’s thesis is focused on evaluating movement patterns of walleye in Lake Winnipeg by using previously unpublished provincial tagging and fisheries-based recapture data from the 1950s and 1970s, as well as current data derived from an acoustic telemetry study conducted by scientists from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Combined, these datasets will help evaluate historical rates of exchange between north and south basin walleye, differences in movement rates between dwarf and normal walleye strains, and temporal changes in distribution ranges of walleye. Ultimately, assessing temporal changes and contemporary movement patterns of walleye will help inform current fisheries management practices in Lake Winnipeg. Nicole received $2,500 to assist with costs associated with the 2019 field season and conference travel. 

Rachel Mandrak
University of Manitoba
The objectives of Rachel’s research include (1) constructing a methane budget by estimating the air-sea methane fluxes during the ice-free season; (2) quantifying where the methane is originating from, whether it is of pelagic, littoral or benthic origin; and (3) identifying relationships between methane concentrations and other factors such as the extent of anoxic conditions and the presence of methanogenic organisms, among others. Methane is an important greenhouse gas.Rachel rceived $1,500 to help defray costs associated with conference travel. 

2017 – 2018

Masoud Goharrokhi
University of Manitoba
Masoud’s Ph.D. research involved using “sediment fingerprinting” to determine the sources and movement of suspended sediment within Lake Winnipeg – including erosion, tributary inflows, and resuspension – as well as establishing the relative contributions being exported from Lake Winnipeg to the Nelson River. Masoud received $3,000 in support of this work.

2016 – 2017

Shawna Philpott
Brandon University
Shawna’s project aimed to bridge conservation biology and community education for the management of the endangered eastern tiger salamander. Intensive land use and wetland drainage have contributed to the decline of this rare animal, which resides only within the the Red River Valley. Shawn received $2,000 in stipend support.  

2015 – 2016 

No recipient 

2014 – 2015

Johanna Theroux
University of Manitoba
Johanna received $1,500 to help offset costs associated with presenting her findings to community members at Norway House Cree Nation. Her community-based Master’s project involved identifying suspended sediment sources in order to better characterize its impact on the community’s drinking water.  

2013 – 2014

Marianne Geisler
University of Manitoba
Marianne received $2,500 to help cover costs associated with attending a conference to present her research findings from her project entitled “Forecasting the potential effects of invasive dreissenid mussels on habitat occupancy & production of walleye (Sander vitreus) in Manitoban & northwestern Ontarian lakes”. This research involved the development of a thermal-optical model to predict the potential effects of dreissenid mussels, including the zebra mussel, on walleye.

2012 – 2013

Matthew Bryan
University of Manitoba
Matthew received $1,500 toward conference travel to present his project “Differentiating the impacts of cyanobacteria from cyanotoxins on Lake Winnipeg invertebrates”. 

Ivana Lung
University of Guelph
Ivana received $2,000 to present her findings at a conference. Her project “Examining the water quality effects of land management practices”, aimed to assess the nutrient and sediment runoff associated with multiple BMPs.