Get to know our 2016 Vanier Scholars – Colin Graydon
“Our lab’s tech was sitting in the desk next to me when I read the news, so I jumped up and hugged him. He was very confused. After that, I sent texts to my family and close friends. Many exclamation marks and capital letters were used.”
Colin Graydon’s investigative approach and dedication to research and academia has garnered a lot of attention. He has been incredibly productive with his research in medical microbiology co-authoring seven peer-reviewed publications, two reports published online, and eight poster presentations across Canada. He is one of four U of M students to receive the 2016 Vanier Scholarship.
His doctoral research will investigate how LAG-3, a protein that suppresses certain components of the immune system, blocks the body’s response to diseases. He is studying LAG-3 from the perspective of HIV infection, but what is discovered may have implications in tuberculosis, cancer, autoimmunity, allergy, and vaccine research.
Graydon spoke to UM Today about receiving the Vanier Scholarship.
UM Today: What do you like best about doing your PhD?
Colin Graydon: As a passionate learner, I delight in being immersed in a field as intensely interesting and immensely complex as immunology. My favourite aspect of immunology is its broad nature. I see science as exploration, no different than geographical exploration. The complex and broad nature of immunology leaves so much to be discovered, and many new maps to be drawn. Being a small part of that discovery in a community of explorers is very gratifying.
Being surrounded by this community of brilliant and curious people is another exciting aspect of doing my PhD. I love having discussions with professors and other students about everything from the sociopolitical and economic landscape to ideas about the future of science. These conversations excite me as I gain new perspectives and have my own ideas challenged.
What has been one of your most memorable experiences at the U of M so far?
Many of my most memorable experiences at the U of M have been those conversations I referred to earlier. One that comes to mind is a discussion I had with a mathematician/computer scientist about artificial intelligence and machine learning; but this was just one of many.
How did you feel when you found out you had received the Vanier Scholarship?
A shot of happiness, quickly followed by gratefulness for the incredible people I am surrounded by who continually support me.
Who was the first person you told after finding out you received the Vanier Scholarship? How did they react?
Our lab’s tech was sitting in the desk next to me when I read the news, so I jumped up and hugged him. He was very confused. After that, I sent texts to my family and close friends. Many exclamation marks and capital letters were used.
What keeps you busy when you’re not pursuing your research?
Work as the VP Academic for the Health Sciences Graduate Student Association is quite demanding time-wise. I spend most of my free time with friends. Historically, rugby occupied a lot of my time, but last summer I broke my hand in the first game of the season. This slowed research progress because gloves didn’t fit over my cast, so this year I decided to spend that free time learning guitar.
- Graydon believes in a strong graduate student community and serves as Vice-President, Academic of the Health Sciences Graduate Student Association.
- His impressive volunteer experience includes working as a scout leader, fundraising for a building project in Ecuador, and working on HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C community outreach and knowledge translation with YouthCo (an organization that supports people ages 15-29 living with or affected by HIV/AIDS and/or Hepatitis C).
- His strong academic record with a GPA of 4.20, is supported by a long list of awards, honours and academic funding.