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The 2015 Emerging Leader Award event: Left to right is President David Barnard, Valery Agbor, keynote speaker Kal Barteski , Ella Thomson, Deborah Chan.

Nominations open for the 2016 Emerging Leader Award

November 24, 2015 — 

The Emerging Leader Award is given annually to 75 deserving University of Manitoba students who have made an impact on the university community through their contributions to  social, cultural or economic well-being of communities, while encouraging cross cultural understanding and demonstrating sustained leadership and initiative that is worthy of recognition.

Want to know what it takes to be an emerging leader? Here’s Ella Thomson’s story, one of the 2015 award recipients.

Ella Thomson

Ella Thomson, 2015 Emerging Leader Award recipient. // Photo: Jason Halstead

Ella Thomson, 2015 Emerging Leader Award recipient. // Photo: Jason Halstead

Area of study: Faculty of Engineering, 3rd year
Leadership initiatives include:
U of M Engineering Society; Engineers Without Borders (U of M chapter); Women in Science and Engineering girls science club; UMEarth student group

Accomplishments: Started research work at age 13, began working at St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre in Grade 12

Describe your research.

My research focuses on neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s. I have been working on studying the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease.

You were accepted to Stanford University and the U of M. How did you make your decision?

The U of M provides wonderful opportunities for student research, for example through the undergraduate student research awards, and the poster competition, which I have participated in for two years. I also have many research connections in Manitoba, which I wanted to continue to build on. Although it wasn’t the deciding factor, there are also excellent scholarship opportunities at the university; I received the Schulich Scholarship, and the Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship.

What role has your family played in where you are today?

When I was young, my dad and I spent hours in the kitchen having fun doing science experiments. My parents exposed me to many different opportunities. When we used to travel, we would visit science and technology museums. This started my interest in science at a very young age. In some ways it seemed natural to pursue a degree in this field.

What are you doing when you’re not studying or volunteering?

In my free time I enjoy historical fiction books. I also play tennis and squash, and enjoy spending time with friends.

What novel have you most recently read?

My favourite author is Philippa Gregory. The book I’ve most recently read was The King’s Curse.

Why do you feel it’s important for young girls to be involved in science and engineering? 

It’s the way of the future. Science encourages critical thinking. This is why I work as a coordinator for the Women in Science and Engineering girls club. Each week I plan activities and field trips for girls in Grades 3 to 8 in order to participate in experiments and show them various fields that are available in science and engineering. Through my personal experience, I see how science and engineering have opened many doors for me. It is great to see other girls interested and involved.

Nominations for 2016 Emerging Leader Award are open until January 15. For more information or to nominate someone visit:


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