University of Manitoba Students Craig Milligan and Nicole Lovat among Trailblazing Recipients of This Year’s Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships

Aug 3, 2011 | Corporate Member News

Canada’s most prestigious scholarships awarded to visionary grad students 

Graduate students at the University of Manitoba are making a name for themselves by tackling some critical issues with the financial support of Canada’s top research award. 

Craig Milligan and Nicole Lovat are among the trailblazing recipients of this year’s Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS). 

Both Milligan and Lovat had their nominations reviewed by multi-disciplinary peer-review committees and a board of Canadian and international experts. They were chosen based on their exceptional leadership skills and high scholarly achievement, both students boasting a GPA of well over 4.0 in their undergraduate and graduate studies.  Among numerous distinctions and awards, Milligan has won a gold medal in civil engineering while Lovat has a patent on file.

A civil engineering graduate student, Milligan is developing tools to evaluate and manage transportation systems in the vast Northern Prairie region of Canada. He will measure the performance of northern roads by gathering data on issues such as infrastructure, condition, safety levels, system reliability, user costs, environmental impacts, and socioeconomic outcomes. This research will be conducted while working with the University of Manitoba Transport Group, an internationally recognized research team. His findings will help develop the tools needed by engineers and planners when making future investment decisions related to transportation systems in Canada’s North. 

Lovat is a pharmacology and therapeutics graduate student, examining the naturally occurring pre-diabetic state experienced during pregnancy. Diabetes is caused by the body’s resistance to insulin, and increases various health risks to both mother and fetus which could include obesity, high blood pressure, blindness, and limb loss. This pre-diabetic state may be related to a hormone called Hepatic Insulin Sensitizing Substance (HISS) and Lovat hopes to better understand HISS by studying animal pregnancies. A new antioxidant cocktail may be able to treat pregnancy-related insulin resistance associated with the hormone, and Lovat’s studies will determine the suitability of a randomized trial in the pregnant population. 

Dr. Digvar Jayas

“The impressive level and scope of this research proves that these students are certainly deserving of this prestigious honor,” said Digvir Jayas, vice-president (research) at the University of Manitoba. “They are well on their way to becoming leaders in their field, and we’re anticipating that even more outstanding work is sure to follow.” 

Milligan and Lovat both share a number of common interests.  Milligan has served as captain of a provincial champion volleyball team while, Lovat has played on the provincial women’s junior handball team. They have both been involved in creating and leading non-profit day camps for underprivileged children, and have served as tutors during their academic careers. While Lovat has established a business as a science tutor, Milligan has a compelling record of significant fundraising for various causes. They are both bilingual in French and English, and Milligan is also currently studying Chinese. 

“I congratulate each of the recipients on this significant achievement,” said Brenda Hann, acting dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies at the University of Manitoba. “These individuals, whom have been recognized as the best and brightest, will go on to have an impact on not only Canada but the world I am sure.” 

Each graduate student will receive $150,000 over the next three years, or $50,000 per year, to fund their research. Administered through Canada’s three research granting agencies (the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada), the Vanier CGS is considered the Canadian equivalent of the U.K.’s Rhodes Scholarship. 

The Vanier CGS program aims to attract and retain world-class doctoral students by supporting their skills and talents. Their ideas have been seen to spark the creation of new products and services that support Canada’s economic competitiveness, sustain the environment and improve our quality of life. 

This year, 167 Vanier scholars were announced at 26 universities, with graduate students from the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa choosing Canadian universities for their doctoral studies. This recent announcement, worth $25 million, brings the total government investment in the program to $75 million. For a complete list of 2011 Vanier scholarship recipients, visit

For more information contact Janine Harasymchuk, manager, research communications & marketing, 204-474-7300.

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