Three Perimeter PhD students earn Vanier scholarships

The prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships award $150,000 to students who show exceptional research and leadership potential.

Perimeter PhD students Jacqueline (Jackie) Caminiti, Caroline Lima, and James Munday are among the future scientific leaders to be awarded the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships.

Each will receive $50,000 per year for three years to pursue research and training at the forefront of theoretical physics.

All three of Perimeter’s awardees are alumni of Perimeter Scholars International (PSI), the Institute’s master’s-level program run in partnership with the University of Waterloo. The awards provide recipients with the means to cover the costs of conferences, workshops, and international collaborations.

Administered by the Vanier-Banting Secretariat on behalf of Canada’s three granting agencies – the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) – the Vanier scholarship aims to support Canada’s most promising scientists at the beginnings of their careers.

“The scholarship means a lot because it gives me time and freedom to focus on research, and also the opportunity to travel for collaborations and conferences,” said Caminiti, whose research focuses on quantum gravity – the quest to reconcile the theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics. She believes answers may lie within novel approaches to holographic theory, which proposes that information in a 3D region of space can be encoded on a 2D surface.

Caminiti expressed gratitude to her peers, family, and mentors – in Toronto, at Berkeley, and now at Perimeter – and promised to “continue working very hard to deserve this great opportunity.”

Munday, an alum of the 2022/23 PSI class whose current PhD work investigates the interplay of mathematics and physics, said receiving the Vanier scholarship “feels like the culmination of years of hard work.”

Munday grew up in Nova Scotia and is now earning a PhD jointly at the University of Toronto and as a PhD student at Perimeter, supervised by Kevin Costello, the Krembil William Rowan Hamilton Chair in Theoretical Physics at Perimeter.

“I am extremely grateful to everyone who helped get me here,” he said.

For Lima, who grew up in a small Brazilian town and moved to Canada in 2021 to attend PSI, earning a Vanier scholarship is validation of both her research and her efforts to promote equity and diversity in science.

“What excites me most is that Vanier shares my values and recognizes me as a whole person,” said Lima, whose research examines how quantum information can enhance our understanding of gravity and quantum mechanics. “It was gratifying to see my EDI efforts acknowledged alongside my academic achievements and be valued as a whole person.”

“Jackie, James, and Caroline are brilliant emerging scientists who exemplify the curiosity and drive that the Vanier scholarships were created to support,” said Maïté Dupuis, Perimeter’s Director of Training, Educational Outreach, and Scientific Programs. “I can’t wait to see what they do next.”

About PI

Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement. 

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