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Congratulations to MSc student Suzanne Gomes, winner of the Julie Payette Research Scholarship.

Graduate Studies


Suzanne GomesThe Faculty of Graduate Studies would like to congratulate MSc in BioScience, Technology and Public Policy student Suzanne Gomes for winning a Julie Payette Research Scholarship for the 2013-2014 Academic year. These scholarships are offered to the best PGS M candidates reviewed by the ten discipline-based Scholarships and Fellowships selection committees. Winners are chosen for their outstanding academic excellence, research ability and potential, and leadership and communication skills. These scholarships are valued at $25,000 per year for one year. More information on this award can be found here.

Research supervisor Dr. Alberto Civetta on Suzanne’s accomplishment: “Suzanne has already shown outstanding potential in her research work and academic performance. I am thrilled to have Suzanne working in my lab and grateful to NSERC for awarding her one of the twenty four very prestigious Julie Payette postgraduate scholarships.” Gomes won this award for her research with Dr. Civetta on the following project:

A central question in biology is how species diversify and remain isolated from each other. A common
form of isolation between biological species is male progeny sterility. It has been proposed that genes controlling sperm development (spermatogenesis) should be directly connected to sterility between species. Studies of gene expression have provided some support for this hypothesis; however an alternative explanation is the faster evolution of spermatogenesis gene regulatory elements. If regulatory elements controlling the expression of spermatogenesis genes change quickly between species, bringing the two genomes together in a hybrid can lead to problems in gene expression independently of sterility. To test the hypothesis that fast evolution of spermatogenesis gene regulatory elements between species causes gene expression defects in hybrids, I will study gene expression in species pairs in which hybrid male sterility occurs only in one direction of the parental species cross. Under the fast male hypothesis, both hybrids (sterile and fertile) should show gene expression defects driven by regulatory incompatibilities. I plan to expand the analysis of gene expression in sterile hybrids from a gene-based to a genome-based approach. The use of parental species and fertile hybrids will allow me to use a subtractive approach to identify genomic changes unique to sterile males, and thus more likely to be directly linked to sterility.

Suzanne Gomes

“I'd like to thank NSERC for this award, which will allow me to concentrate on working on my research project. Their support at both the undergrad and graduate levels has been a huge benefit to me, allowing me to gain lab experience and develop as a researcher” says Gomes.