O'Brien Fellows

2017 O'Brien Fellows

(see previous years recipients)

Emily J. Thomas

2017 emily thomas

Emily Thomas grew up in Fredericton, New Brunswick. After graduating from Fredericton High School, Emily began her Bachelor of Arts at Mount Allison University. She completed her Bachelor of Arts at St. Thomas University in 2014, with Honours in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. Emily developed an interest in researching consent and sexual desire while working with youth at the Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre which led her to pursue an honours thesis with Dr. Monika Stelzl. She continues to collaborate on research with Drs. Monika Stelzl and Michelle Lafrance.

Emily is currently finishing her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology at Ryerson University. She is supervised by Dr. Maria Gurevich, director of the Sexuality Hub: Integrating Feminist Theory (SHiFT) lab. Emily's research is rooted in critical and feminist poststructuralist approaches to exploring sexual identities, negotiations of consent and desire within sexual relationships, and experiences of sexual violence. Her Master’s thesis is supported by a Joseph Armand Bombardier Master’s Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and an Ontario Graduate Scholarship.

Emily has been awarded a Joseph Armand Bombardier Doctoral Scholarship from SSHRC to pursue her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology at Ryerson University this fall. Emily is honoured to receive additional support from the O’Brien Foundation.


Alexander D. Maxan

2017 alex maxanAlexander was raised in the town of Quispamsis, outside of Saint John, New Brunswick by his parents Dwight and Doreen Maxan. Alexander had always enjoyed studying science and by high school had developed a strong admiration for biology. He left home to pursue a Bachelor of Science Degree with a major in Microbiology and Immunology at Dalhouside University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He spent much of his time working in the research lab of Dr. Chiristian Lehmann studying sepsis and septic shock. He was listed as an author on three publications in scientific journals before the end of his undergraduate degree. In April of 2015, he made the move to Québec City where he started his Master’s degree in Neurobiology at Université Laval under the supervision of Dr. Francesca Cicchetti.  Alexander’s beginnings in the program were well recognized by the university and he was awarded the “Bourse de recrutement à la maîtrise fonds Wilbrod-Bhérer” as one of the top recruits in the program. His research on mutant huntingtin and it’s implications for other neurodegenerative disorders of the CNS was found to be exciting and exceptional and he was granted an accelerated passage to the PhD program in September of 2016. Alexander has presented his research at a number of local and international conferences. His achievements have not gone unrecognized and he has recently been awarded a doctoral training award from the Fonds de Recherche Santé Québec (FRQS).

In addition to his research accomplishments, Alexander has remained extremely active in the community and has volunteered at the Canadian Cancer Society, IWK foundation, and also helped coach a local youth competitive hockey team. He is extremely passionate about his studies on neurodegenerative disorders and hopes to continue his research in this field upon graduation. He dreams of returning to New Brunswick with the ultimate goal of becoming a researcher. 


Maria Davis

2017 maria davisI moved to New Brunswick as a sixteen-year-old student from India to pursue a higher education and become an environmental lawyer. The many great teachers I encountered in New Brunswick sparked my curiosity for fundamental sciences and inspired me to ask questions about the living world surrounding us. For my Master’s research, I studied photosynthetic metabolism during light stress in fresh-water green algae. After obtaining my MSc. degree, I took two years away from graduate school to teach Microbiology at UNB in a limited-term faculty position in the Department of Biology.

I am currently entering the final year of my PhD. research under the supervision of Dr. Shawn MacLellan at UNB. My work involves a unique enzyme system that regulates the expression of certain bacterial genes in response to environmental stresses, research that is currently being supported by NSERC and NBIF. Specifically, I study a membrane protein (called RsiO) that is a critical component of this enzyme system, and plays a role in the cellular ability to respond to changes in environmental pH and to mediate resistance to certain antibiotics. I am truly grateful for the additional funding support from the O’Brien Foundation.


Olivia Beaudry

2017 olivia beaudryIn April 2012, Olivia Beaudry obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology at Laurentian University. In September 2014, she completed her Master degree in Experimental Psychology at Université de Moncton. During her studies, she worked as a research assistant and as a laboratory manager. She worked on different types of research projects (e.g.: recognition of emotional facial expressions, attentional biases towards alcohol stimuli among university students, and factors influencing immediate memory performance in backward recall). She also worked as a teacher auxiliary for several psychology courses.

Olivia is currently a third-year student in the Doctoral program in Clinical Psychology at the Université de Moncton. For her doctoral thesis, she is investigating the impact of response modality on lexical factors in backward serial recall. She is also teaching part-time as a lecturer at the Université de Moncton. After her doctoral studies, she is planning to become a child clinical psychologist.


Daneck Lang-Ouellette

2017 daneck lang ouelletteDaneck Lang-Ouellette grew up in a francophone family in Edmundston, New Brunswick. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Moncton in 2012. During his studies, he spent two summers as a research assistant at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada focusing on improving crop yield and evaluating pesticide regulation.

Daneck then began graduate work under the supervision of Dr. Pier Jr Morin at the University of Moncton, studying hibernation. He found that gene regulation in hibernating mammals is controlled by a novel class of regulators, microRNAs.  He obtained his Master of Science in Biochemistry in 2014. In 2015, Daneck decided to change his scientific field, language, and location, moving to Montreal to start his PhD under the supervision of Dr. Alanna J. Watt at McGill University.  His PhD work focuses on how axonal structures influences how information is transmitted in neurons in the brain, and how this impacts neuronal function.

Daneck has published several peer-reviewed articles, and has presented at national and international conferences. Daneck’s long-term goal is a career in scientific research in academia or industry. The recognition and support he has received from the O’Brien Foundation is instrumental in helping him achieve this goal.


Basile Roussel

2017 basile rousselBasile Roussel hails from Le Goulet, a village in North-eastern New Brunswick. He has always been fascinated with Acadian French, his native dialect. His interest in local dialects led him to pursue the scientific study of language. In 2012, he completed a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Linguistics at the Université de Moncton and the following year, graduated from the University of Toronto with a Master's degree in French Linguistics.

Basile is currently a PhD candidate in Linguistics at the University of Ottawa's dynamic Sociolinguistics Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Shana Poplack. His thesis is an empirical test of the general assumption that Acadian French has evolved differently than Québec French. Equipped with a rich corpus of rare longitudinal data and the empirical methods pioneered at this laboratory, he seeks to uncover the diachronic trajectory of these varieties in their social, historical and linguistic contexts. These efforts aim to fill a critical gap in our understanding of the evolution of Canadian varieties of French.

In addition to his doctoral studies, Basile currently volunteers as Secretary of the Acadian Association of Ottawa. He also often gives workshops in local high schools to raise awareness of French language diversity in Canada. The generous support from the Leonard and Kathleen O'Brien Humanitarian Trust will allow him to pursue these undertakings.


Patricia Oliver

2017 patricia oliverPatricia grew up in Moncton, New Brunswick, developing an interest in the sciences during high school. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Honours Physics at Dalhousie University in 2013. During her time at Dalhousie University, she worked in Dr. Ian Hill's organic electronic materials and devices laboratory. Her undergraduate research focused on understanding light propagation within organic thin-film solar cells, and improving solar cell manufacturing techniques. During this time, Patricia developed an interest in computational research, data analysis and programming.

Patricia began a Master of Science in Physics, with a specialization in Medical Physics at Carleton University in 2013. She transferred to the Ph.D. program in 2014. The goal of her graduate research is to investigate radiation transport and energy deposition within the human body, resulting from radiation therapy or diagnostic radiology procedures. She uses Monte Carlo simulations to develop a better understanding of the effects of radiation on the cellular level. Her graduate research has led to two recent publications in Physics in Medicine and Biology. In

2017, Patricia was awarded the O’Brien Foundation Alumni Fellowship, which will allow her to continue her graduate studies at Carleton University


O'Brien Fellows - 2016 to 1975