Friendship and fellowships: graduate students awarded NSERC postdoctoral fellowships

Two Department of Chemistry students to study, research abroad as part of federally-funded program.

News Staff - 15 May 2019

Graduate students Patrick Moon and Matthew Roy in the Department of Chemistry have been recognized with NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowships, awarded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

The awards are valued at $45,000 per year for two years and support researchers as they go abroad to further their studies and advance our scientific understanding.

"This awards program is highly competitive, so this recognition is quite significant," said Rylan Lundgren, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Moon's PhD supervisor. "Matthew and Patrick started in the program at the same time and are good friends-it's great to see our students support each other and succeed like this."

Hear from Moon and Roy on what the NSERC fellowships mean to them and how the awards will help push their chemistry research forward:

Patrick Moon

Patrick Moon is a PhD student studying transition metal catalysis, supervised by Rylan Lundgren. Before pursuing graduate studies at UAlberta, Moon completed his bachelor's in chemistry at the University of Ottawa.

As part of his two-year NSERC fellowship, Moon will be heading to UC Berkeley where he will be conducting research under Professor Dean Toste

What does your research focus on?

My PhD research focuses on the use of transition metals such as copper, palladium, or iridium as catalysts to make new bonds between organic molecules. My research ultimately aims to discover and develop new and more efficient ways to prepare functional molecules.

What does this achievement mean to you?

Receiving an NSERC PDF means a lot to me. First, it serves as recognition for the work that went into my PhD studies. It also represents an opportunity to broaden my expertise in new areas of chemistry and will act as a valuable stepping stone for my future career.

How did your friendship with Roy contribute to your experience going through the chemistry graduate program?

We met about 5 years ago at the Edmonton airport when both of us were undergraduate students visiting UAlberta and the chemistry department. We both joined the UAlberta program in 2014, and we've been good friends since.

Our interests in chemistry are aligned in the sense that we are both doing synthetic chemistry: Roy is on the inorganic chemistry side, and I'm more on the organic chemistry side. It's made for a lot of good discussions over the years. In and out of the lab, Roy and others in the department have made my time in Edmonton memorable, whether talking about chemistry or beating Roy at foosball.

How has your time at UAlberta contributed to your success?

The Department of Chemistry at the University of Alberta has been an amazing place for my PhD studies. The faculty and staff here are amazing, and the facilities are second-to-none. To be honest, leaving them behind may be the hardest part about leaving the University of Alberta.

What comes next for you, in terms of research and/or education?

I'll be defending my PhD thesis in August, then I'll be headed to Berkeley in California for this postdoc. From there, I hope to find a position in academia, preferably in Canada.

Matthew Roy

Matthew Roy is a a PhD candidate in professor Eric Rivard's research group in the Department of Chemistry. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of New Brunswick, and will be heading to the University of Oxford for his two-year NSERC fellowship.

What is your research focus?

My research is focused on exploring the reactivity of Earth-abundant elements. The ultimate goal would be to replace expensive and toxic metals currently used in industry with cheaper, low-toxicity elements. At this stage, the field is largely fundamental, but remarkable progress has been made over the past several decades.

How did your friendship with Moon contribute to your experience going through the chemistry graduate program?

I met Moon at the airport when we were both visiting the university as prospective students. After introducing himself, he promptly demonstrated several "magic" tricks using a dubious set of playing cards from his backpack. Since then, we have gone through the various aspects of the PhD program at about the same time-it's been nice to have a friend to talk to over a few beers. He's also a notorious cheater when it comes to foosball.

How has your time at UAlberta contributed to your success?

In addition to our great Faculty of Science, the Department of Chemistry has excellent support staff who make life easier for graduate students and who service the excellent facilities that UAlberta has to offer.

What comes next for you, in terms of research and education?

I will be defending my PhD this summer and then starting my two year NSERC fellowship in September at the University of Oxford with Professor Simon Aldridge.