From left: Megan Gordon, Nicole Neil, Vincenzo Coia and David AllisonDavid Allison (BKin ’09) hopes to improve the quality of life for people living with spinal cord injuries.Megan Gordon (BA ’07) is exploring the preparedness of teacher candidates for diverse classrooms.Vincenzo Coia is applying a new field of statistics to help better understand natural disasters.And Nicole Neil is analyzing and evaluating treatment in order to help children with autism learn skills to cope with anxiety.As featured speakers at the recent Graduate Student Awards and Donor Recognition reception, Allison, Gordon, Coia and Neil put a face to the breadth of research being pursued by Brock’s 1,536 graduate students.The foursome is among more than 200 graduate students who have received, to date, 2010-11 internal and external awards and scholarships for academic and research excellence.“Graduate students are the crowning achievement of the University,” said Murray Knuttila, Brock’s Provost and Vice-President, Academic, to the audience of 120 faculty, staff, students and donors who attended the May 10 event organized by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.“Graduate students have the capacity to be creative and systematic and to take information and translate it into usable knowledge and wisdom.”Knuttila also recognized donors for the contributions they are making to graduate student success at Brock.“Today we have people who are sharing their gifts to help others. The ability of our graduate students to create new knowledge and insight wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of our donors.”As part of the Faculty’s recognition of donor-based awards, a special tribute was made in honour of the Michael H. Spironello Memorial Fellowship. The annual award was created in memory of Spironello, a graduate of Brock’s master’s program in Biological Sciences and PhD candidate at the University of Toronto who died five years ago. The award was established by his family and Brock Professors Fiona Hunter and Michael Bidochka.“Michael was a friend, a gifted scientist and a person who exhibited a broad range of interests,” said Bidochka. “The spirit of this award truly reflects Michael’s passion for research and also the importance he placed on a balanced lifestyle.”In her closing remarks, Marilyn Rose, Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies, thanked donors, faculty, staff and students for supporting graduate student excellence.“As I look around the room, I am heartened to see such amazing evidence of the collective ‘life of the mind’ that animates our graduate sector,” she said. “Celebrations like today’s capture the vibrant graduate culture that exists at Brock.”Visit “Celebrating the success of our graduate students” to read more about the graduate student researchers who spoke at the event.