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A ringing endorsement

August 31, 2018

Hilary Stone
Hilary Stone, BESc'16, MESc'18

Hilary Stone, BESc’16, MESc’18, has always been interested in health care but she wasn’t sure to what degree.

“Medicine was kind of on my mind but I like math, I like physics, and I like problem-solving so I thought I’d start with engineering and see what I could do with it,” said Stone.

She started at Western in Chemical Engineering. In her second year, she heard Prof. Kibret Mequanint discuss his interest in applying chemical engineering principles towards biomedical outcomes. She thought, “That’s it, that’s where I can see myself.” So, she worked for him as a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada summer student and then decided to pursue a graduate degree.

Stone focuses on biomaterials research for tissue engineering. She creates imitation human tissues, like cardiac tissue, that can be implanted in the body for clinical applications or used to improve the efficiency of drug testing.

“I make mesh scaffolds that temporarily support cells until they recreate their own structure. At that point, the scaffolds degrade, leaving behind a new piece of tissue,” she explained.

In 2017-18, Stone received the Ron Yamada Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS). OGS is a merit-based, matching gift program that supports graduate students. Every $5,000 from donors leverages an additional $10,000 in government funds to support one $15,000 award. Recipients are selected by a rigorous internal competition that considers a candidate’s academic performance and research proposal.

To Stone, receiving one of these prestigious awards felt like an endorsement of her potential. “Undeniably, the financial component is big. But beyond that, it’s a great award to receive because it’s a competitive process. Receiving an OGS gives you a degree of credibility and it demonstrates that there is value to your research,” she said.

The OGS award released Stone from teaching assistant obligations so she could focus intently on her research in her final semester. It also gave her the chance to compete with the varsity cross country and track and field teams, as well as to compete in the Three Minute Thesis competition, where she advanced to the final round.

With two degrees already under her belt, Stone has headed home to Toronto to begin medical school.

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