Lakehead University graduate student wins prestigious $150,000 Vanier Scholarship

September 20, 2023 – Thunder Bay, Ont.   

Lakehead Civil Engineering PhD student Tristen Brown has been awarded the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, one of the most prestigious national awards for doctoral students. 

Brown will receive $50,000 per year for three years to support his doctoral studies. 

As a PhD student and graduate research assistant in Lakehead’s Department of Civil Engineering, Brown is currently undertaking research tackling innovative solutions to overcome the ongoing housing challenges for Indigenous communities throughout Canada subjected to extreme climate conditions. 

“Winning this prestigious award would not have been possible without the unwavering support and dedication from my PhD supervisors in the Faculty of Engineering, and all my colleagues in the Structural and Wind Engineering Research Laboratory at Lakehead,” Brown said. 

“I am extremely grateful they see all this potential in me that I did not recognize in myself.

“I’m truly humbled and excited for all the new opportunities this scholarship will bring. I am more than thrilled to compile research related to my own Indigenous culture. I know the research and novel solutions will make an immediate impact on the current challenges that Indigenous communities face.” 

Brown began his studies at Lethbridge College in Alberta before joining Lakehead University via its unique college transfer program for engineering students. 

He went on to achieve a Bachelor of Civil Engineering and a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering before beginning his doctoral studies. 

Dr. Ahmed Elshaer, Brown’s PhD supervisor, praised his exceptional contribution to the work of the Structural and Wind Engineering Research Laboratory at Lakehead. 

“Tristen is a role model in his professionalism and commitment to research excellence. We have all enjoyed seeing his progress and continue to be inspired by the positive impact of his work,” Dr. Elshaer said. 

“We are incredibly proud of Tristen’s achievement in winning this highly-competitive and coveted national scholarship,” said Dr. Janusz Kozinski, Dean of Engineering at Lakehead University. 

“This award is thoroughly deserved, and reflects the exceptional quality of his research, his true passion for engineering, and the importance of the innovative work he is undertaking to develop new housing solutions for Indigenous communities in Northwestern Ontario and across Canada,” Dr. Kozinski added. 

Across Canada, 166 doctoral students will receive a total of $24.9 million in support through the Vanier Graduate Scholarship that is jointly funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.












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Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has nine faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2023 World Universities Rankings for the fourth consecutive year, and the number one university in the world with fewer than 9,000 students in THE’s 2023 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit