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Western University: Science Student Aims for the Stars with $100K Schulich Leaders Scholarship

“It all started at the Cronyn Observatory,” says Emma Harmos, reflecting on when – and where – her love for science began.

“My parents brought my younger sister and I to the observatory open houses here at Western every summer and those experiences really fostered my interest.” And when Harmos gave similar open house tours working as a co-op Student at the Cronyn Observatory, last summer, “it was a full circle moment.”

“I feel so grateful for the opportunities I had through the internship. I learned a multitude of things, something new every single day, and I just loved it,” Harmos said, adding her appreciation for the support of observatory curator and history professor Mark Tovey and physics and astronomy professor Jan Cami.“They were both incredible and taught me so much.”

Now she’s looking to expand her knowledge further, studying astrophysics at Western as one of the school’s six Schulich Leaders.

The Western cohort was selected out of a nationwide pool of 350,000 potential candidates and from 1,400 nominated students, to be named among the 100 scholarship recipients.

The prestigious award celebrates some of the country’s top achieving students, providing scholarships worth $120,000 each to engineering and $100,000 each to science, technology or math students.

In addition to giving tours, Harmos assisted Tovey in setting up a period room replicating Western’s Elginfield Observatory, located north of London, Ont., which closed in 2010.

Harmos was responsible for photographing, weighing and measuring many of the Apollo-era equipment now housed in the room. She experienced what Tovey described as an “Indiana Jones moment,” discovering a piece of equipment “with a 60s vibe” while “ransacking an old physics and astronomy lab.”

“Emma set an extraordinary pace working here. I’m in no way surprised she won the Schulich Leaders award,” Tovey said.

One of the biggest highlights for Harmos was when Tovey arranged for her to attend an image reveal reception as new images captured by the James Webb Telescope were received.

As Harmos stood among physics and astronomy faculty, students and staff waiting to see the images, “the excitement was palpable,” she said. “Dr. Cami showed me what he was doing with those photos, so I got to see the actual work being done. It was amazing to see them already on top of that, and witnessing firsthand how it was impacting the department and their research. It was a ‘buzz’ that really stayed with me.”

Harmos aspires to one day work for the Canadian Space Agency. “I hope to apply my knowledge to advance sustainable space exploration technologies and to develop innovative techniques to push the limits of space exploration and planetary defence,” she said.

For now, she’s focused on coming to Western this fall.

“I’m excited for September and grateful to receive the Schulich Leaders scholarship,” Harmos said. “It’s been exciting to meet the other Western recipients and to be part of this community. I look forward to meeting more innovators and experiencing more incredible learning opportunities.”

Supporting the next generation of Canadian innovators

The Schulich Leaders program was created by philanthropist Seymour Schulich to recognize outstanding students choosing to study science, technology, engineering or math at one of 20 partner universities in Canada.

“This group of outstanding students will represent the best and brightest Canada has to offer and will make great contributions to society, both on a national and global scale. With their university expenses covered, they can focus their time on their studies, research projects, extracurriculars and entrepreneurial ventures. They are the next generation of entrepreneurial-minded, technology innovators,” Schulich said.

The other 2023-24 Western Schulich Leaders are:

Cole Branston

Cole Branston, London, Ont. (engineering)

Leadership comes naturally to Branston, who has held roles including crew trainer at McDonald’s and owning, operating and maintaining a local lawn care business. A summer co-op placement at SlyFox Marketing and Web Design has given him real-world experience in the tech field. Branston aspires to one day own his own software company aimed at solving global issues.

William Jamieson

William Jamieson, London, Ont. (science)

Jamieson led his high school web development team since its inception and earned a web development co-op placement at Bryck Technologies. He played King Duncan in his school’s production of Macbeth and Judah in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Jamieson looks forward to networking through university co-op placements to gain experience that will help him become a software developer at a start-up focused on adding value to society.

Kai Laugesen

Kai Laugesen, Toronto, Ont. (engineering)

Laugesen grew up fascinated by STEM, teaching himself many concepts. In 2020, he founded his own custom design woodworking and metalworking business. He also was team captain of Uproar, an elites ultimate frisbee team that qualified to play at the Canadian Nationals tournament. He hopes to lead a start-up in the future, designing products that make a positive impact on the world, collaborating with like-minded individuals.

Khalad Osman

Khalad Osman, London, Ont. (engineering)

Osman hopes to use his dual degree in engineering and business to one day launch his own renewable energy company. His philanthropic activity includes raising money in support of food security through his school’s Muslim Students’ Association. He also supports his immediate and extended family, sending income from his job to family in Lebanon suffering from the country’s economic crisis. In grade 11, he began the football season as a backup, but three weeks into the season he became a starter on the school’s nationally ranked team.

Rezwan Sadequi

Rezwan Sadeqi, Milton, Ont. (science)

Sadeqi used his extra-found time during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic to learn about trading stocks, which led him to become the president of his school’s stock club. He guided and taught other students the concepts he once aspired to learn. In his early years of high school he was on FIRST Roboctics team 128, travelling to Rochester, NY and universities across Ontario for competitions that saw him speaking on behalf of his team giving main stage presentations. Based on his passion for mathematics, he worked as an instructor at Mathnasium in September 2022, as the youngest teacher for students in grades one through 12, gaining mentorship and leadership skills.

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Western University: Science Student Aims for the Stars with $100K Schulich Leaders Scholarship

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