My ambitious undergraduate researcher Jonathan Gagné was written up in my faculty's newsletter. It reflects well on him and on me.
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You’ll likely find Jonathan Gagné sitting at the edge of the Rideau River contemplating human imagination. Along with his supervisor Jim Davies, he is attempting to unravel the mysteries of how we can visualize all the things we do, especially when we have never seen some of these things. If you are asked to imagine a purple elephant, nearly all of us can do so, yet few of us have ever seen one. What is happening in our minds that allow us to be able to do this? This very question is at the heart of the honours thesis in Cognitive Science, which Gagné is currently completing. His thesis presents an account of how humans could be accomplishing this feat.
Gagné’s undergraduate research work, high grades, and extra-curricular initiatives, has led him to win the highest NSERC graduate award, the Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship, which is awarded to the top-ranked graduate students in the country. This award has even resulted in Gagné being scouted by universities across Canada, despite never applying. “I contribute much of my success to the outstanding Cognitive Science program. The program is very interesting, and the staff and faculty are kind and very helpful. If it were not for Dr. Davies giving me a chance to begin working on his research, I would not have the opportunities I have now. I unquestionably recommend this program to anyone with interests in the human mind,” said Gagné.
Gagné’s university involvement has gone beyond just research. He has philanthropic involvement with Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS, The American Heart Association, The Alzheimer’s Association, and the Shepherds of Good Hope. In the 2006 – 2007 academic year he was elected as the Constituency Representative for the Faculty of Arts and Social Science, where he represented and voiced the opinions of over 6800 students, on behalf of the Carleton University Student Association (CUSA). In his spare time, he is the captain of a football and a basketball team, and still makes time to practice his musical instrument.
“The well rounded cognitive science program is challenging and intriguing. It has developed me mentally, and has inspired me to take an active role on campus.”