2023 Medal Winners | francais

The 2023 Eric C. Svensson Memorial Graduate Scholarship

is awarded to

Janani Balasubramanian

"I am deeply honoured and grateful to receive the Eric Svensson Memorial Graduate Scholarship. This recognition fuels my passion for research and community service. I extend heartfelt thanks to the donors, motivating me to continue contributing to the scientific community with dedication and enthusiasm." winner citation

The Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) is pleased to announce that the 2023 Eric C. Svensson Memorial Graduate Scholarship is awarded to Janani Balasubramanian, Ontario Tech University, in recognition of her highly original community service and her groundbreaking research supporting the development of technology to automatically diagnose blood disorders in real-time using a surface-enhanced Raman scattering-based nano-sensor. She is carrying out this research under the supervision of Dr. Nisha Agarwal at Faculty of Science, Ontario Tech University and is a recipient of Ontario Graduate Scholarship 2023-2024 and Mitacs Globalink Graduate Fellowship 2023. Recently arriving in Canada, Ms. Balasubramanian participated at the 2023 CAP Congress and won the “Overall Best Poster” title and the first prize in both Division of Gender Equality in Physics and Division of Physics in Medicine and Biology at the Congress. In addition, she triumphed at the Catalyst Challenge 2023 themed ‘Accelerating Climate Action’ securing First Prize for her project focused on repurposing fallen leaves into eco-friendly paper materials. This initiative, conducted for post-secondary institutions across Canada by Brilliant Catalyst, Ontario Tech University, highlights her dedication to sustainable practices and environmental innovation. Previously, she participated in a number of interdisciplinary projects in India including winning first prize for “Fem Kit”, a polycystic ovarian syndrome diagnostic strip kit and first prize in National level Smart India Hackathon conducted by government of India. She has been and continues to be active as a mentor and teacher. Janani, who is completing her Masters Degree at Ontario Technical University, is an active researcher, having published more than 31 papers, on many of which she is one of the lead authors. Her work clearly demonstrates the application of advanced techniques based on physics to important real-world health problems. She is already a leader and ambassador for the field.. announcement

Hemoglobin (Hb) disorders are conditions that affect the heme protein in the blood, which carries oxygen throughout our bodies. Hb variants, such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia, contribute to 7% of global health problems. However, current blood tests can be expensive, time-consuming, and not always easily accessible. Detecting Hb disorders using the proposed method in the early stages is critical for preventing or managing associated complications. Our research focus is on developing a sensor to identify these disorders by detecting defects in the Hb protein structure. Our approach to this sensor involves monitoring a unique fingerprint or signature of molecules, much like how humans have their own fingerprints, which can be detected via vibrations using the Raman instrument. Different Hb defects alter the structure of Hb, which, in turn, changes the Raman signals of the Hb variants. Since detecting minute changes in these fingerprint patterns is challenging, we use nano-sized particles to interact with Hb and enhance the fingerprint pattern, making it more prominent for observation. This technique is known as surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS). We aim to develop a SERS-based assay platform that allows for rapid and real-time sensing of Hb conditions and quantification with small sample sizes and remarkable sensitivity. We deposit gold nanoparticles as a thin film on glass substrates by impinging a laser on bulk gold with optimized conditions. To link Hb with these particles, we attach a specific ligand at the interface, which acts as a 'lock,' with the heme protein serving as the correct 'key' to fit into it. Thus, building a rapid, reliable, specific and sensitive biosensor for hemoglobin detection. nominator citation

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