Catherine Krasnik
Tobi Lubinsky
Julia Shinaba
Lisa Van Bruggen


Catherine took a year off from her studies to become a doctor in order to complete her PhD in Behavioural Neuroscience and Psychiatry, both at McMaster University. She wants to understand and appreciate the relationship between the brain and behaviour. Her family life instilled in her a sense of perseverance, the courage to change her life and the hope to impact the lives of other women.

As she began to study psychiatric medications in medicine, she realized that many of the current pharmacological treatments for psychiatric illness are ineffective. These medications can have quite detrimental effects on the brain and have long-term consequences such as potentially causing Parkinson’s disease.

The SFC Grant will allow her to conduct highly relevant research that will advance an understanding of the pathogenesis and treatment of women’s mental health issues. One of her professors described Catherine as an unusually gifted student with a real prospect of playing a leadership role in women’s health.


Tobi (27) has always been interested in the mysterious and complex nature of the biological, genetic and social basis of behaviour. Her academic interest was increased when her grandmother began to suffer from memory difficulties. This led her to work towards a Masters and now PhD in Clinical Neuropsychology at York University to further explore cognition and psychopathology particularly in aging women’s populations.

The term Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is used for the transitional state between normal cognitive aging and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Women are twice as afflicted with AD as men and are less likely to seek medical treatment at the onset than men. Accurate identification of women at the earliest possible stage of this transition is critical. Tobi’s ultimate goal is to build a research program that further expands our current understanding of the mechanisms underlying memory in women and to educate women worldwide on these finding.

Tobi, the oldest of 4 siblings, lives on her own in downtown Toronto and holds 2 jobs in order to alleviate the financial burden on her family. With no government funding her educational costs exceed her yearly income quite substantially.

Her referees consider Tobi to be a budding scientist. She consistently relates to people in a compassionate and caring manner showing a maturity and level headiness unusual for her age.


Julia (46) is a single mother of 2 boys ages 21 and 16. She had a struggle to be accepted as a mature student with advance standing in Canada because she could not obtain up to date, official transcripts from her university in Nigeria, due to civil unrest. As an exceptional student she has recently been accepted into doctoral studies as she completes her MA in Leadership Studies at the University of Victoria.

Julia’s focus is on providing empowerment programs and supporting the rights of women, particularly of colour, as an advocate. She has dealt with racism, gender discrimination, harassment, equity, poverty, and family law issues of major concern to women. She uses an anti-oppressive approach of inclusion in her work, validating women’s pain and concerns and helping strengthen their resolve to make a difference. She is dedicated to improving the lives of women less fortunate than herself in her native Nigeria and here in Canada.

As a single parent and full time student Julia is struggling to survive, with a $60,000 outstanding student loan. She has found that the Grants for Women Award has been a “turnaround” in her life. She was deliberating whether to give up or just obtain more student loans and get more frustrated. The Award gave her hope and motivation to forge ahead in her academic work.


Having completed her MA in Clinical Psychology Lisa (26) plans to complete her PhD in June, 2007 at the University of Victoria. Her research is in child maltreatment, family violence and other forms of trauma. Lisa has found that childhood sexual and psychological abuse experiences are associated with decreased feelings of sexual self-esteem and an increased risk for sexual re-victimization in early adulthood. Her research results suggest several practical avenues for prevention of future victimization.

After completing her Doctoral degree, Lisa looks forward to becoming a competent and ethical Clinical Psychologist in the community. While she plans to stay involved in research her focus will be on carrying out therapy with girls and women who have experienced interpersonal traumas such as child sexual abuse and sexual violence within intimate relationships. She wants to help individuals understand and cope with past and present sexual violence.

Lisa’s professors find her to be warm, energetic with a combination of critical thinking skills and compassion. She shows great promise as a therapist. Lisa is thrilled to receive an SFC Grants for Women. “This grant has allowed me to focus more on my studies and has given me a more balanced life during the university year. The Foundation fulfills an inspiring role, helping and mentoring women.”

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