Governor General's Gold Medal Announced

The College of Kinesiology is extremely proud to announce that one of our graduates, Dr. Chantal Kawalilak, will receive two special honours at this year's Spring Convocation ceremony - the Governor General's Gold Medal and a University of Saskatchewan Graduate Thesis Award in the Life Sciences category. As one of the top two students who received a Doctoral Thesis Award, Chantal earned the additional honour of the Governor General's Gold Medal in recognition of her outstanding academic performance in the graduate program. Information considered by the selection committee included the thesis, coursework, publications and presentations deriving from her research field, and awards received.

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Chantal’s Ph.D. thesis, “Monitoring Bone Micro-architecture with a Special Focus on Bone Strength,” [supervisor: Dr. Saija Kontulainen] focused on defining the precision (repeatability of measures) of the high resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT) scanner to measure bone density, geometry, micro-architecture (small details in the bone), and bone strength (using finite element modeling) in postmenopausal women. Specifically, her thesis provided an example of how precision information can be used to plan prospective or longitudinal studies, defined how precision information can be used to interpret results from investigations that anticipate skeletal change, and characterized the skeletal change in postmenopausal women—a group of women who are susceptible to osteoporotic fragility fractures and in need of precise clinical monitoring.

This work is being furthered in Chantal’s postdoctoral fellowship work in the College of Engineering at the U of S. The overall goal of Chantal’s PDF research is to develop and validate a new method for determining bone strength that can be used to identify individuals at risk of wrist fracture. In this study Chantal will use Synchrotron-based imaging (at the Canadian Light Source, CLS) to optimize measurements of bone micro-architecture provided by HR-pQCT, develop a computer model to simulate falling and estimate bone strength using newly optimized HR-pQCT images, and validate this computer model using mechanical testing on cadaveric forearms. This research is scientifically important and clinically relevant as findings will improve our understanding of how to characterize bone micro-architecture underpinning osteoporosis, bone strength and fracture risk. Importantly, these results will guide osteoporosis measurement, fracture risk assessment and assist research aiming to improve osteoporotic fracture prevention and treatment.

In addition to her own research, Chantal has had the opportunity to work with numerous intra- and inter- collegiate research projects and attended numerous local, national, and international conferences to disseminate scientific knowledge from her work. Her research area and activity has allowed her to establish an international research collaboration with a well-known musculoskeletal research group in Germany. As a result of her activity in research, Chantal has been a successful candidate of the Frederick Banting and Charles Best Masters and Doctoral research awards from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), as well as research awards from the U of S.

The College of Kinesiology congratulates Dr. Chantal Kawalilak on these honours and we wish her continued success with her research efforts!