Fondation Arbour

Our first two Arbour scholars
The new scholarship program offered at INRS is bearing fruit

At the end of a highly competitive cross-university competition, two students from the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) have won Arbour scholarships totalling $30,000. Ludivine Lafosse is pursuing doctoral studies in water sciences, under the direction of Professor Jacob Stolle at the Centre Eau Terre Environnement, and Rita Nehmé is a doctoral student in virology and immunology, under the direction of Professor Yves St-Pierre at the Centre Armand-Frappier Santé Biotechnologie.

We take this opportunity to celebrate their success and tell their story. Meet Ludivine and Rita. 

Ludivine Lafosse
Doctoral student in water sciences

Ludivine Lafosse 2022 

What brought you to INRS? What do you value about your experience?

As a Frenchwoman with a strong taste for adventure, I chose to do my PhD at INRS for three main reasons:

  • to study a little-known and exciting environment, the Arctic;
  • to be surrounded by a young and dynamic research team where professors take the time to follow our research and advise us;
  • to live in Quebec City and discover a new culture and a rich history.

Can you describe the challenge and impact of the research conducted in your doctoral project?

Climate change is causing significant changes in Arctic coastal and estuarine environments. Rising temperatures, melting sea ice, rising sea levels, permafrost, and increased storminess are leading to profound hydrodynamic and geomorphic changes. Climate uncertainty and natural disasters increase the vulnerability of indigenous communities and their infrastructure. My doctoral project aims to better understand coastal erosion in the Coppermine Delta in Nunavut, particularly threatening a historic burial ground of the local community. The development of a digital model together with field studies will provide a better risk assessment for the community. Future coastal protection projects can then be considered.

What does winning this scholarship mean to you?

Winning the Arbour Scholarship is a relief from the precariousness of student life, especially for international students, like me, who cannot apply for a wide range of scholarships that require Canadian citizenship or permanent residency. It is also a source of pride to have passed all the selection stages based on my merit. There are three stages of selection to obtain this scholarship: a first selection by our research institute, a second selection by the Fondation Arbour based on our application file and then a third selection with an in-person interview.

Now that I am a member of the Foundation, I have the opportunity to broaden my professional network and to present my research project thanks to the meetings organised by the Foundation. In addition, I appreciate the mentoring programme, which offers us advice and support outside the academic setting.

How do you see the future?

It is difficult to answer this question in such an uncertain world. I will simply say that my PhD offers me an incredible human and scientific adventure. In the long term, I would like to become a teacher/researcher on issues related to climate change, if possible.


Rita Nehmé
Doctoral student in virology and immunology

Rita Nehmé 2022

What brought you to INRS? What do you value about your experience?

While gaining experience in the pharmaceutical industry in the development of new treatments, I discovered an interest in the application of innovative therapeutic strategies. This is how I became interested in the promising work of Professor Yves St-Pierre at INRS.

Can you describe the challenge and impact of the research conducted for your PhD project?

We are developing a new class of galectin-7 [a gene associated with metastasis development] inhibitors for the treatment of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). TNBC accounts for 12-17% of all breast cancer cases and usually affects young women. It is particularly difficult to treat and is associated with a poor prognosis. There is therefore an urgent need for the development of new effective treatments.

What does it mean to you to win this scholarship?

I am proud to join the Arbour Foundation and a community that supports me in my journey to success. The Foundation’s generosity allows me to focus on my research project.

How do you see the future?

I am interested in developing innovative treatments to supplement existing treatments that are not very effective or to treat diseases for which there are still few therapeutic options. In order to further develop my research expertise for this purpose, I plan to undertake a postdoctoral fellowship.

“The INRS Foundation team is proud to have contributed to the creation of this new scholarship program for the benefit of the INRS student community and to encourage our two scholarship recipients in their future endeavours.”
—Élise Comtois, Executive Director 

In January 2022, INRS announced this new partnership initiated by the Fondation de l’INRS, which added our institution to the list of universities eligible for the Fondation Arbour’s scholarship program. The first competition, which includes three highly competitive stages, opened in the spring of 2022 and concluded this fall. 

About the Arbour Scholarships 

Since 2005, the Fondation Arbour has been contributing to the advancement of education in Quebec by offering scholarships in fields likely to encourage its economic development. The program is aimed at students whose research topic is related to the fields of engineering and computer science. International students are also eligible.

Each year, the Fondation Arbour awards a maximum of six scholarships per partner institution. For INRS, this represents up to three applications for the $13,000 master’s scholarships (research or professional) and three for the $20,000 doctoral scholarships. These awards are for one year, renewable for a second year. The key selection criteria include the applicant’s financial situation and perseverance. Leadership and academic excellence are also considered.

“In addition to generous financial support, Fondation Arbour offers mentoring, internship and entrepreneurial support programmes to the scholarship recipients. The Arbour Scholarship is a great career accelerator and I am pleased that two of our students will benefit from it. I am sure that their success will encourage many applications next year,” concludes the INRS Foundation’s executive director.

Warmest thanks to all those who participated in the selection process. Congratulations to all applicants and best wishes to our two first Fondation Arbour scholars!

Directory of INRS scholarships

INRS Foundation scholarships

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