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A milestone for Cindy, a landmark for UTSC

Cindy Bongard is the first graduate of UTSC's doctoral program in environmental science.

A few weeks ago, Cindy Bongard successfully defended her PhD dissertation, thus accomplishing one of life's most significant milestones. But the newly minted Dr. Bongard's achievement resonates well beyond her own career, as it also marks an important landmark in the ongoing transformation of the University of Toronto Scarborough.

Bongard is the first PhD to graduate from UTSC's groundbreaking doctoral program in environmental science.

"I was positively overwhelmed by the knowledge and passion of the faculty at UTSC," says Bongard, who also completed her BSc here in 2006. "It was their energy and expertise that kick-started my decision to pursue graduate studies in the first place."

Bongard's dissertation was supervised by Professor Roberta Fulthorpe.

"I knew Roberta prior to beginning my graduate studies," says Bongard. "I already had a great deal of respect for her passionate involvement in conservation of pristine spaces, as well as her recognition of threats to sustainability arising from anthropogenic influences."

Bongard used molecular techniques to characterize fungal communities in native plants that persist in sites that have been invaded by more aggressive plants, such as dog-strangling vine. Her work might contribute to restoration strategies in areas where invasive species are a problem.

"Cindy Bongard masterfully defended her thesis and in doing so made history," says Professor William Gough, Vice-Dean of Graduate Education and Program Development at UTSC. "Her department and the university are exceptionally proud of her accomplishment."

Begun in the fall of 2010, UTSC's doctoral program in environmental science prepares the next generation of scientists to explore and grapple with the most pressing environmental challenges of our time. It is the first PhD at U of T to be solely administered on the UTSC campus.

Read more about the program here.




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