Valedictorian – Heather Whittaker – Faculty of Science

Heather Whittaker

Heather Whittaker

Considered one of the top undergraduate students in Canada working in biomedical research, Heather Whittaker is described as “dynamite” and “explosively bright”. She is a resourceful, driven, award-winning student with a passion and curiosity for neuroscience — particularly the physiology of the aging brain. She plans to become a practicing physician involved in clinical research, and wants to have direct involvement in the care of people with dementia.

Whittaker has spent her last two summers engaged in undergraduate research with a focus on Alzheimer’s disease. She is currently working with Dr. Melanie Martin, Chancellor’s Research Chair and Associate Professor of Physics at UWinnipeg, to develop new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods for earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, a disease which afflicts nearly, 747,000 Canadians. Whitaker has published a paper with Martin and has a second one in the works, to be published in the fall.

Whittaker discovered her path by volunteering at Grace Hospital, which she still finds time for once a week. At Grace she works with mostly older adult patients, many of whom have cognitive deficits, including dementia. This is where she observed how challenging it is to cope with such disorders, both for patients and their families. The experience sparked her interest in the aging brain and led her to a volunteer position with the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba.

Whittaker has earned more than a dozen awards and scholarships. Her long list includes the prestigious Isbister Undergraduate Scholarship; Gold Medal for Achievement in a Major (3-Year), Biopsychology; Chancellor’s Gold Medal for the Highest Standing in Science (a medal for overall achievement in a 3-Year degree); and the Governor General’s Silver Medal.

This fall, Whittaker heads to Europe to begin her Master’s Degree and continue her research in clinical neuroscience at University College London, a world-class dementia research centre.

The University of Winnipeg community congratulates Heather Whittaker for her many accomplishments.

For more information on UWinnipeg’s Convocation visit Spring 2015 Convocation.

Media Contact
Naniece Ibrahim, Communications Officer, UWinnipeg
T: 204. 988. 7130 E:



  • Philippe Cyrenne said...

    Congratulations Heather on being chosen as valedictorian and your impressive achievements as a student. All the best on your future studies!

  • Sue Newton said...

    Wow! Well done Heather. Very much looking forward to meeting up with you one day when in the UK.

  • Bev Whittaker said...

    So very pleased to see you having such success so early on in your career! Love you sweet girl!

  • Samantha Richley said...

    Congratulations Heather on your award and achievements. Good luck with your Masters and look forward to meeting you in England.

  • Beth Devine/Roger Whittaker said...

    We couldn’t be prouder of you. Congratulations on your achievements!!

  • Christina Caouette said...

    So proud to call you one of my friends: Victoria 2012 forever and wherever else we meet in this big wide world <3

  • Richard Brown said...

    C’est magnifique. Congratulations. If you have time, we’d love to see you in France