Centennial gold medal winner is PhD-bound

One of the newest members of the MRU alumni family shares his story

Kevin Hayes is a 2019 Centennial Gold Medal recipient, new alumnus and is going on to pursue his PhD


A sit-down with Brian Sevick, PhD, chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences in the fall of 2014 set new alumnus Kevin Hayes on a trajectory that he could never have predicted. He recalls his original career path plan as he headed into that life-changing meeting, when Sevick convinced Hayes to pursue his four-year Bachelor of Science — Environmental Science.

“I was working in construction and I wanted to move into the newly formed enviro side of the company, so I thought a two-year diploma or certificate in the environmental science field might help me get there.” Instead, he chose the degree path and has not looked back since.

At the 2019 Spring Convocation ceremonies, Hayes was presented with the Centennial Gold medal in recognition of his 4.0 GPA. Hayes is now preparing to enter directly into his PhD studies through Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom.

Hayes' area of study will be aerotoxic syndrome. While attending the International Network of Environmental Forensics conference in China in 2017, Hayes met with a professor, David Megson, PhD, from the U.K., and his interest was piqued by the research work Megson was undertaking on the syndrome.

“Aerotoxic syndrome describes neurological illnesses and symptoms that are experienced at a greater frequency in pilots and flight crews as compared to the normal population. It is believed these symptoms are caused by breathing airliner cabin air and may be developing due to chemical exposure in the aviation workplace, and more specifically to a specific engine oil additive.”

Working under Megso, as Hayes prepares to embark on this exciting and impactful next step in his academic journey he feels well-equipped and fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Mount Royal University’s world-class equipment and alongside some strong leaders in the field of environmental forensics.

Hayes was deciding between the University of Calgary and MRU, and was ultimately swayed by the regular access to different educational experiences offered by MRU, such as lab work and field trips.

“Everyone was super welcoming, and I was attracted to the awesome opportunities that the program and the school could deliver. The small class sizes and the assistance provided were also a big selling point.

“MRU has provided me with incredible opportunities to develop the research skills that will be required to complete the next phase of my education. The school provided an environment where professors were available and supportive, and this access coupled with their guidance allowed for meaningful learning to take place.”


June 7, 2019 ― Erika Holter


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