On behalf of the CDA Institute, we would like to congratulate the winners of the 23rd annual Graduate Student Conference.

Top Prize/the CDA Institute & Metro Supply Chain Group Graduate Student Fellowship
Gemma Bowsher, Kings College London
Title: Strengthening Capabilities for Health Security Intelligence Across the Five Eyes Alliance”

RCMI Peter Hunter Award Winner
Jordan Miller, Royal Military College of Canada
Title: Building a Better Pen: Force Developing a More Robust Information Operations Capability”

1st Runner-up
Tyler Wentzell, University of Toronto
Title:The Right Tool for the Job? An Examination of the CAF’s Role in Climate-Change Related Disaster Response”

2nd Runner-up
Sean Murphy, Carleton University
Title:The State of Interoperability and Connectivity in the Canadian Armed Forces”

Best Public Speaking/Presentation
Kevin Budning, Carleton University
Title: The Impacts of Low Earth Orbit Satellites on a Connected Battlespace”

We would like to thank everyone for their participation in this year’s Graduate Student Conference and we are looking forward to hosting again in 2022.



This event is tailored for students and recent graduates looking for a unique platform to present their research, create professional connections, and hone their skills for the future.

The Graduate Student Conference provides students with a unique platform to present their research, create professional connections, and hone their skills for the future. The 2021 virtual edition will feature a series of themed sessions, where participants will be given the opportunity to present their research and receive constructive feedback from a panel of high-profile judges who are active decision makers in industry, government, academia, and think tanks across Canada. Our judges and audience will be taking note of who you are and the quality of your work. This is your chance to get your name out there, showcase your research to senior level practitioners and have it shared broadly within the Canadian defence and security community.   

Who’s Coming?

Global Affairs Canada / Department of National Defence / Industry / Academia

 We will award over $10,000 in prizes for the best presentations, including an employment contract worth $7,500. You will also be featured on our newsletter to over 9000 subscribers. 

  • First Place/The Peter Hunter Award by the Royal Canadian Military Institute: $1000*/Feature on social media to the CDA Institute’s 8000+ followers 
  • Second Place: $750 
  • Third Place: $500
  • Best Public Speaking / Presentation: $250
  • A work contract (value $7,500$) will be awarded to a presenter who not only offered an outstanding presentation, but also focused on a timely and important aspect of national security on which the Institute is seeking in-house expertise. This bursary is offered by our Strategic Partner Metro Supply Chain Group, and will be presented by its CEO HCol Chiko Nanji. 

*To be eligible for the Peter Hunter Award your presentation must propose a Canadian security & defence policy response to the topic at hand.

Vera Alexander
Deputy Ambassador
Canadian Joint Delegation to NATO

Dr Christopher Ankersen
Clinical Associate Professor
Center for Global Affairs, NYU

Lorraine Ben
Chief Executive
Lockheed Martin

Brigadier-General Simon Bernard
Director General
Plans, Canadian Joint Operations Command
Canadian Armed Forces


Dr Andrea Charron
Associate Professor and Director, Centre for Defence & Security Studies
University of Manitoba

Dr Youri Cormier
Executive Director of the CDA Institute & Conference of Defence Associations

Françoise Gagnon
Chief Executive Officer
ADGA Group

Françoise Gagnon

Peter Hammerschimdt
Assistant Deputy Minister (Policy)
Department of National Defence

Dr P. Whitney Lackenbauer
School for the Study of Canada
Trent University

HCOL Chiko Nanji
CEO, Founder & Owner of Metro Supply Chain Group
HCol of the Army Intelligence Regiment

Dr Anna Robak
Director, Research & Innovation
WSP Canada


The Graduate Student Conference will occur over a three-day period with one general theme per day. Applicants must submit abstracts that relate to one of the following three general themes. Suggested topics are listed, however, abstracts on a wide variety of topics will be accepted.  To submit an abstract, you must be a doctoral (PhD), or master’s level student, or recent graduate (up to 2 years) from an accredited university.

Day 1 (May 25th): Climate Security 

Suggested topics include but are not limited to: Climate justice, the Arctic, food & water security, greening defence, desertification, poverty & radicalization 

Day 2 (May 26th): Force Development & Capabilities  

Suggested topics include but are not limited to: Emerging technologies, emerging threats, recruitment & retention in the Canadian Armed Forces (including operational culture & gender), procurement.

Day 3 (May 27th): Alliances & Posture

Suggested topics include but are not limited to: NATO 2030, the Indo-Pacific, a Canadian role with the QUAD, Five Eyes & intelligence sharing.  




The CDA Institute will be accepting abstracts for review until Sunday, May 9th, 2021 at 11:59 ESTProposals must meet the following requirements in order to be accepted: 

  • Proposals must be original. Co-authored proposals are not eligible. 
  • A clear statement of relevance to one of the Conference’s three general themes 
  • 150 (min) – 250 (max) words in length
  • Times New Roman, 12-point font, double spaced 
  • Cited using either MLA, APA, or Chicago style with a bibliography
  • A title for your proposal  
  • Proposals must be submitted as a word file. File title: Last name, first name.


The authors of successful proposals will be contacted on Wednesday, May 12th, and welcomed to present their research during the Graduate Student Conference, on May 25th-27th. Presentations will be 10 minutes in length, each followed by a 10-minute feedback and Q&A session.  


Relevance to the three general themes: (1) Climate Security, (2) Force Development and Capabilities, and (3) Alliances & Posture.

Structure, organization, clarity and logic: Presentations should be organized in a clear and logical way in order to facilitate audience understanding. 

Quality of Deliver/Presentation: Presenters should speak clearly and at a reasonable pace in order to facilitate audience comprehension. This requires that the text be rehearsed and adjusted for time. Optics also matter. A presentation can be enhanced or ruined through the use of visuals. Finally, personal impression (a confident manner and eye contact) can enhance audience receptiveness. 

Depth of Research: Through the judicious use of references (name of authors or title of sources, offered orally or in writing through the use of visuals), judges can discern the depth of knowledge of the subject exhibited by the presenter. As in written material, appropriate references must be used. 

Responses to Questions: Following the presentations, the presenters will participate in a 10-minute Q&A, the purpose of which is to establish their relative (to other presenters) assurance, ease and ability to think on their feet, and respond to questions from the audience on issues raised in their presentation. Judges are thereby given an additional opportunity to discern the depth of the presenter’s knowledge of his/her chosen subject. 

Scoring: The judges will rank presentations comparatively based upon the above criteria; all cash prizes will be awarded upon this comparative ranking. The weight given by the judges to each of the above evaluation criteria is not revealed to the presenters. 

For any questions relating to the Graduate Student Conference please contact Jane Leakey,  Research and Communications Coordinator at jane@cdainstitute.ca.

Contact Jennifer Giguere at jennifer@cdainstitute.ca to book your sponsorship.

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