Geary Wins Banting Fellowship!
by Maureen Paisley
04 October 2011

Congratulations to Laina Geary, winner of a prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship

The objective of the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships Program is to attract and retain top-tier postdoctoral talent, both nationally and internationally, to develop their leadership potential, and to position them for success as research leaders of tomorrow, positively contributing to Canada's economic, social and research-based growth through a research-intensive career.

The Faculty of Science is pleased to announce that Laina Geary, a recent Ph.D. graduate, is recipient of one of these prestigious fellowships. 

Laina grew up in Sanford, Manitoba, and completed her undergraduate degree in the Faculty of Science.  After taking some time off between her first and second years of university, she discovered  and developed a keen interest in organic chemistry and started to work with Dr. Phil Hultin.  According to Hultin: "While working with her through her undergrad years, I had the pleasure to watch her develop into an imaginative, self-driven and productive scientist."

As a graduate student in Hultin's lab, Geary initially pursued several different research ideas, but then with Hultin's encouragement, struck out on her own to develop a completely new research project that eventually became her doctoral thesis.  Hultin says, "She did an enormous amount of work, but more importanly, she took control of the research and made it entirely her own."  This work had has now received international recognition.

When Geary and Hultin published the results, one of the papers made the cover on the European Jounal of Organic Chemistry, and the second paper was chosen by the editor of the Journal of Organic Chemistry as a Featured Article.  The Journal of Organic Chemistry article went on to become one of the 20 most accessed papers in September 2010.

Geary works in the area of organic synthesis - an essential driving force for modern society.  Drug therapies in modern medicine, for example, rely on the abilities of organic chemists to synthesis new molecules and develop new drugs.  Geary's work created a very efficient and elegant method for synthesizing several classes of molecules found in drug compounds.  The method also has the potential to make the molecules that are used in organic light emitting doides (OLEDs) to give colour to the light produced.  OLEDs can potentially provide brighter and crisper displays than light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or liquid crystal displays (LCDs). 

According to Hultin: "The big promise of OLEDs is that they can be made thinner, lighter and more flexible than current technologies.  The possibility of 'electonic paper' is just one goal of the OLED industry."

Geary describes her experience: "I really enjoyed being a part of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Manitoba. The Department has so many excellent teachers and mentors, and I had a lot of support from all levels throughout both my degrees. I received a first-rate undergraduate education at UM, and that inspired me to go to graduate school. I had completed a fourth year honours project with Phil, so staying at UM to complete a PhD with Phil was an easy decision. As an undergraduate, Phil taught me how to effectively run experiments, but more importantly, as a graduate student, he taught me how to be a scientist. For this, I know I received an excellent graduate education at UM as well, and I am grateful."

Geary is currently pursuing her postdoctoral work at the University of Texas in Austin. 

The Geary, Hultin publications can be found at:

Geary, L. M.; Hultin, P. G. Eur. J. Org. Chem. 2010, 5563-5573. 

Geary, L. M.; Hultin, P. G. J. Org. Chem. 2010, 75, 6354-6371.