Our Stories

St.Amant Research Centre Student Recognized for Excellence: A Journey Inspired by her Son

August 15, 2023

Maria Baranowski, PhD student and Mitacs Accelerate intern at the St.Amant Research Centre since 2020, has received multiple awards for her remarkable academic accomplishments and unwavering dedication to the disability sector, a journey which she chose in honour of her son, Nick.

Maria’s exceptional leadership skills and outstanding contributions to the community have led her to receive the Emerging Leaders of the University of Manitoba award, the Graduate Student Merit award, and the Lois M. Brockman Student Thesis Research Fellowship in Child Development. 

She says, “It is overwhelming to receive such generous recognition, and I am deeply grateful! It feels wonderful that others value the type of research I am proposing to do and are supporting my work and performance in the doctoral program.”

But family is everything to Maria, and her children inspire her each day. She says, “When my youngest son Nick was diagnosed with Trisomy 21 shortly after he was born, I was blessed with an amazing opportunity to love and raise a child born with a condition that is considered by others as an intellectual and developmental disability.”

Maria’s background is in human nutritional sciences, and she has been a dietitian for 17 years. Her son sparked something in her; she says, “After some investigation, I learned that there is a lack of research and knowledge about the nutritional status and needs of Canadians born with Trisomy 21.” 

This revelation led her down the path to pursue a doctoral degree in Interdisciplinary Studies so that she can conduct an inclusive research project aimed at determining the dietary intake, nutritional status, and lived experience of receiving nutrition services of children born with Trisomy 21, like Nick, and their caregivers living in Manitoba.

When asked what she loves most about this line of work, she says, “There is nothing better than engaging in purposeful work to help someone else. I am passionate about my work and hope to create meaningful change and health and nutrition equity for all those considered to be living with an intellectual and developmental disability.”

About St.Amant Research Centre

St.Amant Research Centre improves the quality of life for people with developmental disabilities and autism through research and education. We use a multidisciplinary approach to create new knowledge and translate our research into helpful information for caregivers, support staff, and policymakers.

Thanks to the generous community, St.Amant Foundation funds research projects to create a world where all people can develop to their fullest potential regardless of their abilities.

St.Amant Research Centre is a partnership between St.Amant and the University of Manitoba. For more information about this important work, visit: stamant.ca/research

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