Michelle Liu selected as Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholar

Posted on Tuesday, May 31, 2022

The Centre for Law, Technology and Society is delighted to announce that PhD Candidate Michelle Liu has been selected as a 2022-2025 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholar, one of the most prestigious national awards in Canada.

Michelle Liu was awarded the prestigious scholarship to support her PhD studies in civil engineering at the Faculy of Engineering at the University of Ottawa, under the joint supervision of Prof. Beatriz Martin-Perez in the Faculty of Engineering, and CLTS Faculty member Prof. Jena McGill in the Faculty of Law.

In addition to her full-time studies at the PhD in engineering, Michelle Liu is concurrently a full-time JD candidate in the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section. She is the first person at the University of Ottawa to pursue both degrees concurrently. 

Her doctoral project focuses on evaluating Canadian building standards and policies through an equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) lens and examining the EDI-related opportunities and challenges facing the engineering profession in meeting its statutory public interest mandates. Her doctoral proposal and leadership record both scholarly and in the community has placed her among the 2022-2025 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholars, one of Canada’s most prestigious doctoral awards. 


The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholarship is a three-year leadership program designed to train engaged leaders, equipping outstanding doctoral candidates with the skills to translate their ideas into action for the betterment of their communities, Canada, and the world. Scholars receive leadership training in addition to funding for their studies. 

Out of 500 applicants, Michelle Liu was one of 13 selected. The 13 Scholars selected, representing 10 Canadian and international universities, were chosen not just for their academic excellence but also for their creativity, leadership potential, agility, resilience, commitment to a diversity of perspectives and, finally, their ability to engage in nuanced critical thinking about complex issues. 


In Michelle Liu’s words, “Making it this far reminds me that only 13% of over 170,000 engineers in Canada identify as women, less than 1% of woman-identifying engineers become academics, and the statistics do not exist for other gender identities and expressions nor 2SLGBTQ+, disabled, neuro-divergent, and racialized groups in engineering, among others. I hope to move the needle slightly by being visible in important spaces, by mentoring and empowering equity-seeking youths considering engineering, and by going to law school to gain the tools I need to speak up in the engineering profession. I invite equity-seeking high school students considering engineering and current engineering students across Canada to reach out to me for support, mentorship, and networking opportunities!”. 


Michelle Liu’s identities and experiences motivate her to serve in roles that advance EDI, including as a member of the Equity Advisory Group of the Law Society of Ontario and Chair of the Waterloo Engineering Alumni Council. Engineers Canada named Michelle Liu one of thirteen EDI Leaders in Engineering Workplaces in 2021-2022, which followed her 2019 Certificate of Recognition from City of Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky for her community contributions, and her Kitchener-Waterloo Women of the Year finalist standing in the same year, among other awards. Michelle Liu was the 2021 recipient of the University of Ottawa Rovinescu Award of Excellence for Community Service. 

Until recently, Michelle Liu was the Program Coordinator for CLTS-hosted The eQuality Project. As a JD student, she has been the President of the Common Law Student Society (AÉCLSS), the Co-President of OUTLaw, and one of the Faculty of Law Representatives on the University Senate in 2021-2022, and has been re-elected to all three roles for 2022-2023. 

Michelle Liu earned her Honours BASc and MASc in civil engineering from the University of Waterloo and has worked in construction and design at national and international engineering firms. Michelle Liu also worked at the law firm Blake, Cassels & Graydon, where she will be articling in 2023 while continuing her doctoral work.  

Michelle Liu aspires to become an academic at the intersection of engineering and law, a goal she believes the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholarship program will help her achieve. 


The Centre would like to extend their congratulations to David Eliot, who was also selected as a 2022-2025 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholar. You can read his announcement here.

Back to top