UBC Reports | Vol. 54 | No. 8 | Aug. 7, 2008
Canada’s Rising Stars of Research
By Catherine Loiacono
For some undergraduate students, summer means patios and beaches, but not for Shaina Lee and Carlen Fung. These two UBC students will participate in UBC’s first annual national Rising Star of Research event from August 21-23.
They are among the 63 undergraduates from 27 institutions across Canada who will present findings from their recent research projects in the form of a poster competition.
Lee, a fourth-year student in UBC’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology is a co-op student who is currently working at the James Hogg iCapture Centre at St. Paul’s Hospital -- a UBC research centre aimed toward solving the problems of heart, lung, and blood vessel diseases.
“My research will give a better understanding of how our body controls the amount of immune response released when fighting pathogens and this could lead to new therapeutics to treat autoimmune diseases,” says Lee. “Talking about my research is exciting and this competition is a great way to meet other researchers and to learn more about my own work by listening and sharing with others.”
Fung, a third-year student in UBC’s Department of Biochemistry, is presenting a poster on the role of iron acquisition on the virulence of Cryptococcus neoformans. This pathogen can cause a form of meningitis. She is working in the Michael Smith Laboratories at UBC as an NSERC summer student. Her work is based on the 1999 outbreak of the cryptococcal pathogen that affected both immuno-competent and immuno-compromised individuals.
“My career goal is to work in cancer research and this event is an important learning process for me,” says Fung. “It is a great opportunity to present my findings and to think in a different way by having professors and students inquire about my work.”
“Rising Stars of Research is an opportunity for the next generation of scientists to showcase their research accomplishments and explore their passion for innovation,” says John Hepburn, UBC Vice-President, Research. “This competition demonstrates UBC’s commitment to undergraduate research.”
Students from a wide-range of disciplines will experience presenting and answering questions about their research in front of a large audience. Awards will be given to the top posters in health sciences, computational sciences and technology, life sciences and psychology, biochemistry and cellular biology, physical and earth sciences and natural resources and environment.
“We received an outstanding response from more than 420 Canadian undergraduate students,” says Francois Jean, UBC associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. “There is a huge appetite for undergrads to get involved and share their research.”
Part of the three-day event includes keynote addresses from researchers including Dr. Bob Hancock, UBC professor of Microbiology and Immunology; Dr. Gwenn Flowers, assistant professor and Canada Research Chair in Glaciology at Simon Fraser University and Dr. Tom Pedersen, Dean of Science and professor of Earth & Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria. Students will also participate in workshops on writing graduate school applications and scholarships and have an opportunity to tour research labs at UBC, SFU and UVic -- two co-sponsors of the event. The other sponsors are the British Columbia Innovation Council and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) -- Pacific Region.