TBRRI Contest Inspires Student Scientists
by Maryanne Matthews
Thunder Bay could soon be seeing an influx of homegrown, world-renowned scientists, thanks to the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute (TBRRI) and their dedication to mentoring young students.
For five years now, TBRRI has been encouraging the development of high school student scientists through the Summer Research Assistant contest. The contest is open to grade 11 and 12 high school students who are passionate about mathematics, science and computers and who maintain excellent grades. The successful candidates win the privilege of working closely with TBRRI scientists during a 10 week placement that allows them to experience what a career in science is really like.
According to Michael Mozzon, one of the four students hired this year, the chance to work in a lab is something everyone should experience. “Even if science isn’t something you’re particularly interested in, the opportunity to work in a lab is extremely valuable,” he explains. “It completely changes the way you see scientists, what they actually do, and just how powerful curiosity really is.”
Although science has always been of interest to Michael, he is now even more confident that research is something he’d like to pursue as a career. “Research is very inviting for people like me who are constantly asking questions, and wanting to find the answers for themselves. I also like how flexible a career in research can be, and that it can take you anywhere in the world,” he says.
Through his placement at TBRRI, Michael has had the chance to assist with a number of different projects, and has enjoyed the exposure to tasks that he wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. His time spent at TBRRI this summer is something he will always look back on fondly.
“I really couldn’t imagine a better way to spend my summer,” said Anastasia MacDonald, who was another one of the successful students hired this year.
Anastasia has always been interested in science and medicine and knew a summer placement at TBRRI would be a fantastic opportunity. “Since being here I’ve been able to witness all the different ways that research can impact medicine and how it really helps people,” she says. “There are such amazing things going on locally at our medical school and Health Sciences Centre and this experience has allowed me to see so much of that first-hand.”
Anastasia hopes to eventually attend the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and knows this experience will be an asset on her application.
Dr. Jane Dewar is a member of the selection committee and is impressed with the caliber of students who apply each year. “I have been fortunate to host a successful applicant this year as well as last, and both high school interns I have worked with brought energy and enthusiasm to the lab,” says Dewar. “I can remember being influenced by similar experiences when I was at that stage in my life so I enjoy the opportunity to contribute to what I hope will be the start of a career path in science for these students.”
The Summer Research Assistant contest would not have been possible without the support of Dr. Roxanne Deslauriers, Scientific Director, TBRRI and Dr. Alla Reznik, Associate Professor at Lakehead University and a Senior Scientist at the TBRRI, who provided funding to the project through an outreach program of the Ontario Research Fund-Research Excellence grant.
To learn more about the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute, please visit www.tbrri.com