Master of Science (chemistry) graduate Elizabeth Trofimenkoff (BSc '20, MSc '22) worked hard over the last few years to complete her degree and her research project. She took a few minutes out of her schedule to share with us her experiences here at ULethbridge.

This project taught me many things, but one thing I will always remember and be grateful for is that it reminded me of how resilient I am. Among many other things, this project was started and completed during a global pandemic. No matter how many obstacles were thrown my way, I always found a way to persevere.

What was your research based on? What unique opportunities did you get by taking part in this research? What are your biggest takeaways from being involved in this research?

I used mathematical modeling techniques to study the translation initiation of XIAP, an important protein involved in glioblastoma cell survival. I established four potential therapeutic inhibitor classes that may lead to the synthesis of new chemotherapy. This was a fantastic project that provided me with an opportunity to combine my knowledge within the fields of chemistry, biochemistry, and applied mathematics. My research project is one of five involved in a larger initiative to propose, derive and apply new chemotherapy to glioblastoma.

What is your most memorable ULethbridge experience?

My most memorable ULethbridge experience was when I was awarded the Graduate Student Teaching Award. I have always had a passion for teaching, and I am extremely dedicated to my students' success. It is such an honour to receive this award. I remember the tears welling up in my eyes as I read the email indicating that I had been nominated by at least two students. I feel so grateful to have the opportunity to teach and interact with the next generation of scientists, healthcare workers, and more. To know that I have positively impacted the learning experience of my students is the best achievement I can ask for as an educator.

What is the most important lesson you learned during your time at ULethbridge?

As Walt Whitman once wrote, "I contain multitudes." During my time at ULethbridge I have been a student, of course, but I have also been an instructor, a tutor, a mentor, a coach, a friend, a motivator, a baker, a creator, a musician, a caregiver, a reader, a writer, a movie buff, a cat lover, and so much more. I contain multitudes. Every person I have taught has also taught me something, and we are now a part of each other's life experiences. There are so many different ways to connect with each other and with the world, and by embracing, nurturing, and growing these connections, we have the opportunity to grow as individuals, and as a collective. If I contain multitudes, we all contain multitudes, and that is a beautiful thought.

Is there someone specific who had an important influence on your ULethbridge experience?

I am so fortunate to have so many wonderful supporters. My family and friends have been nothing short of incredible throughout my entire academic career. That being said, I would not be here without Dr. Marc Roussel. He has been an incredibly dedicated supervisor throughout the entirety of my research studies. His knowledge and experience have been invaluable to me throughout my academic career, and I am so pleased to have the opportunity to continue to work with him throughout my Ph.D. program.

Did you receive scholarships and awards?

I received a number of scholarships and awards throughout my master's degree. I received a tuition scholarship that helped me pay for tuition throughout my program. I also received the Dr. Barbara June Whitlock Scholarship, which provided me with the funds to invest in an iPad and iPencil, which I used, and still use, as teaching tools for online classes, labs, tutorials, and office hours. This was a great benefit to have during the previous online semesters.

What are your hopes and plans for the future?

I plan to pursue a career in academia. I have always had a passion for teaching, and I love being able to engage with, instruct, and inspire the next generation. I also hope to continue promoting equity, diversity and inclusion in the chemical sciences throughout my graduate and professional academic careers. In short, I am looking forward to being a positive force as both an educator and an activist.

What advice would you like to give those who are about to begin their journey at ULethbridge?

It is okay to make mistakes. What is important is that you learn from them. Now is the time to make new connections and try new things.

Elizabeth is a wonderful inspiration for future students at ULethbridge and a great representation of women in STEM. Her dedication to her field and bringing inclusion into STEM programs tell us that she will continue to do amazing things throughout her career. Please cheer her on as she takes this next step into the future.

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