What drew you to the RIC program?

During high school biology classes, I always found myself asking 'how?' and 'why?' and was never really satisfied with the answers. So, when offered the opportunity to be part of the RIC and have the chance to investigate biological questions that aren't well understood, it was a natural fit.

What did you enjoy most about your first-year RIC course, BIOL 2001?

BIOL 2001 was a great introduction to what the process of scientific research entails. It was helpful to explore a few small projects and experience different fields of biology. Further, the class helped form good scientific writing skills and presentation skills, which are beneficial for other classes.

What research did you engage in? Tell us what you have enjoyed most about your project(s), including any cool findings!

I was part of a genetic modification at the Lethbridge Research and Development Centre in my earlier stages with the RIC. Next, I did an independent study investigating plant cell polarity in Dr. Shultz's lab.

The majority of my time with the RIC was spent in Dr. Wiseman's lab studying aquatic toxicology. During an independent study in my third year, I investigated the effects of a brominated flame retardant on the early life stage development of zebrafish embryos. Next, in my fourth year, I completed an Honour's Thesis, further investigating the effects that same chemical has on zebrafish oogenesis and reproduction.

What I enjoyed the most was designing research projects to align with my interests, learning new experimental techniques, and presenting results at conferences. Some of my cool findings can be found in a journal article we recently published, another enjoyable part!

Left – Zebrafish larvae from my independent study showing developmental deformities. Right – Assessment of zebrafish oocytes following a hormonal maturation assay during my Honour’s Thesis.

What did you enjoy the most about the RIC program?

Some of the most enjoyable parts of the RIC include:

- Developing strong independent thinking skills and self-directed learning.

- Applying what I learned in classes directly into a research project.

- Having support during projects and helping the next group of RIC students with their process and projects.

- Finding a great group of friends and mentors!

What are you doing now that you have graduated from the University of Lethbridge? Did the RIC program contribute to your career plans?

I'm currently in medical school at the University of Calgary. The RIC definitely contributed to my application to medical school as it is quite a unique program. More importantly, though, I think it contributed by fostering strong independent learning skills and founding a definite interest in research which can be a large part of a career in medicine.

Is there anyone who has had an important influence on your experience with the program? This can be a fellow student in the RIC program, a mentor, staff or faculty.

All the RIC members (and the biology department as a whole) were important during my degree! Within the faculty, Dr. Elizabeth Schultz and Dr. Steve Wiseman had the most significant influence on my undergrad, both as supervisors within the RIC and as mentors in general. They provided me with guidance, the freedom to follow my interests, and opportunities I otherwise would not have had.  As a graduate student instructor for the RIC, David McWatters was always incredibly helpful. All of the Wiseman lab members played an important role during my Honour's Thesis. Last but not least, my RIC classmate Kaden Fujita became one of my best friends, and we studied together for nearly every class.

What advice would you give students who are about to start their biological sciences degrees and possibly embark in research through the RIC program?

My advice would be to maintain an open mind and follow your interests. Every experience you have is an opportunity to learn something new. The U of L has so many ways to incorporate your learning into hands-on experiences and the RIC is one way I would strongly recommend!