Ty Dudas, a third-year neuroscience student at the University of Lethbridge, has truly embraced the institution's liberal education philosophy. While majoring in neuroscience, Ty's curiosity led him to explore other fields, particularly organic chemistry. His research in organic fluorine chemistry has not only given him unique opportunities to create new molecules with his lab friends but has also ignited a passion for working in the lab. His ULethbridge experience has been a journey of academic growth, personal connections, and a deep appreciation for the power of research.
My biggest takeaway from doing research is how much I enjoy working in a lab. It is incredibly fun to hang out with friends while creating new molecules daily. The feeling and excitement I get when someone in my lab or myself discovers something new is unlike anything else!
Meet Ty | Excited. Friendly. Curious.
Program: Bachelor of Science | Major: Neuroscience
Why did you choose ULethbridge?
I like the smaller classes, which let you make connections with professors. Building relationships with professors gave me an amazing opportunity to work on my own research project.
Did you know what you wanted to study before you came to ULethbridge? Has your academic plan changed since you began your studies?
I knew I wanted to study science but wasn't sure what to major in. I originally majored in biochemistry but then switched to neuroscience. Although I enjoy neuroscience and will complete my degree majoring in neuroscience, if I do a master’s, it will be in organic chemistry.
What is your research based on? What unique opportunities do you get by taking part in this research?
My research is in organic fluorine chemistry, and it aims to create new processes to make fluorinated molecules. Hopefully, these new processes will be used to make new medicines and agrochemicals cheaper. I shine intense blue light on metallic catalysts to form organic radicals, which are very reactive and short-lived species. I use these radicals to stitch together molecules to create new fluorinated molecules.
What is your most memorable ULethbridge experience?
I won the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) scholarship last year, allowing me to continue my research over the summer. The summer was very successful, and I achieved many results, winning the American Chemical Society (ACS) Division of Fluorine Chemistry Undergraduate Research Award.
How have your professors impacted your education?
Professors have significantly impacted my university experience. Dr. Jean-Denys Hamel has allowed me to do a research project where I do cutting-edge reactions which have never been done before. He sees potential in me to do great things and has done so much for me. I owe him more than I can express. My experience in the lab has shown me that a master’s in organic chemistry might be something I want to pursue.
Ty is one of those students that is a dream to work with, and he is a perfect example of how many factors beyond grades make for an amazing student. As a prof, seeing the excitement and the rapid growth of trainees in my lab like Ty is a fantastic reminder of why I have chosen this profession. Ty works on a project involving lights and, as a ray of sunshine himself, he could hardly have been a better fit for it! – Dr. Jean-Denys Hamel, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, nominated Ty as a Shining Student
Is there anyone else who had a positive impact on your education?
Taylor Semeniuk and Elaura Lilienthal, master’s students in the Hamel lab, have provided me with guidance and endless knowledge. My success in the lab would not be possible without their support. Kaileb Olson, through our many conversations about our research, helped me better understand organic chemistry. And finally, my wonderful girlfriend, Madison Gal, whose full support and sacrifices enabled me to get the most out of my work in the lab.
What advice would you like to give to a first-year student about making friends?
When you attend your first-day lecture, introduce yourself to the people around you. Then the next time you see them, it won’t be awkward and you can just say hello. It’s pretty cool because people in university are looking for friends and if you just say hello to them, you can see them just kind of light up because they haven’t talked to anyone for a while.
Have you received any scholarships and awards? If so, please tell us how they helped you throughout your studies. Do you have any words of thanks we can share with donors?
I won the NSERC scholarship, The American Chemical Society Division of Fluorine Chemistry Undergraduate Research Award, the University of Lethbridge Scholarship, the Board of Governors Scholarship, the Jason Lang Scholarship twice and the Rutherford scholarship. These scholarships have allowed me to focus on my studies and research instead of needing to work during the semester. The gift of time allowed me to accomplish much more than I would have been able to without these scholarships. I want to thank all donors who made my scholarships possible and enabled me to have the opportunity to create new chemical processes which will make medication and agrochemicals cheaper.
Are you participating in any extracurricular activities like sports or the arts? If so, how are these experiences enhancing or complimenting what you do in the classroom?
I curl every Wednesday night in an open league at the Lethbridge Curling Club and play in soccer intramurals. I also play badminton, ski and golf with friends and family. These experiences enhance my teamwork, leadership, communication and problem-solving skills and help clear my mind, which helps in class and my lab.
In your free time, what do you like to do? What are your favourite hobbies?
I love to ski, golf, curl, snowshoe, hike, play racing videogames, watch F1, play badminton, drive my car and try new food.
What are your hopes/plans for the future?
I hope to get into dental school at the U of A or do my masters in the Hamel lab.
What advice would you like to give those about to begin their journey at ULethbridge?
I would say connect with your professors as much as possible because it will help you better understand their course and may allow you to do research. Independent studies are the best thing you can do during your undergrad, so try your best to get into a lab!
Top things to do in or around Lethbridge: Curl, Golf and drive my car
Favourite class: Organic Chemistry 1
Favourite social activity at ULethbridge: Chatting with everyone in the chemistry lounge
Favourite place to study: My desk in my room
About Shining Students
Shining Students engage inside and outside of the classroom. What makes a student shine may differ from person to person, but they all share a passion for learning. They may be top students, involved in an innovative project, participating in ground-breaking research, playing Pronghorn athletics, fighting for social issues or all of the above! When students find something they enjoy and combine it with what they are good at, they shine.
Each year, the Faculty of Arts & Science's faculty and staff nominate students who exemplify the ULethbridge student spirit. Congratulations Ty!