Being selected to participate in the HYRS (Heritage Youth Researcher Summer) program was really exciting as a high school student and encouraged me to participate in research throughout my undergraduate degree at the University of Lethbridge. Each opportunity led to the next, and I was able to get involved in research in the fields of neuroscience, agriculture, microbiology and cell biology.
Shannon Healy Knibb (BSc Co-op ’20) discovered her love of science at the age of nine during a visit to the Whale Laboratory at the Bamfield Marine Science Centre. She is currently a master’s student in biological sciences focusing on human cell division and natural products.
What excites you about science?
Discovery! It is an incredible feeling when you are the first person to make a scientific observation and share it with your research team and scientific community. I also love learning about all the complex pathways and systems that make up our world.
What sparked your interest in science and your related field?
My interest in science was sparked at the age of 9 when I visited the Whale Laboratory at the Bamfield Marine Science Centre, where my uncle Dr. Richard E. Peter served as the Director. I remember looking up at the ceiling in awe of the magnificent marine mammal skeletons and seeing the microscopes lined up along the benches beside the aquariums housing all kinds of beautiful fish. In that moment, I knew I wanted to become a scientist, and 13 years later, I dedicated my Honours Thesis to my uncle, and I am now pursuing graduate studies. Dr. Peter passed away in 2007 and is remembered as a distinguished researcher in fish endocrinology and as an inspiring mentor to his graduate students.
Tell us about the first time you felt really excited about what you were learning?
Being selected to participate in the HYRS (Heritage Youth Researcher Summer) program was really exciting as a high school student and encouraged me to participate in research throughout my undergraduate degree at the University of Lethbridge. Each opportunity led to the next, and I was able to get involved in research in the fields of neuroscience, agriculture, microbiology and cell biology. After graduating with my BSc Honours, I became a research assistant in the Natural Product Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Roy Golsteyn and I knew that was the right place for my graduate studies. My current research project involves using natural products to characterize human cell division during which I have had the opportunity to collaborate with researchers at the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto.
What surprised you about participating in scientific research at ULethbridge?
Participating in hands-on research makes you realize that every field, from biology to chemistry, physics, neuroscience, agriculture and more, is connected. The collaboration between fields is incredible, especially since the opening of the Science Commons. You never know what fascinating conversations you will have with the scientist at a neighbouring lab bench!
What words of inspiration would you like to share with the next generation of women and girls in science?
Try always to be involved in science! At the University of Lethbridge especially, there are so many opportunities to get involved. Contact professors to show an interest in working in their lab through independent studies. Apply for summer research positions. Or even volunteer with Let's Talk Science or other science-based youth programs. These opportunities will allow you to see what fields of science are out there and which sparks your interest. InnovateHER and HYRS are also excellent programs for youth to participate in science.
Make a gift to student scholarships and help support the next generation of women and girls in science.