Why did you choose Concordia?
Concordia is well known for many of its achievements, including an outstanding STEM program, immersing students in a diverse and challenging curriculum to prepare them for futures in any occupation, and impressive alumni acceptance rates into graduate programs. I found these accreditations appealing, which substantially influenced my decision. Of course, my mother being an alumna may have influenced my decision as well. Finally, the campus’ comfortable size, relatively familiar location, friendly faculty, and great dining services tipped the scale.
What excites you about studying STEM?
I’m excited by opportunities to better understand the components and rules that govern our existence and distinguish forms of life from one another. It is interesting to learn how the combinations of protons, neutrons, and electrons result in different elements with unique characteristics and how these interactions result in the composition of molecules. The scale continues to increase as more materials interact with one another, resulting in countless unique products, hence creating the diversity we observe in our world today. The opportunity to study these fascinating concepts and to tread the borders of current human knowledge is humbling. Science allows us to maintain a more in-depth connection with our world and truly recognize the beauty of life and the diversity that we are fortunate to experience.
I also love that I am encouraged by my peers, professors, and the scientific community to ponder important questions that seek to understand the mysteries of our universe and inspire me to pursue challenging tasks. With countless mysteries to be explored, there is no shortage of work to be done.
What are your interests outside of academics?
Outside of academics, I love participating in any physically active recreation. I love playing soccer, basketball, Ultimate Frisbee, pingpong – you name it and I’m more than happy to play. I also love to sketch, lift weights, play the ukulele, play video games, and watch Netflix.
What are you involved in at Concordia?
I’ve been involved in a number of amazing on-campus clubs and programs including intramural basketball and volleyball, the Computer Science and Software Engineering Club, Cobbers in Action, the Concordia Neuroscience Society, the leadership club, and others. However, my two largest involvements are tutoring led by Heidi Rogers in the Center for Student Success and research directed by Dr. Krys Strand.
What type of research have you conducted?
Our team conducted Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) research via a zebrafish model under the guidance of Dr. Krys Strand. We encountered numerous hurdles throughout our research but, through critical thinking and teamwork, we overcame all challenges presented and the experience has been enjoyable.
Our research investigated the effects of socialization on development following exposure to valproic acid (VPA) in treated zebrafish, as this compound has been found to induce autism-like symptoms. The goal of our research was to examine whether socialization can mitigate some of the symptoms observed in an autism model. In short, we were curious to see if raising fish in social groups decreases autism-like symptoms. This method could then potentially be applied in academic settings to integrate children who are autistic into the class setting along with their peers instead of isolating them from other students.
Rearing fish for experimental purposes is more difficult than one would initially think. However, the beauty of having a team is that the work is distributed. I worked with some of the brightest and most dedicated students on campus. Everyone had unique qualities to offer to the team and I learned a great deal from my peers. I have a lot to take away from my research experience aside from growing in knowledge on the topic of ASD and the rearing of zebrafish. I am grateful for the research experience and recommend others to pursue an experience in research as well.
What words of advice do you have for students interested in research?
For students who are curious about research and interested in pursuing an experience, I recommend starting on campus. Reach out to your professors and indicate your interest to participate in a research project. It’s OK not to be an expert in the field or to be nervous, so don’t let these factors deter you from participating in a great experience. You participate in research to acquire knowledge and experience. You won’t find all fields or aspects of research equally appealing, so it’s important to obtain multiple experiences in diverse fields to gauge your strengths and discover your niche. If you find research enjoyable after an initial on-campus experience, I encourage you to pursue off-campus research opportunities. Whether it’s regional, national, or international, go out and explore. Be confident in your education and achieve your potential.