National scientists do it for the love of genes

Saanich high school student spends spring break in Edmonton to work in a gene research lab

Mount Douglas Secondary student Hayley Roy is in Grade 12 and will be going to the University of Alberta this week to experience working in a research lab

While a lot of high school seniors are still undecided about where they want to go after graduation, Hayley Roy is an entirely different story.

Ever since she was eight years old, the young Saanich resident has wanted to pursue a career in biology.

“I was always the one going out and collecting worms outside when it was raining,” the Mount Douglas secondary senior said. “I’m still really interested in animals – amphibians and reptiles.”

This week the Grade 12 student is gaining the experience of a lifetime working in a lab at the University of Alberta, courtesy of the Canadian Gene Cure Foundation.

Roy is one of 48 students from across Canada named a “gene researcher for a week,” working alongside professional scientists to get a taste of what a career in genetics is like.

“They get that hands-on learning they wouldn’t get anywhere else. Some of the labs give them an actual project to do,” said Tracy Zeisberger, executive director of the Gene Cure Foundation. “But they also get to learn about the career path straight from the people who have gone down that road.”

Though she’s not yet sure what she’ll be doing, she knows she’ll be working in the human molecular genetic lab at the U of A, looking at the genetic factors in eye development and glaucoma.

“When we’re in high school we get a very artificial view of what actually happens within a university or hospital or any other kind of research centre,” said Amelita Kucher, science department head at Mount Doug. Kucher referred Roy to the program.

“The more real hands-on experience we can provide for them, the better. … Students don’t really have a good view of the possibilities that are out there,” Kucher said.

This is the 10th year of the gene researcher program, which has provided 280 students with the unique week-long experience over the last decade.

“The reason we do this is we want to take some of Canada’s brightest young minds, the ones who want to get into human genetics, and show them what it might look like if they chose this as a career,” Zeisberger said. “We’re hoping these people are going to be the bright stars in genetics research.”

Roy says she’s looking forward to working in the lab, trying out different instruments her school’s science lab doesn’t have, and rubbing elbows with some of Canada’s best gene researchers.

One of the criteria for being selected is the participants must write about their experiences and share it with the Gene Cure Foundation. Zeisberger said that’s the most rewarding part about providing this opportunity to young science whizzes.

“They come back so excited about their future. A lot of them say it changes their lives,” she said. “And the labs really enjoy participating. The kids come in wide-eyed, and it brings the researchers back to saying, ‘This is why I do this. This is exciting, what I do.”

kslavin@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Saanich council will consider tax reduction scenarios for 2020 budget

Coun. Rebecca Mersereau however warns of cutting additional funding for capital expenditures

CRD holding off repairing Sooke Potholes viewing area after winter landslide

Area likely to experience continued failure of slope, officials say

Jurors talk about trial of U.S. man convicted in 1987 murders of Saanich couple

Three jurors offer a window into deliberations during the trial

Sixties Scoop settlement tour stops in Victoria

The information session takes place on July 24 at the Sandman Hotel

Nanaimo man wanted Canada-wide after walking away from Victoria halfway house

Warrant issued for Jesse Goodale, convicted of aggravated assault

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

POLL: Do you use a food delivery app?

With modern life becoming more hectic with each passing day and so… Continue reading

BC Cancer Agency refuses to release audit’s critical findings, but discloses ‘positive’ findings

Information and Privacy Commissioner asked to review redactions of cancer agency’s triage audit

B.C. teens wanted in double homicide, suspicious death spotted in Manitoba

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky were thought to have been seen in the Gillam area

Countdown starts to 2020 BC Summer Games

Two flags unveiled at Maple Ridge city hall.

Memorial bench painted by Vancouver woman to stay in park for now

Park board to look at options for artistic enhancements on commemorative benches

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Weather Network’s anti-meat video ‘doesn’t reflect true story’: cattle ranchers

At issue is the video’s suggestion that cutting back on meat consumption could help save the planet

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

Most Read