Armed with the proper guidance and expertise, previous participants have been capable of the most extraordinary, top-level research projects, with many seeing great success – and even opportunities for commercialization. Here are a few of this year’s students competing in the SBC regional competitions.
Jennifer Ye, GTA
When I first entered high school, I didn’t want to pursue the sciences. I took Grade 11 Biology only because I wanted to be in the same class as my friends. However, my teacher’s passion for Biology really shone through. She introduced me to a world that I never had even contemplated before; her enthusiasm, support and presence in my life gave me a life long gift, and that was the love for Biology. With my newfound passion, I began emailing professors in the field for an opportunity to work in their labs in order to satiate my curiosity and expand my knowledge. I was fortunate enough to have a mentor who agreed to take me in and further encouraged me to take my work to compete at the Sanofi Biogenius Competition!
Describe what the research and competition process was like for you.
I wish I could say it was easy, but it wasn’t. In addition to my normal school work and activities, I had to commute downtown to the lab almost everyday. For the experiments themselves, I had to prepare the experiment and research the methods and materials beforehand. The next day, I would discuss the experimental procedure with my professor. If he saw the rationale and believed it to be effective, I would carry out the experiment, record observations and results, and analyze and organize them to be understandable for my ultimate goal at the Sanofi Biogenius competition. The presentation and competition day was the most fun part – all the hard work went into the actual process, and it was all worth it in the end!
How did you come up with your research projects?
My research projects come from a combination of my mentor’s interests and my own. In my own time, I read journals related to topics that my mentor was investigating and jotted down any ideas and concepts that seemed interesting and had good potential. I would then consult with my mentor as to which ideas were most feasible or which ones he was most interested in, and a new project would be born!
What did you research last year? Why did you change your topic this year?
Last year I did my research on inducing senescence in neuroblastoma. It was a relatively simple topic that already had a lot of information in the scientific community, but for me it was a good starting point to set a foundation. I changed my topic this year because I did not want to learn just a single topic throughout my lab experience, and wanted to broaden my horizons while taking on a more complex project.
How has your participation helped you beyond high school?
Being part of the Sanofi Biogenius Competition has really helped me with my time management skills. Research is a time consuming activity, and without proper organization and prioritizing, I could never have balanced my grades and other activities with it. However, I am grateful for the experience, as well as for the opportunity to be able to meet all the amazing competitors who also love research and further motivate me to work hard and pursue research in the future. It has solidified my goals all the while giving me experience in the field.
Describe your favourite aspect of participating in the SBC.
My favourite aspect of the SBC is the competition day! In addition to finally being able to present your own work to professionals in the field, you’re also able to see all the mind-blowing work that other students your age are working on. I love listening to their presentations and seeing their faces light up as they talk about what they have discovered! It also allows me to learn about new topics that I may be potentially interested in reading about or even investigating as a future research project.
What advice do you have for this year’s participants?
While research is important, don’t forget about your school work as well! Keeping organized will help you succeed, and don’t forget that you have the support of your mentor and all your teachers who you can talk to. Don’t be afraid if there’s something you don’t know or don’t understand,; after all, you are a high school student who’s just getting their feet wet. You’ll feel much better getting clarification on an experiment rather than diving into it headfirst without understanding it and doing it wrong. Finally, don’t worry about the competition, all your hard work will pay off!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Sometimes at the lab, it still doesn’t feel real. Never would I have dreamed that I would be lucky enough to be working in lab and presenting my discoveries to professionals! I appreciate SBC for providing the environment and platform for passionate students like me to live their dream as a researcher. Thank you so much!