SBC Alumni: Q&A with Uliana Kovaltchouk

Uliana Kovaltchouk was involved with the SBCC from 2008-2010, through grades 10, 11, and 12. In 2009, she submitted her project, “Molecular Insights on DNA Uptake and Transit Pathways in Saccharomyces cerevisiae,” a continuation of a project that she started in 2007.

What are you doing now?

Currently, I am in my 4th year of my Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Microbiology and Chemistry at the University of Manitoba. As a part of my degree, I am currently working in the Court lab examining mitochondrial protein complexes in Neurospora crassa.

What motivated you to participate in the SBCC?

Having been drawn to science since adolescence, I have always had an innate curiosity to inquire into the mysteries of nature. After years of developing hypotheses in my basement on topics ranging from improving aerodynamics of space shuttles, to increasing the bioavailability of analgesics in the human body, I attempted to perceive a larger reality. Having had two family members diagnosed with terminal cancer, I realized that genetic diseases take life away from an incredible amount of people each day. SBCC situated me in a place where I could be a part of the mission to help fight genetic diseases, while belonging to something greater.

Describe what the competition process was like for you.

The competition process was fantastic! It was a medium for me to share the discoveries I had made during the year with world-class researchers. Having pioneers of my field of research listen intently on what I was doing to make a difference, aided in transforming my sense of participation in my community.

How has your participation helped you beyond high school?

Science will always be evolving, and thus integrating what we have learned in the past with the modern view, is the essence of inquiring into science with a contemporary mind. The skills that I not only developed, but also refined by being a part of SBCC, enabled me to embark on a journey to ultimately achieving this.

The vast amount of knowledge gained from the program under the supervision of my mentor enriched my capabilities as a young scientist, and can attribute the success in my current research to having roots in the SBCC. The experience also, most importantly, guided me to pursue my career goal of being a clinical doctor (MD/PhD).

Describe your favourite aspect of participating in the SBCC.

My favourite aspect of being involved in SBCC was listening and sharing research ideas with the other participants. Being surrounded by people who shared the same passion for science as I did, served as inspiration to push the boundaries of current knowledge even further.

What advice do you have for this year’s participants?

The advice I can offer is to try to talk with the other participants. Sharing ideas, strategies, and problems is what drives science forward. Someone’s problem may be your solution, and vice versa; I feel that this helps interconnect scientists and their research. This experience may also help to better comprehend all the questions that still need to be answered in science.