CBR Research Day 2015: In Review

authorsBy Erika Siren, Tara Fernandez, and Rolinda Carter

The annual CBR Research Day is held to celebrate the end of the Summer Studentship Program, wherein undergraduates embarked on a research project under the expert guidance of the CBR members. This year, the day began with enthusiastic summer students gathering in the atrium of the Life Science Center, proudly bearing their posters to be presented. Attending members represented all arms of the CBR, including colleagues based at Vancouver General Hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital, the BC Children and Women’s Hospital, the BC Cancer Agency, Michael Smith Labs and the Biomedical Research Centre.

summer students_RD2015_1

CBR summer students 2015

First on the agenda were the oral presentations, where students were given 3 minutes each, to share their research accomplishments – and at times experimental woes – over the course of the summer. For many, this was their first time delivering a talk to a large crowd of academics, a daunting task but important milestone for budding scientists. Some students managed to get a rousing applause and many hearty laughs for their comedic flair and unique portrayal of their work. The CBR Associate Director, Dr. Ed Pryzdial, commented that this was, in his opinion, the best aspect of Research Day. The students were also given the task of critiquing each other’s talks to determine the winner of the Best Student Presenter prize. Tony Fang from the Devine Lab took the title with his engaging presentation, which at parts had the audience in stitches. Tony was ecstatic about his win, but also emphasized that the award was not just recognizing his efforts over the summer, but that of the entire Devine Lab.


Image 1: Dr.Conway with Tony Fang (best oral presentation); Image 2: Dr. Conway with Steve Hur (mentorship award) and Dr. Bromme; Image 3: Dr. Conway with Calvin Biddle (best poster presentation)

The inaugural Neil Mackenzie Mentorship Excellence Award was also presented to the CBR member exemplifying Neil’s outstanding leadership qualities and dedication to teamwork. Nominations for the award were plentiful, with the efforts of many CBR members being highlighted by their colleagues. Judged by Neil’s close friends and colleagues, the recipient of this year’s award was Steve Hur, from the Kastrup Lab. Steve was humbled and extremely grateful for the nomination by his labmates. Speaking on what inspires him to be a good mentor, he commented that witnessing that “click” moment when a mentee understands something he teaches is the greatest reward.


Dr. MacGillivray with Dr. Milsom

The proceedings continued with this year’s keynote speaker, Dr. William K. Milsom, a Professor from the Department of Zoology at UBC. His talk highlighted his fascinating research on the physiological adaptations that enable bar-headed geese to fly over the Himalayas during their annual migration. He praised the efforts of all involved in the CBR Summer Studentship Program and stressed his desire for more students and departments to become aware and take advantage of the program.

Poster judges, comprising of postdocs and research staff, then had the challenging undertaking of critiquing the summer students’ poster presentations. The scores were close for the top posters, but ultimately, the title went to Calvin Biddle, a 4th year co-op student in Dr. Hugh Kim’s lab. His poster entitled “Platelet factor 4 (PF4) signaling in human gingival fibroblasts” highlighted the role of PF4 in secreting matrix metalloproteinase-1, a collagenase involved in tissue remodeling.  Calvin expressed his gratitude for the Summer Studentship opportunity, as it provided him with valuable experience both socially and academically. He encourages other undergraduate students interested in research and gaining graduate school experience to take advantage of this great gateway program.

Overall, for summer students and CBR researchers alike, it is hard to believe that the summer semester is coming to a close. On behalf of the CBR, we would like to thank the summer students for the hard work put towards their scientific pursuits, and wish them the best in their future studies!