CBR Research Day 2019

By Sarah Bowers, Undergraduate Student, Brown Lab                               

Have you ever wanted to learn about the cryopreservation of red blood cells using novel polymers or the future of skin cancer detection? How about social media tips or how many chop sticks get thrown out in Vancouver every year? Then CBR Research Day was the place for you!

On Tuesday August 13th 2019, the Centre for Blood Research (CBR) and the School of Biomedical Engineering (SBME) communities gathered to celebrate the work of over forty students who participated in this year’s CBR-SBME Summer Studentship Program. This special program provides students with an opportunity to get hands-on lab experience during the summer months. They also get to participate in tours of campus facilities, social events, and workshops.

The day started off with lunch, which was followed by oral presentations from the summer students. They all did a terrific job of expressing their passion for their projects in brief yet informative 2.5-minute talks. Their work covered a wide range of topics, from the development of tools for cellular engineering, to the investigation of diseases and the elucidation of new diagnostic markers.

CBR Research Day 2019 Participants. Photo Credit: Kitty Liu

Meredith Clark from the Kizhakkedathu Lab, who spoke about her work investigating endothelial cell growth under shear stress, was this year’s winner of best oral presentation as judged by her fellow students. The people’s choice award went to Sia Cecilia Jan-Abu, who thoroughly enjoyed her summer working in the McNagny Lab investigating the modulation of innate immune responses as a therapy for muscular dystrophy.

“I can’t believe how fast the time has gone,” she said, “It has been a really, really positive experience.”

The talks were followed by the presentation of the 2019 Neil Mackenzie Mentorship Excellence Award. This award is given annually to honour the memory of Dr. Neil Mackenzie, a passionate and dedicated mentor who touched the lives of many through his generosity and enthusiasm for helping others to reach their goals. This year’s award recipient was Dr. Georgina Butler from the Overall Lab. Dr. Butler spoke fondly of not only being a part of her mentees’ successes, but also their failures. The CBR community is grateful for individuals like Dr. Butler who go above and beyond to share their knowledge and passion for science with others. Congratulations to all the nominees.

This year’s keynote address was given by Dave Ireland, a speaker with years of experience studying, conducting research, teaching, and working in conservation biology and ecology. His talk tied together elements of storytelling, the scientific process and how it can be applied to real-world situations. Mr. Ireland shared stories that emphasized the interconnectedness of the natural world. Who would’ve thought that whale poo might even help save the planet by contributing significantly to carbon sequestration by phytoplankton?

The keynote address was followed by the poster session, where the summer students were enthusiastic to cover what didn’t fit into their oral presentations. The session was judged by graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and research staff. The best undergraduate poster award went to Jessica Ha from the Conway Lab, who presented her work investigating the role of CD248 in the differentiation of 3D matrix-free pre-adipocytes. The best graduate poster award went to Tanya Bennet from the Cheung Lab, who presented her work towards the development of a vascularized airway-on-a-chip.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a CBR Research Day without the delicious refreshments and BBQ dinner that were enjoyed at the end of the evening. Many thanks go to the sponsors of the CBR-SBME Summer Studentship Program for making this event possible, and the volunteers and staff who made this day a success, especially Hana Kim, Stefanie Mak, and Cristyn Fung.

If you missed this year’s Research Day, you can find an archived video of the talks here. Or better yet, find a summer student to tell you about their bleeding-edge research.