Interview with a High School Student: Experience in a CBR Lab

JennyChikBy Jenny Chik, PDF at Foster Lab, CBR

Megan is a grade 10 student in a local high school. She is involved in an enrichment program through the Vancouver School Board that allows her to gain hands-on experience in a laboratory. She was placed in Ross MacGillivray’s lab in the CBR and worked under the mentorship of Valerie Smith. Here, we interviewed her about her thoughts on life in the lab.

What made you want to participate in this program?

Basically the whole purpose is that we look for opportunities to get experience in a lab, before we go off to university, so that we know what we want to do later on in life, in science fields. Each of us in my class e-mailed as many people as we could find. I decided that I wanted to work in the lab research field and this was where I ended up.


Megan Cooper, high school student working in Ross MacGillivray’s lab at CBR

How did you come to work at a blood research lab in UBC?

I asked my dad’s doctor who is a physician in a hemophilia clinic. She set me up with Dr MacGillivray who works here.

Can you tell me about your project?

I’m studying a patient with a Factor 7 blood deficiency. I am comparing their DNA with my own [healthy] DNA which I got to extract and analyze. I’m trying to figure out what is causing the mutation to create the Factor 7 deficiency in that patient.

Why is Factor 7 important? Is it associated with blood clotting disorders?

Yes. Within blood clotting, there are different factors. So if you’re missing one of those factors, there is an issue with blood clotting.

Can you tell me about the techniques that you have learnt so far?

One of the methods was PCR [Polymerase Chain reaction]. After the PCR, we will be sequencing the actual gene, which is the next step in figuring out where the mutation is.

Is there any particular aspect that interested you most in the whole project?

I really like doing a lot of the hands on stuff, getting to measure things and doing all the experiments on my own. Rather than just sitting with a textbook at school – I get to learn by actually doing stuff.

If you had the chance to do it again, would you?

I would definitely do it again. It’s a lot of fun and I like working in the lab.

There are a variety of opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to mentor high school students. If you would like to get involved in mentoring a student, please contact the CBR Education Program Manager, Anna Sinova (