‘I was really passionate about the subject’
Sydney student receives highly competitive NSERC scholarship
It wasn’t until high school when Daniel Andrews realized science was of interest to him. He found changes and new discoveries happened every day.
When it came time for Andrews to apply for university, he knew the science route was the one for him, something he could see himself doing for the rest of his life.
“Once I started the program, I found that I was really passionate about the subject,” said the Mount Saint Vincent University student. “I wanted to invest as much as I could into my new-found passion.”
Eventually, his love of science led him to an interest in research. He started taking courses that tailored more towards the molecular and biochemical side of biology.
During his second year at university, he approached Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal, who immediately offered him volunteer work in her lab.
“She really provided me with the opportunity to thrive in her lab,” said Andrews, a Sydney native. “I always had input on what I was doing, she always encouraged questions and she actively challenged me to put in my best effort.”
Today, Andrews is working towards his bachelor of science with honours degree in biology. He has worked on his honours thesis for the past year and a half under the supervision of Dr. Franz-Odendaal.
The research Andrews has been doing involves bone growth and development in animals, and how the process differs among various species.
“Our lab focuses on embryonic bone development in the skull of a number of different organisms — particularly in chickens and many different species of fish,” said Andrews. “In a nutshell, we want to be able to understand exactly how, when, and why these bones form in the eye as the embryo develops in the egg.”
Andrews’ thesis, titled ‘Cell Dynamics in a Novel in Vitro Culturing Technique for Embryonic Chick Eyes’, has been published in print by the Department of Biology at MSVU.
Being published means a lot of Andrews.
“Simply having a completed hard copy of the thesis kind of wraps everything up in a nice bow,” said Andrews, 22. “A thesis is essentially a story — you tell the reader what you’re doing, what you’ve learned and why it’s important.”
Not only was Andrews been published, his diligence as a researcher and his presence at the university has earned him plenty of recognition as well.
Andrews has twice received the Science Student Society award. He has also been the recipient of the Sister Lua Gavin scholarship and the Lillian Wainright scholarship.
Recently, he received a Canada Graduate Scholarships Master’s program award valued at $17,500 per year for each of two years from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
Andrews said the scholarship featured a long application process that included a lot of writing and research proposals.
“I had to put together an application good enough to convince the funding organization why they should fund my research and why they should invest in me as a graduate student,” he said.
The scholarship is a highly competitive award. In 2016, the scholarship received 1,550 applicants, while 625 awards were offered. The 2017 figures were not released at press time.
Andrews will graduate from Mount Saint Vincent University on Friday. He will further his studies, taking his Master’s in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology through the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia next January.
“The one thing I’ve been telling myself throughout my undergrad, and to this day, is that I’m going to make a meaningful impact on health research or medical research.”