‘I was re­ally pas­sion­ate about the sub­ject’

Syd­ney student re­ceives highly com­pet­i­tive NSERC schol­ar­ship

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton - BY JEREMY FRASER jeremy.fraser@cb­post.com

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.”


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