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2023 VJKF Program University Projects 

VJKF Student looking through a microscope removing grains of sand.

VJKF student pipetting.

VJKF students do DNA swabbing.


Migratory Landbirds 

Kevin Fraser

The Avian Behaviour and Conservation lab in the Department of Biological Sciences conducts research focused on the movements and timing of long-distance migratory landbirds. Students enrolled in the Verna J. Kirkness Program would join our spring-summer field research team and visit local breeding colonies of the purple martin – a songbird species that migrates 10, 000 km between the Brazilian Amazon and Manitoba. Students will learn avian research techniques as they help to observe, capture, band, monitor nests, and collect GPS tracking devices the birds have carried over the past year. 

Parasitism and DNA Sequencing

Jillian Detwiler

Did you know that parasitism is THE most common symbiosis on Earth? This lifestyle occurs throughout the tree of life and has a profound influence on health, economics, politics, and the environment. In this lab, you will learn more about the diversity of parasites that are relevant to human and animal health. Although parasitism has serious negative consequences, you will also learn about how parasites can be used to assess ecosystem health. To illustrate this concept, you will get hands-on training in a variety of skills including aquatic field sampling, necropsies, microscopy, and parasite identification using morphology as well as DNA sequencing. Our goal is to help you appreciate parasitism’s place in nature while providing some training in parasitological skills.

Plant-fungal Interactions

Az Klymiuk

The Klymiuk Lab focusses on plant-fungal interactions, often in wetland settings.  Plant-fungal interactions can range from symbioses, where both plants and fungi benefit from living in intimate association with one another and exchanging resources, to parasitic or pathogenic interactions, where fungi diminish plant health.  During your week in the Klymiuk Lab, you will explore the diversity of fungi living within plant tissues using culturing approaches.

Cosmic Rays and the Aurora

Juliette Mammei

Have you ever wondered, “What are we made of?” In this lab you will learn about the most fundamental particles that we are made of, in fact, what “everything” is made of!  You will also learn about the forces that determine how these particles interact with each other.  You will learn about how we see things that are so small, or so far away, that we can’t see them with our eyes alone.  During the week you will measure the charge and mass of an electron, test the effectiveness of radiation shielding, and more – ending the week by building a detector that will allow you to see cosmic ray tracks!  You will learn how fundamental particles affect our lives from radiation and its effects to the difference between cosmic rays and the aurora.

Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria 

Ayush Kumar

Antibiotic resistance is a global health problem that resulted in the death of more than 1.2 million people in 2019. By 2050, antibiotic resistant infections are expected to kill 10 million people every year. Therefore, there is an urgent need to address this problem. In our laboratory, we study the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in bacteria with a long term goal generating knowledge that can be used to design approaches that can help treat antibiotic resistant infections. During your stay in our laboratory, you will learn about antibiotic resistance in bacteria. You will also carry out experiments to understand how bacteria exchange antibiotic resistant genes.

Baking a Better Bread

Dr Cristina Rosell

Would you like to design a new food product? Or learn how to develop different foods from grains or pulses. Join us in our lab where we will guide you through the steps that go into creating healthy and nutritious food products. You will learn how to analyze what is in the market and how to select a target food. We will show you how to mill grains or pulses into flour and how those flours have different characteristics. Together, we will explore the science behind dough-making and learn about the equipment used to analyze dough properties. And finally, you will have a chance to put your hands into the dough to make bakery goods, like bread or cakes. Learn about grains and pulses while having fun!

Foods for Health

Dr Harold Aukema

Students will be hosted by a team of researchers at the Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine (CCARM), dedicated to investigating and understanding the potential health-related benefits found in nutraceuticals, functional foods, and natural health products (health food). Students will experience lab procedures and see what graduate students do.  For example, they could do a protein assay, or prepare samples for nuclear magnetic resonance or Mass Spectrometry analysis and learn about the concepts of repeatability, precision, and accuracy. They will also shadow graduate students, learn how nutrition works in relation to disease states (e.g diabetes, brain damage with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders), and learn how functional vegetables are developed with high agricultural technology.

Farm to Fork: A Sustainable Agriculture Journey 

Dr Joanne Thiessen-Martens

We all depend on the land for food. In sustainable agriculture, our goal is to provide healthy and abundant food to people while protecting our ecosystems and environment. This week-long journey will introduce students to research in many parts of food production systems. Beginning in the field, we will observe agricultural and natural landscapes, collect samples of soil, and learn how drones can provide information on how to use the land sustainably. Back in the lab, students will analyze several important soil properties and discover how these characteristics affect crops and the environment. We will then learn about how grain crops are made into the foods we eat and how they are transported to where they need to go. Students will even have a chance to bake some delicious treats! Linking it all together, we will discuss how each part of the agricultural production system connects to our everyday life as researchers and citizens. 

Healthy Animals, Healthy Farms 

Dr Meagan King

Join Meagan King and her graduate students to learn more about animal health and welfare. First, students will learn about the connection between farm management and dairy farmer mental health to cow health and welfare. At the University’s Glenlea Research Station in the dairy barn, students will learn about how researchers are using an indoor GPS system to monitor cow behaviour and movement, to one day use machine learning algorithms to detect even the earliest signs of sickness in cows. Participating students can also visit the pig and chicken barns at Glenlea if they are interested. As well, one of Meagan’s graduate student’s will share their research that is looking at reducing piglet stress during the weaning process.

Losing ground – how soil erosion works 

Dr David Lobb

Exciting new opportunities are available for Indigenous students interested in understanding soil erosion and sedimentation within the land and waters of Indigenous communities in Manitoba.  Students will work with scientists and community members to design and carry out research studies.  They will be trained in making observations in the field, using sampling equipment and handling samples, making measurements in the field and in the laboratory, and analyzing data and presenting results. Specifically, students will participate in the assessments of soil erosion on the land, assessments of sedimentation rates in waterbodies, and the sourcing and tracking of sediments within waterways, all using environmental radioisotopes and other complementary methods. 

Microbial and Enzymatic Degradation of Plastics

David Levin

Synthetic, petroleum-based polymers are part of our everyday life because they are so useful, low cost, and durable. However, they are so durable that they are resistant to natural biodegradation processes. As a consequence, many synthetic plastics accumulate in the environment. Some bacteria and fungi can breakdown different types of plastic polymers, but their ability to biodegrade synthetic polymers is limited. In my lab we are trying to understand the mechanisms of polymer degradation. During your week in the Levin Lab, you will lean how we isolate polymer degrading microbes and how we identify genes that encode the enzymes that hydrolyze the polymers.

Water is alive!

Eric Collins 

Rivers, lakes, streams, and oceans are all full of microorganisms that clean up the environment, recycle nutrients, and provide nutrients at the base of the aquatic food web. Even in the Arctic, where temperatures fall far below freezing, algae and bacteria live inside brine pockets within the ice, protected from competition and predation. During the week we will use Oxford Nanopore DNA sequencing technology to investigate the roles that microorganisms play in aquatic ecosystems, and learn about the ecosystem services they provide, promoting the health and well-being of humans and other living creatures.

Ecohealth Learning Circle 

Shirley Thompsons

Learn how to fly drones and videotape stories of mino bimaadiziwn efforts as part of the ecohealth learning circle lab. Camp Kitigay is starting a permaculture community farm with the goal of offering education programming that builds community and restores the ecosystem. The goal is to build the capacity of First Nation youth to feed and house. The program involves Elders and youth to build strong Indigenous food systems working with nature and designing healthy, culturally appropriate homes.

Traditional and Quantum Computational Science with Applications in Electromagnetics

Vladimir Okhmatovski 

Today’s design in electronics, avionics, communications, and most other industries is largely done through modeling of pertinent physical phenomena on the computers. This practice is commonly referred to as computer-aided-design. Prof. Okhmatovski’s group develops conventional and quantum methods for computational electromagnetics with applications to remote sensing of Arctic sea ice, power systems, high-speed data links, and other areas. Students will be exposed to creation of the models, submission of the computational jobs to supercomputers, and visualization of the electromagnetic fields in complex applied scenarios.


Ricardo Silva 

In the PaleoSed+ Lab, we tackle big research questions to understand how past and current oceans control environmental change at various time scales. During the week, you will learn and develop skills relating to laboratory work and be part of a broad research group focusing on sedimentology and paleontology.

Tailoring Electromagnetic Waves

Puyan Mojabi  

In electrical engineering, we often deal with various forms of circuit designs. In these designs, we typically aim to tailor voltages and currents throughout the circuit. In wireless communications, we use the energy contained within the circuit and create electromagnetic waves (radio waves) using devices known as antennas. These electromagnetic waves then travel in the space around us, thus, enabling applications such as wireless communications, environmental remote sensing, and biomedical imaging. In Dr. Mojabi’s research lab, the focus is on tailoring the properties of electromagnetic waves, for example focusing them in one direction and then creating minimum radiation in a different direction. This goal is pursued through the design of thin artificial materials known as metasurfaces that can transform an incoming electromagnetic wave to a desired one.

Agricultural Marketing 

Alankrita Goswami, Julieta Frank

During your week with us you will learn about agricultural commodity markets. We study the different trading mechanisms, what are the factors that influence the level and behavior of agricultural prices, and how we can predict prices. You will learn some of the techniques we use to analyze prices and to make forecasts.

Bacterial Resilience

Claudia Narvaez

It is estimated that over 11,500 hospitalizations and 240 deaths occur each year due to food-related illnesses. Dr. Narvaez’s laboratory research is focused on food microbiology and food safety. Her research team is investigating i) foodborne pathogens' ability to survive in the environment and to resist regular procedures commonly used to eliminate microorganisms (cleaning and sanitation), ii) pathogen reduction interventions aiming to eliminate pathogens, and iii) antimicrobial resistance.  To develop strategies directed to prevent food contamination and enhance food safety, it is essential to understand what factors drive bacterial resilience. During your stay in Dr. Narvaez's laboratory, you will learn about bacterial enumeration and detection, biofilm formation, bacteriophages, and bacterial resistance to biocides.

The Tooth About Dental Hygiene

Gerald Niznick, Kathy Yerex

Dental hygienists are the 6th largest regulated health profession in Canada. During your week at the School of Dental Hygiene, you will learn how and why dental hygienists call themselves clinicians, educators, health promoters, researchers, and life savers. Dental hygienists work in various settings and capacities and are critical healthcare team members. You will learn about the vital role dental hygienists play in preventing and treating oral disease and how having a healthy mouth impacts your overall health. You will have the opportunity to explore and experience the diversity of a career in dental hygiene and the rewards associated with the profession. Here’s your chance to discover what the dental hygiene profession is all about; you will be surprised by what this career offers.

Wireless Infrared Audio Transmission

Faouzi Bellili

With the lower spectrum being overcrowded, there is push in future wireless communication systems towards higher frequencies, such as millimetre-wave (mmWave)  and Terahertz frequencies (THz). Our group is designing new transmission technologies and network architectures that are appropriate for higher frequencies and mitigate their blockage effects. In your stay, you will prototype a simple infrared-based transmission scheme that will be used to transfer audio signals wirelessly from a computer to headset/loudspeaker.

Coastal Oceanography - Examining land-sea Interactions

Zou Zou Kuzyk, Tim Papakyriakou, Jens Ehn, Kristina Brown, C.J. Mundy

The coastal oceanography group at the University of Manitoba seeks to understand how water flows and connects the land and ocean. We are observational scientists, meaning that our work is largely field based, involving data collection focussed within Hudson Bay and James Bay and their watersheds. Typically, we follow carbon flow through the system from the atmosphere (e.g., the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide) to its dissolved forms in the freshwater and oceanic environment. This dissolved inorganic carbon is then taken up through biological processes (e.g., photosynthesis) to form organic molecules such as carbohydrates that provide the energy to run ecosystems. Ultimately, some of the carbon is buried at the bottom of the ocean, essentially locking up carbon from the atmosphere over very long periods of time. In the group you will learn about these various processes and how they operate in the coastal oceanic environment as well as the tools we use to observe the system.

Hydraulics and River Ice Engineering

Shawn Clark, Karen Dow

Join us in the Hydraulics Research & Testing Facility, where we conduct experiments to better understand the complexities of water movement in rivers and on the landscape. Be prepared to get your hands wet as we explore some of the many ways that river ice affects how water and sediment moves in rivers. Don’t worry – simulated ice is used in many of our experiments that are conducted at room temperature, so no need to bring along a parka!


Unlocking the Genetics of Disease

Ryan Russell

Our lab studies the molecular basis of disease.  In conjunction with the Genome Engineering and Molecular biology (GEM) Core and the Russell lab at the faculty of medicine, student volunteers will learn about the basics of hereditary diseases and how we can use molecular scissors to re-create them in the lab.  Students will learn from students performing this cutting edge research and become acquainted with the machinery used in biomedical research.

Let there be Light! An Exploration of Optical Effects

Jeff Lundeen

Photonics is the science of light. In this field we are interested in understanding the basic nature of light, what is light made of? How does light interact with matter? How can we create and detect different light sources? In these series of experiments, students will explore the mechanism of an optical fibre, polarizers and its applications, and learn and perform imaging of different objects. Students will get to know our lab where we will show them our projects on photonics at the fundamental (single-photon) level.

Biology of Bees

Jessica Forrest

Our lab investigates all sorts of things involving wild, native bees (NOT honey bees!)—from their gut microbes to their abilities to tolerate climate change to their importance as pollinators. We will introduce you to the diversity of wild bees native to our region, show you how to collect and identify bees, and take you to see our live bumble bee colonies* in the lab. If the weather cooperates, we will take you out to some of our field sites around Ottawa, where we are studying bee behaviour and nesting biology. If the bees have started nesting by early May, you can also help us with data collection.                                                                          *we’d need the students to sign a waiver for this (and not be allergic!). The bees are captive, so stings would be very unlikely, but not completely impossible.

From Precipitation to 

Flood: A Sustainable Development Journey Through AI

Hossein Bonakdar

We will explore a variety of topics throughout the week, which include the following:                1) A new era in Artificial Intelligence (AI):

While all of us are familiar with the term artificial intelligence, you will be exposed to several interesting applications of artificial intelligence in the real world. AI is not reserved for experts alone, you will learn how to use AI as a tool in your own practice. I will teach you user-friendly AI software for data visualization and data analysis. We will install it on your computer, and you can use it freely in the future. By the end of this course, you will have mastered the knowledge about AI and will be able to put it to use in the future.

2) Find out about climate change: Changes in the Earth’s climate are triggering variations in weather patterns. We will explore why extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts, storms, and flooding are becoming more common and intense. We will learn how to take practical steps to deal with the risks and minimize or prevent the consequences of global warming on our lives by using AI. You will use your acquired AI knowledge to develop an AI model for predicting floods at your chosen location. Additionally, a lab/field visit will be scheduled during your stay.

Preventing Environmental Disasters

Majid Mohammadian

Industrial discharges often contain toxic material and, if not well controlled, are one of the most devastating natural disasters threatening public health and the ecosystem. Such damage to the environment could be irreversible, and the contaminated zone could be a serious threat to people’s lives. In this project, we will examine the potentially devastating effects of industrial outfalls on the environment. By using computer simulations, we will be able to model this phenomenon. We will also see how such events can be simulated in the lab. An important phenomenon is the propagation of toxic material in rivers and coastal waters, which can lead to catastrophic pollution. We will see how we can simulate pollution transport using experimental modelling in the lab and using computer simulations.

Tsunami Impact on Buildings

Ioan Nistor

Tsunamis are among the most devastating natural hazards that threaten public safety and lead to catastrophic damage to coastal infrastructures.

In this project, we will discuss the impact of devastating tsunami waves on buildings. We will see how this phenomenon can be modelled using computer simulations. We will also see how tsunami events can be simulated in the lab. An important phenomenon is erosion under the foundation which will lead to the collapse of the building. We will see how we can simulate erosion both in the lab and using computer simulations.

Greenhouses for Indigenous Communities

Muslim Majeed

In this course, the student will be exposed to all civil engineering disciplines. Students will visit research labs and facilities. General steps for a greenhouse design will be explained in the class and then students have the choice, either to build mini-scale greenhouses or add extra features to the existing greenhouses that have been built by my students which will be delivered to the indigenous community around the middle of June. In the case of constructing mini-scale greenhouses, the students will be assigned to  building different stages of a mini-house that includes mixing and pouring concrete for the foundation, wooden frames, roof trusses as well as solar power and rainwater harvesting systems.


Electronics - How Plastics can be Conductive

Benoît Lessard

From next generation displays for your phone, to roll-up solar panels and tattoos that detect sugar levels in your sweat, stretchable, bendable electronics can lead to new and exciting applications. We are a research group that focuses on the development of carbon or polymer-based electronics from designing the new materials to integrating them into prototypical devices to characterize their functionality. Come join us to find out how we build electrical building blocks from carbon based semiconductors and how these new materials will find their way in our society in the near future!

Crystal Chemistry and its Role in the Pharmaceutical Industry

David Bryce

Molecules can stack and arrange themselves in different ways to form different types of crystals. These different crystal forms of the same chemical are known as polymorphs. Polymorphism plays a key role in the pharmaceutical industry, because different crystal polymorphs of a drug behave differently in the body. In this project, the student will gain hands-on experience in developing pharmaceutical cocrystal polymorphs using solution chemistry and mechanochemistry. They will work with a team to characterize their samples, using methods such as X-ray diffraction and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.  The importance of patenting different polymorphs is also discussed.

Making Chemical Scents (or is that Sense?) of Plants

Paul Mayer

Steam distillation produces large amounts of water-based extracts (hydrosols) that are now being marketed as aromatherapeutics with claimed health benefits.  However, of the almost 1000 papers dealing with hydrosol chemistry, only 30 have involved the analysis of their chemical constituents.  We have a research program studying the constituents of hydrosols from common plant extracts focusing on ones that are already present in the marketplace. Harnessing Canada’s biological and chemical diversity for food, medicine, pesticides, biofuels, and other industrial or cultural purposes supports Canada’s growing bioeconomy through innovation and the development of renewable sources.  Students will prepare, extract and analyze a water-based plant extract during their week in the lab. Even better: they can bring their own plant of interest from home!

Brain Imaging and Mental Health

Clifford Cassidy

We are a research team that works on brain imaging research in psychiatry. Students will learn how to examine images of the human brain, recognize key structures, and perform quality checks. Students may have the opportunity to obtain an image of their own brain and learn how the scanner takes pictures. There will also be the opportunity to do basic coding and data analysis for students who are computationally inclined.

Act your Age: How Aging Affects your Immune System

Katey Rayner

Your immune system protects you from hundreds of millions of pathogens, each and every day. But your immune system is also responsible for keeping all your other organs and tissues functioning by clearing up any injured or dead cells. If your immune system isn’t functioning properly, there is a risk of serious infection, and also difficulty recovering from an injury. As we age, our immune system begins to break down and not function optimally. However, we don’t understand how or why this happens. In this project, will be investigating how macrophages- an important cell type that fights pathogens and helps repair tissues- change as they age, by looking at typical macrophage functions like phagocytosis (the ability to eat bacteria & debris) and mitochondria (MORE than just the powerhouses of the cell!).

How Effective are Vaccines in Preventing Long COVID After COVID-19 Infection?

Dria Bennett, Nicole Shaver

Would you like to learn how to make a difference in the health of Canadians? Our team at the Knowledge Synthesis and Application Unit (KSAU) conducts high-quality reviews of health-related topics to help inform Canadian healthcare and policy. We would love to have a student join us to learn about the importance of systematic reviews and introduce some of the state-of-the-art methods we use (including A.I.!). We will show you around our facility and introduce you to leading researchers in the field of evidence synthesis. You will have the opportunity to help us with our project looking at how well vaccines protect us against long COVID. This research will advance our understanding of long COVID and help Canadians make informed decisions about vaccination.

The SuperPowers of Shape Shifting Mitochondria 

Mireille Khacho

Mitochondria are known as the powerhouse of the cell because they are famous for their role in generating energy for cells. These organelles are also capable of altering their shape through a process known as mitochondrial dynamics. Mitochondria can become fragmented by a mechanism called as fission, while on the other end, mitochondria can become elongated through fusion. This balance in the fission and fusion of mitochondria is essential in maintaining the health of cells. Our laboratory has demonstrated that fission and fusion of mitochondria is critical for regulating muscle stem cells, which are the primary cells responsible for skeletal muscle repair and regeneration. We now know that the shape shifting ability gives mitochondria the power to release important signal messages that help stems know that they are now needed to help regenerate damaged muscle. Our projects now are focused on identifying these messaging signals.


The Indigenous Knowledge and Science faculty at First Nations University of Canada are conducting research on the prairie ecosystem in Saskatchewan and elsewhere, and the role of Indigenous knowledge in science.  Specific projects include the Chemistry of Food and Cooking and Indigenous Food Traditions to better understand the scientific principles used in the preparation of contemporary conventional and Indigenous foods and recipes using locally sourced ingredients; mathematics and computer programming related to the buffalo; the study of owl pellets, the diets of owls, and how owls have adapted to hunt their prey; ferrofluid activities that will explore the liquid’s attraction to the poles of a magnet; electricity  and electrical circuits; space-based robotics applications including simplified designs for Mars rovers using Lego Mindstorms robotics kits.

The First Nations University Kirkness Foundation project will be supported by the science faculty at First Nations University which consists of Mr. Jody Bellegarde (Cree; lab technician and lab instructor), Dr. Richard Dosselmann (computer science), Dr. Edward Doolittle (Mohawk; mathematics), Dr. Fidji Gendron (biology), Dr. Arzu Sardarli (mathematics and physics), and Dr. Vincent Ziffle (chemistry).  The department is supported by state-of-the-art lab facilities in the Regina campus of First Nations University.


Design and Building a Smart Robot 

Mahdis Bisheban

The students will work on the design and prototyping of a differential wheeled robot with undergraduate and graduate students. The robot will be able to control itself, make decisions and explore the environment and build a map of the environment. The students will learn/develop programming skills and will get hands-on experience working with hardware including motors, IMU and LiDAR sensors, and controllers, and also learn about the design of a chassis for the robot. Also, the student will develop their team working skills!

Maker Space Ideas for Engineering and Science Outreach

Geoffrey Messier, Laleh Behjat 

This project will involve working with 3D printers, robots and electronics in a maker space to develop project ideas to get high school students excited about engineering and science. You’ll get to build a few projects, come up with your own project ideas and give your opinion on what you think would be the most fun for other high school students.


Amin Komeili

In the iHADLab we develop wearable technologies to detect and monitor diseases. In this project, students will be involved in design and manufacturing of a microfluidic-based sensor to collect sweat samples. Students will learn the design process, and manufacturing of the sensor, and also will be involved in the assessment of the sensor function in a human study. Students will work in Life Science Innovation Hub for manufacturing of the sensor, and Human Performance Laboratory for testing the performance of the sensor.

Assistive Technologies to Help People with Disabilities

Svetlana Yanushkevich

People with disabilities face various challenges every day. Assistive technology is a great help to transform their lives. It includes examples such as text-to-speech, special keyboard, or a 'smart' cane navigating blind people. Which technologies will work for remote communities? Which ones will work at the time of disaster (such as a flood) and which ones will not? This project shall investigate the use of technologies and get perspectives on their advantages and disadvantages.

Sustainable Infrastructure and Wastewater Management

Kerry Black

Civil engineering professionals have been and still are involved in everything that defines modern civilization. First to come to mind are structural engineering (buildings and bridges) and transportation systems (roads, railways, transit systems and airports). Then there are the less obvious creations of civil engineers (water supply systems, wastewater treatment, aerospace innovations, automotive advances, ship building and more.

Energy Transformation

Sean McCoy

Achieving Canada’s net-zero target will require a rapid and deep transformation of the energy system. We know that this will require adopting low- and no-emission energy technologies (e.g., heat pumps, electric vehicles, renewables, CCS) and, in isolation, we have a good idea of their costs and benefits. However, we are less clear about how these technologies will interact as part of the larger energy system. For example, widespread use of heat pumps would dramatically increase electricity peak demand in Alberta, which will have follow-on impacts in the electricity system that could indirectly limit adoption of heat pumps or vehicle electrification. To identify these potential impacts, we can model the interactions of technologies in the energy system using energy system models (ESMs). 

In this project, students will have the opportunity to model develop a small-scale (e.g., University of Calgary campus or City of Calgary) system using a simplified ESM known as EnergyPLAN. This will give student(s) a hands-on opportunity to learn about energy resources and technologies, modeling of complex systems, and the challenges of the energy transformation. 

Students will be supported by a PhD student, who will prepare data sets and inputs for them prior to their arrival and work with them closely over the week to help them overcome challenges and barriers.


Quantitative Analysis of Acetylsalicylic Acid (Aspirin) from Tablets by Spectrophotometric Analysis

adMare BioInnovations

In addition to the active drug, medicines contain other inactive ingredients that are important for the stability and storage of the drug, help with absorption in the body, and more. These include binders, fillers, dyes, drying agents, etc. The amount of active pharmaceutical ingredient in a tablet will always be stated on the package insert. In this experiment we will use spectrophotometric analysis to determine the percentage of active compound in a commercially available aspirin tablet.  

Understanding the Fundamentals of Cell Culture 

adMare BioInnovations

Cell culture is an essential technique in life sciences from basic research through to vaccine and therapeutics development. Students will learn how to grow cancer cell lines in a culture dish and in the process learn about how and why we study cell lines, how they are used to better understand biology and disease, and how they are used to develop new therapies to treat diseases. Laboratory lessons will focus on important elements of cell culture, including aseptic techniques, culture conditions, and microscopy to observe and monitor the morphology, health, and growth of cells. 

Let it Glow - Designing Light-Emitting Materials

Zac Hudson

Zac Hudson’s research group designs new materials that emit light. These luminescent molecules can be used to create the colours you see in the display of your mobile phone, to visualize living cells and tissues with powerful microscopes, or even to power chemical reactions using light. In Dr. Hudson’s research group, you will learn how light-emitting molecules are designed, prepared using chemical reactions, and used in the electronics, life sciences, and pharmaceutical industries. To learn more, visit our website at

Plastics are Out, Biopolymers are In

Parisa Mehrkhodavandi

Parisa Mehrkhodavandi’s research group designs new biodegradable and bio-based materials using metal-based catalysts. There is a real and growing problem with plastic waste in the environment, and our group is hoping to replace some of these materials with biodegradable and bio-based alternatives.  In our group, you will learn how we design catalysts for this process, and get a chance to synthesize and characterize biodegradable polymers. 

To learn more, visit our website at

Building Enzymes from the Ground Up

Harry Brumer

In Harry Brumer’s laboratory, dig deeper into the way nature’s biological catalysis - enzymes - transform carbohydrates and other organic molecules in biological systems. In this lab, you will learn about molecular biology, protein production, biochemistry, and analytical chemistry while gaining university level skills in electrophoresis, microbial cultures, protein chromatography, spectrophotometry, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Using these skills, you will produce a recently discovered enzyme and use it in a biocatalytic reaction to make a valuable flavor and fragrance molecule. The project will demonstrate how we can learn from nature’s diversity to develop new, environmentally considerate biotechnology to make materials that improve our lives.

Designing Nature-Inspired Materials 

Mark MacLachlan

Mark MacLachlan's research group makes new materials for a range of applications, including oil spill recovery, alternative energy and chemical sensing. One major area of research is developing materials for chemical sensing and displays based on architectures that mimic colourful structures found in nature, including butterfly wings and beetle shells. In Dr. MacLachlan's group, you will learn how we synthesize new molecules and materials, and characterize them to identify them and study their structures. For more information, visit our website at

Enzyme Engineers

Katherine Ryan

Katherine Ryan’s research group studies how natural products like antibiotics are assembled in bacteria, fungi, and plants. The group employs a wide range of techniques, ranging from genome sequencing to macromolecular X-ray crystallography to synthetic chemistry. In the Ryan group, you will learn about molecular biology, protein purification, and chemical analysis. To learn more, visit our website at

Nanomedicine at Home: Developing Smartphone-based Biomedical Tools

Russ Algar

Russ Algar’s research group develops light-emitting nanoparticles as next-generation tools for biomedical research and health care. These nanoparticles are used to create fluorescent sensors for molecules that indicate health and disease, and are paired with low-cost and portable smartphone-based devices. Such devices can be used all around the world—even in communities that don’t have medical labs. In Prof. Algar’s research group, you will learn how nanoparticles and devices are designed and integrated for biological analysis. Visit for more information.

Imaging Single Molecules 

Sarah Burke

The Laboratory for Atomic Imaging Research (LAIR) led by Prof. Burke of Chemistry and Physics & Astronomy, and Prof. Bonn of Physics & Astronomy, uses Scanning Probe Microscopy to probe molecules at the atomic scale. Combined with a range of spectroscopies, these techniques allow us to understand the behaviour of materials from organic semiconductors like those used in solar cells and light emitting diodes to superconductors. You will see the ultrahigh vacuum and cryogenic instruments used to study and take pictures of individual molecules, and experience how we collaborate with other scientists that create new materials to predict new properties. 

Where There’s Smoke,There’s Chemistry: Investigating Atmospheric Aerosols

Allan Bertram

Allan Bertram’s research group studies important properties of atmospheric aerosol particles.  Atmospheric aerosol particles are tiny (smaller than the thickness of a human hair) but they can strongly influence Earth’s climate.  They also cause respiratory and cardiovascular disease and result in millions of premature deaths yearly. In the Bertram research group, you will learn about these aerosol particles and investigate their chemical and physical properties.  To learn more, visit

ASL Translation – Communicating with Code

Marley Beckett, Lutz Lampe 

American Sign Language (ASL) is the predominant form of communication for the deaf and hard of hearing community in North America. In this workshop, students will  build their own ASL translator using machine learning. They will learn how to train a computer to recognize the ASL alphabet and translate it into text and speech in real-time. By participating in this project, students will gain valuable skills in programming, machine learning, and project development, while also making a meaningful impact on the lives of those who rely on ASL to communicate. 

Water Quality Analysis and Treatment

Madjid Mohseni

Two students will be paired with a graduate student, and participate in water quality analysis and treatment. They will learn some basic laboratory techniques in terms of measuring and assessing the quality of drinking water. They also become exposed to some technologies used for the removal of contaminants from drinking water supplies.

Uncovering the Mysteries of Pharmaceutical Research

Clara Ng

Biomedical research is the field of developing new treatments and therapies for diseases using technology and scientific approaches. Four specific areas of biomedical research are medicinal chemistry, nanomedicine, gene therapy, and genome editing. These fields have the potential to revolutionize medicine and improve human health. In this program, students will work in a laboratory setting and interact with researchers to gain a deeper understanding of the field and how it can be used to improve human life. They will learn about how scientists use gene therapy and genome editing to change or replace genes and how nanomedicine uses tiny particles to deliver drugs to specific cells or tissues. Additionally, students will participate in hands-on experiments and learn about medicinal chemistry and the making and testing of new medicines.

Environmental Engineering and Remediation

Rachel Scholes

Students will work alongside graduate students as they prepare and analyze environmental samples. They will learn about extraction techniques, instrumentation, and the fate and transport of organic contaminants in the environment.

Preparation and Characterization of 2D Materials

Ziliang Ye, Jerry Dadap, Dongyang Yang

In this project, you will collaborate with a senior student in our group to prepare and characterize 2D materials, such as MoS2 and/or graphene. Your main focus will be on the characterization of the materials including the use of atomic force microscopy (AFM), and reflection contrast spectroscopy techniques. Throughout the week, you will be shadowing and will be mentored by the senior student while learning how to operate and maintain the instruments. Additionally, you will gain an understanding of the importance of 2D materials and their potential applications in various fields. This project will provide you with hands-on experience in material characterization techniques and help you to appreciate the significance of 2D materials in scientific research.

Growing Crystals of Quantum Matter

Mario Rivas, Megan Rutherford

Nature can produce beautiful crystals, such as the gemstones we often see in jewelry. However, these crystals found in nature represent only a tiny fraction of what is possible using all the ingredients on the periodic table. Furthermore, the conditions in nature are far from pristine and these naturally occurring crystals, though beautiful, often have high levels of disorder or impurities at the atomic level. In the Hallas Lab, part of the Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute at the University of British Columbia, we design and grow crystals of materials that are not found in nature. In particular, our group seeks out materials with strong quantum mechanical effects, giving rise to exotic magnetic and electronic properties. In your research project in the Hallas group you will get to learn to grow a crystal and investigate the arrangement of atoms in your crystal with x-ray diffraction.

xʷc̓ic̓əsəm  Garden, Traditional Food Systems and Indigenous Ways of Knowing

Eduardo Jovel

Students will have the opportunity to work in the xʷc̓ic̓əsəm Garden with Dr. Jovel and other faculty members, staff, graduate students, undergraduate students, and members of the community. Dr. Jovel’s research aims to investigate the relationship between Indigenous land-based pedagogies, and food sovereignty and food security in different contexts. Students will be invited to learn more about decolonizing research frameworks and qualitative research methods as ways to ensure the appropriate approach to diverse traditional food systems and Indigenous Ways of Knowing (IWK). Students will also have the opportunity to work in the garden, collect medicines in the surrounding forest, and participate in ceremonial activities that are at the foundation of the teaching, learning and research conducted at the xʷc̓ic̓əsəm Garden.

Exploring Machine Learning: from applications to security and privacy challenges

Mathias Lécuyer

During this week, you will explore Machine Learning (ML) and its applications, as well as the security and privacy challenges that arise when it is deployed in applications.

To get exposure to Machine Learning applications, we will follow different research projects ongoing in the systopia lab, from using satellite images to predict spring arrival, to demand forecasting, or manipulating robotic arms. We will also see how ongoing research in Differential Privacy aims to make ML models safer and more robust.

In parallel you will learn the basics of python programming, and use it to setup your own deep learning model on a simple task (such as image classification), and make it accessible as an online service. You will then carry a basic attack to fool the model, to get exposure to potential security and privacy risks of using ML models in sensitive applications.


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To increase the number of Indigenous students graduating from pure and applied science, engineering, and mathematics programs in Canada. Charity Registration #822843629 RR 0001

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