science

Expanded Schulich Leaders program brings six award recipients to Dal – Dal News


Since its launch in 2012, the Schulich Leader program has provided two incoming students at Dalhousie with what has been described as the most coveted undergraduate STEM scholarship in Canada.

That number has risen to six this year thanks to the Schulich Foundation’s decision to expand the number of awards offered nationally from 50 to 100 for the 2020-21 academic year.

Through a new selection process, Dal received $540,000 in scholarship funding this year to support six incoming students studying in STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) fields. Of that, $100,000 goes to three incoming engineering students and $80,000 to three science, technology, or math students.

Meet Dal’s 2020 Canadian Schulich Leader recipients.

Lauren La Porte, Biology (Toronto, Ontario)

Why did you choose your program of study and what excites you most about it?

I think I knew I wanted to go into biology from a young age because I spent a lot of time outdoors in the wilderness. But I also wanted to tie in my love for the ocean in some way. In Grade 4, I learned about marine biology through a project I had to do, and I completely fell in love and knew it was a good fit for me.

I think what excites me most about it is the unknown, in the sense that there is so much we have yet to learn about the oceans, and I’m so excited to get into all the research that’s being done, specifically in deep-sea environments below the continental shelves because essentially these are foreign ecosystems that replicate what we would likely find on other planets but they are right in our ocean. I’m looking really forward to getting into that.

Is there accomplishment you’ve made in your life that you’re especially proud of and why?

One that comes to mind, and it’s not one that I received any awards for or anything, but it’s something that’s important as it made me very proud of myself, was starting my first club, which was a dance team at my school. Through this club, I was able to bring together a group of girls, most of whom had never had a chance to dance before. I was able to provide them with this positive outlet. They were able to develop personal growth and emotional expression in a positive way that it was really nice to see. The other thing is I come from a competitive dance background and to be able to be in a leadership position and share what I have learned throughout the year and even choreograph meaningful pieces was a really big push for me in terms of personal growth. One thing that really stood out for me was in the first year I choreographed a piece on the struggles that deal with body image, especially for young girls, which is a really prominent issue and something I’ve also experienced. We were able to go to the final showcase and show it to my entire community in Toronto. That was a really big moment for me because it showed that I had this idea to bring a small arts club to this school that was primarily academically focused and it was able to impact my school community and everyone who witnessed the piece. From there, I took that notion that anything is possible, no matter how cheesy that sounds. I definitely use this mindset with every new project I take on, so I definitely thinks that one of my biggest accomplishments.

What impact, if any, has the pandemic had on your own outlook and aspirations?

I think it has instilled an urgency to better understand the natural world because we can see in recent news that it is changing at an exponential rate. It’s increasingly important to understand in order to protect it. And I can think of two examples off the top of my head. One of them would be the influx of plastics from personal protection equipment like masks and gloves . . . that are entering our ocean. This has become one of my priorities now and will continue into the future, is figuring out ways that we can mitigate this plastic. This requires a collective effort between different clean-up strategies, plastic alternatives, general reductions and overall policy changes. This isn’t a problem that is not going away, and we should have creative approaches if we are going to tackle this appropriately.

I recently read a paper about how the blood from blue horseshoe crabs is being used for a vaccine in COVID-19. And although this is a positive advancement that will help reduce the number of restrictions and damage that’s been caused by this virus, I was left to wonder what impact is this going to have on the ecosystem and all the species that rely on this species? In my career, I hope to better understand how such resource extraction can be done in a sustainable way so as to maintain the balance of the ocean as well as to ensure that the numerous communities that rely on it for their livelihood are supported for the long term.

What have you been binge-watching or reading during the pandemic?

I’m not a big TV person. But as soon as the pandemic started, I took the opportunity to watch all the documentaries on Netflix and Disney+. I have already re-watched a couple of them. In terms of books, right before the pandemic hit, I went to the library and took out as many books as they would allow me on fungus. I recently read a paper that was talking about how fungus is being used to break down industrial toxins. I wanted to learn how this process works and how it can be transferred into other instances of human contamination such as oil spills. That was my reading for the pandemic.

Zachary Fraser, Engineering (Sydney, Nova Scotia)

Why did you choose your program of study and what excites you most about it?

Electrical engineering came about as a natural progression of my interests. I’m really big into music and from there I got into professional audio and that sort of thing. Last year, I made a science fair project that went to the Canada-wide science fair. Through that, I was introduced to electronics and how signals work and all that kind of stuff, all in relation to audio and music.

Is there accomplishment you’ve made in your life that you’re especially proud of and why?

I just mentioned the Canada-wide science fair. Getting to there last year was probably my favorite achievement that I’ve had because it brought together all of my interests. What I did was I made a drum tuner out of a laser. It brought together physics, then understanding sound and using electronics to bring all of that together. Then, the whole time it’s in this very musical setting. Everything was just sort of me. It was very fulfilling when I got to do that.

What impact, if any, has the pandemic had on your own outlook and aspirations?

During the free time that the pandemic gave everybody, I spent a lot of that working on music projects with a lot of community groups around Cape Breton. I was doing a lot of producing and recording and editing and tech support. All kinds of stuff. The big result of this is it showed me there is a lot of demand for the more technical components of music-making, and that’s especially the case among some of the smaller community groups like ensembles and stuff like that. This has given me some ideas where I want to go after I finish with school. Although I’ll have this electrical knowledge, I’d like to be able to use that in some way to help out the community and these groups that I’ve been a part of for so long. To give them more of the technical side.

What have you been binge-watching or reading during the pandemic?

When I got the scholarship, it also came with a book. I just thought it was another self-help book, but I started reading it and finished it. It’s called Get Smarter by Seymour Schulich. It’s got a lot of life lessons and tips. It often focuses on entrepreneurship and businesses, but it also gives a lot of ideas about what a successful person looks like and ideas for how to get there. That’s what I’ve been reading. As for binge-watching, I’ve recently discovered that comedic game shows from the UK are hilarious. My favourite right now is Task Master, but there are a bunch of them that are fantastic. British humour is just hilarious.

Soonmoc (Daniel) Kang, Computer Science (Saint John, New Brunswick)

Why did you choose your program of study and what excites you most about it?

We wake up to an alarm, and then we go onto our phones, looking at Twitter or Instagram feeds, we eat breakfast, leave for work. We see a cross walk and when the light turns green, we start to walk or drive. Then you enter work and a computer scans your ID card and you get on an elevator or an escalator. My point is that our lives are being controlled by such technology. What would happen if you didn’t have an alarm clock, for instance? So much of life is filled with technologies. In middle school, I helped show teachers how to use technology, simple tasks like connecting Bluetooth audio or saving a file in a directory. I also did some childish things like right clicking the views on my own YouTube videos. You can inspect the element and change the value to a trillion so it looks like I have a trillion views on my video. My friends were all like, ‘Whoa, how did you do that?’ That’s the moment I realized I was pretty good with computers. Then in high school, I found myself on computers a lot more playing video games and doing graphic design, but I also got interested in coding languages and things.

In the summer after Grade 11, I finally found my passion for programming. Something clicks in your mind when you find your passion, something you are interested in, and you want to keep doing that for the rest of your life. I paid for online courses and the textbooks all at my expense because I wanted to learn more about it. The world is already being consumed by these innovative technologies, especially with the pandemic. New needs are being created. And it’s this dynamic factor, the fluidity of technology, in computer science that I find really awesome.

Is there accomplishment you’ve made in your life that you’re especially proud of and why?

During the pandemic and quarantine, I was sitting in my chair and looking at my computer a lot more. I kept reading the news and researching about coronavirus and COVID-19. I found this guy, Avi, who created a website that tracks COVID. I don’t know how he created the website, but I take inspiration from that. I realized what coronavirus could do to my city of Saint John. I realized I wanted to help create a barrier, but how when these community non-profits that are supposed to be our guardians are shutting down. And if our guardians are shutting down, then we are more vulnerable.

So, I thought, well, why don’t I make a website that gathers the local non-profits in the community, and we can help people donate to the non-profits they are most passionate about. By gathering these small local non-profits on a single website, I hope it helps people realize the value of these organizations and help guide them to donate to the charities they love. I messaged my friend about helping create a website to help protect the on-profits. After a week of gathering people, we started work on this project called Saint John Donation Portal. After we developed the idea a bit, we made a social media for it. Our first follower appeared and the another and another. I’ve also released a website. Then the big non-profits in Saint John started to follow us, such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Make a Wish Foundation. There are big local companies like Saint John Airport, car dealerships. We felt like we were already helping people. We upload a bunch of videos on why non-profits and charities are important on our social media and webpage. As long as I’m able to help a small percentage of my city, I’m proud of it. It’s important to me.

What drew you to Dal and what do you hope to learn here?

My dream was staying in Atlantic Canada and Dalhousie has this big-name factor. I really wanted to move to Halifax, but I still want to feel at home. I think that’s the main reason I chose Dalhousie. Computer Science is growing on every level there. Dalhousie is spending more money and time to improve the faculty and that to me was really cool. A university that keeps on trying to make the field I enjoy better and better. That’s another reason I chose Dal. I want to research in the field and learn more about computer science without really having a reason to. At Dal, with the courses, the Dal Computer Science Society and the professors there can all help me out and join me on the journey.

What have you been binge-watching or reading during the pandemic?

I have so much time to binge watch everything. I’ve been binge-watching shows made by the God among men, Gordon Ramsay. He has such a way with words that is so charismatic. Watching him is so amazing. Who needs K-Pop, who needs BTS, when you have a one-man army that is Gordon Ramsay, right? He’s super entertaining to watch. I was stuck in that vortex of watching Gordon Ramsay shows for 24 hours straight at one point, I think.

Kiara Bergagnini, Integrated Science (Thunder Bay, Ontario)

Why did you choose your program of study and what excites you most about it?

I chose integrated science because I wasn’t quite sure yet what field I wanted to focus on yet and so it just kind of leaves the door open a bit. It’s allowed me to explore the different sciences. I found it really exciting that with this program you get to do a first-year research project, which most people don’t have the opportunity to do.

Is there accomplishment you’ve made in your life that you’re especially proud of and why?

An accomplishment I’m proud of is graduating top of my class, while working and volunteering throughout the school year. I’m proud of it because it was validating. It wasn’t always easy balancing extracurriculars and school, but I just feel like my hard work paid off. I volunteered a lot at a long-term care home, and I started my own catering business.

What impact, if any, has the pandemic had on your outlook and aspirations?

The pandemic hasn’t had that much of an impact on me because I’m still not sure exactly what I want to go into, but it’s interesting just how fast we’ve been able to transition and how we’ve been able to adapt to online. I just found that really interesting and to see how that will carry on in the future.

What have you been binge-watching or reading during the pandemic?

I’ve been binge-watching a lot of Black Mirror. It’s so interesting. I don’t understand how they could actually think of those things and how much it’s actually reflective of our society. I’ve also been going outdoors more and hiking a lot.

Rylan Cloney, Engineering (St. Stephen, New Brunswick)

Why did you choose your program of study and what excites you most about it?

For me, it’s just the fact that things are always changing and developing. I struggled finding something that I wanted to do because I know for me I don’t like to do the same thing all the time. I get bored really easily. For me, engineering made sense, because there’s always innovation. Stuff is always changing, so it was kind of being able to study something that’s always improving. That was a big thing for me.

I’ve always had a thing for building stuff. When I was little, I was always into robotics kits and stuff. I would always build them and take them and hook them up to my computer and program them and stuff. I really enjoyed building things and seeing them come to life. I noticed why I wanted to go into mechanical was because I was always geared more toward machines or robots or cars. Things that you can actually see move.

Is there accomplishment you’ve made in your life that you’re especially proud of and why?

A couple years ago, my soccer team went to nationals. I’m a big soccer guy. I’ve been playing since I was three years old. It was one of those things that you always want to do but you’re not sure if it’s within reach. The commitment I had to make to even play on the team was big. It was a lot of travelling, a lot of hours, school was affected by that. I had to put in a lot of hours to even been on the team, so to actually make nationals was a big thing for me as that’s been a goal of mine since I was like six years old. To see it come through and actually happen with my buddies was a big thing for me.

What impact, if any, has the pandemic had on your outlook and aspirations?

What I’ve noticed a lot more since I’ve been back in school is just to realize where the focus is at. The reliance on technology has been an eyeopener for me. Just to say, ‘Okay, this is where all the newest technology is at’ and to see how reliant we all are on technology. And how much it can do for us, too. Not having the social interactions. I think that’s been a big thing for me. That is a field of study I could be interested in.

What have you been binge-watching or reading during the pandemic?

As soon as sports came back, that was a big deal for me. I went a long time without any of them. I haven’t missed a football or basketball game since they started back up. There’s been a lot of soccer, too. I’ve been watching everything. Everything came back at once, so I was pretty excited.

Corbin Bowering, Engineering (Innisfil, Ontario)

Why did you choose your program of study and what excites you most about it?
 
It was actually my high school science teacher, Mr. Taylor, after my Grade 10 science class with him, he recommended that I join his Research and Design program that he ran at my high school. It was a specialized program that only our high school had. Research and Design was a full-day engineering-based program, so it would include a functions class, a physics credit, a computer programming credit and then an engineering-design credit. But you’d be in the same class all day and it was engineering based. I did that in Grade 11 and by the end of that class, I knew I wanted to become an engineer. We did a lot of projects. We designed and built a trebuchet, which is a medieval catapult. And there were a lot of other projects that I was interested in. After all those, I knew that I wanted to do engineering. It’s all problem solving and that’s what I enjoyed most about that class.

Is there accomplishment you’ve made in your life that you’re especially proud of and why?

In my R&D class, one of the projects was to build a two-metre long bridge using only cardboard. What you had to do was once you had it built, you would do a weight test on it. We were in groups and everyone did a bridge. This program had been running for three years at the time. A lot of the bridges would collapse under a certain amount of weight. What ended up happening was that the bridge me and my group ended up creating was actually the first ever to hold 100 pounds. We did the weight testing in front of all the parents in the school, and it was live and everyone got to see the weight being held. It was a good accomplishment.

What impact, if any, has the pandemic had on your outlook and aspirations?

It’s been pretty interesting. Definitely, the online schooling is a big change. That’s had quite the impact, especially coming into university for the first time and not knowing what it’s supposed to be like. Doing it all online is new for all of us. At the end of high school, there was a bit of online, but it was still too new to have anything in place. I can’t say if it’s a good impact or a bad impact at the moment because it’s all pretty new.

What have you been binge-watching or reading during the pandemic?

The Office. Watched every episode of the U.S. version. Binging out on Netflix.



READ SOURCE

Leave a Reply