SFU Undergrad Researcher: Iqra Yaseen

Introducing Iqra Yaseen from the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry!

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Name: Iqra Yaseen
Year: 3rd year
Major: Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Supervisor: Dr. Peter Unrau

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: Hopefully something related to the medical field, as a surgeon, pharmacist or even just research. I’m very interested in how drugs and treatments work in the body.

Q: How did you get involved in research?
A: I was able to do a laboratory internship at an industrial facility in my hometown, there I learnt a lot about lab work and research. Therefore coming back in the fall for my 2nd year, I looked up some research labs at SFU that interested me. With a lot of new work in RNA, I decided to contact Dr. Unrau and he accepted me. 

Q: What have you been working on in your research so far?
A: I have been working with a PhD candidate to select for an Ribozyme that acts as a polymerase, except it has a clamping mechanism. This way if the clamp works then it doesn’t let go of the template. 

Q: What is a typical “day in the life” in the lab for you?
A: Our lab is a wet lab, so most of our reactions are run through gels. Since we work with RNA we usually run acrylamide and agarose gels to obtain results.

Q: What if your favorite course that you have taken so far in your degree?
A: It was the Chem 286 lab, as I found it pretty easy and quite interesting.

Optimization in the real world

By Cherlene Chang

     Cherlene_Pic1How does classroom learning translate to real-life applications? Well, the STEM Spotlight Awards offered my team (Cherlene Chang, BSc Kinesiology Major; Matthew Reyers, BSc Operations Research – Mathematics Major) the opportunity to pose a solution to a real-world question from Peace River Hydros Partners. Our challenge was to optimize the existing charter flight system in terms of minimizing cost and commute times of workers, which provides service to six flight hubs in Western Canada including Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Kelowna, Kamloops, and Prince George.

Fundamental to the formation of this team was the ideology of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and Simon Fraser University.Read More »

Stealth aircraft: the silent hunter

By Joanna Pater

We all know what an airplane is supposed to look like. A body with wings and a tail attached… and a cockpit at the front. A child could tell you the same.

But Air Force engineers don’t agree. It just takes a single look at the F-35 or the F117 Nighthawk to see that our concept of aircraft has dramatically shifted from what it was during World War II. From jet engines capable of reaching speeds twice that of sound, to even unmanned drones, the aircraft industry continues to evolve.

Recently, an image on the internet caught my attention. It was a side-by-side comparison of the B2 Stealth bomber and a peregrine falcon.Joanna Pater_plane_photo.jpg

The similarity is striking. But despite its futuristic appearance, this technology is not new. The B2 Bomber is simply one of many tailless, stealth aircraft. In fact, some claim the inspiration for this design dates all the way back to the German prototype Horten 229 of the Second World War.Read More »

Twitter and Science, revisited

By Lauren Dobischok

     When people ask me what my greatest influence was to pursue science in university, I think they expect to hear a vaguely inspiring story about how I was driven to make the world a better place or more deeply understand the intricacies of life around me. The real answer? Twitter. Upon hearing this many people are incredulous that material more complex than hashtags and memes exists on Twitter- isn’t that where people go to procrastinate on homework they have to do and complain about the state of their hockey team? Fortunately, over the years Twitter has evolved into a platform for professionals to network directly with each other, as well as interact with members of the public. Businesses, innovators, academics, artists, scientists, and the general public are now able to share content, provide opinions, crowd source, and meet new people with shared interests through a website initially intended to assist groups of friends in keeping tabs on each other. Not bad. As a student now in second year university who discovered the online scientific community in high school, Twitter changed the way I thought about science and how it is communicated, and continually introduced me to new research and current issues that I am simply not aware of through reading large, popular science magazines and websites. In my eyes, when academics use Twitter to network and educate, both professionals and the public are the beneficiaries.Read More »

Introducing the first issue of the SFU Science Undergraduate Research Journal!

SFU SURJ_2015-16_Cover_FINAL_Front.pngIt is with immense joy that we formally introduce you to the culmination of a project that has been almost 2 years in the making: the very first issue of the SFU Science Undergraduate Research Journal! The digital version can be read here.

Consisting of five research articles and one review article, we are proud and excited to finally share the work of these talented undergraduate researchers, and we would like to invite you to join us in celebrating our release.

We will be hosting a launch event on Thursday September 29th where there will be free print copies of the journal, food, drinks, and the chance to chat with other undergraduates, reviewers, and professors about science and undergraduate research! The event will take place from 3:00-5:00pm in the Bio-Physics Lounge (located on the 9000 level between the Biology and Physics wings).

Finally, if you are an undergraduate with research to submit, we are currently accepting submissions for the 2016-17 cycle! Further details can be found here.

If you are interested in joining the editorial team for the upcoming year, we are accepting applications for editors and a graphic editor until October 8th and September 15th respectively. Find the editor application form here.

Arts student makes fish friends: on interdisciplinary research

By Griffin Kelly

This spring, I had the opportunity to complete a research project at Salmon Coast Field Station (SCFS), located in the Broughton Archipelago, situated between northern Vancouver Island and the mainland. I am a third year student at the University of Toronto (UofT), but unlike most students and researchers at SCFS, I am not studying science or math. I am completing a double major in Canadian Studies & Peace, Conflict and Justice Studies. Students are streamed into science or arts so early in life – most of my peers, including myself, decided what subjects we were “good” at somewhere around grade 10. I chose history and social studies – the arts. The choice quickly seems irreversible as prerequisites build up and academic pressure looms. I studied marine science in high school, completing field work and scuba diving courses outside of Victoria, BC, for two years. I highly valued this experience, but considered it an outlier in my academic career. However, in my program at UofT, I learned about the impact of natural resources on national identity and conflict originating from resource or land disputes. As climate change continues, there will only be less resources for our growing population. The politics of resource distribution will become increasingly heated and inequitable if there are not legislative measures put in place to protect resources and the communities that rely on them. These issues forced me to recognize that I would need training in conflict theory, but also knowledge of climate change science. Therefore, I came full circle to my interest in marine science, and decided to enroll in an Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (EEB) research excursion course about salmon at SCFS.Read More »

Introducing the 2016-17 submission guidelines!

Just a couple of days ago I (Emma) registered our journal for its very own ISSN! I will be the first to admit that I was more than a little excited. With the release of our first issue just around the corner (details of a launch event soon to come!), we are already ramping up for the 2016-17 cycle.

We will begin accepting submissions as of September 6th, 2016, and with that in mind we have released an updated set of submission guidelines for the upcoming cycle. The full set of guidelines can be found on our website or downloaded directly here.

A couple of important changes to note:

  1. Rolling Submissions: This cycle, SFU SURJ will be adopting a rolling submissions system. Manuscripts will be evaluated by editors as they are received. If conditionally accepted, submissions will immediately enter the peer review process. Articles will be released digitally throughout the months leading up to the release of a print publication in September 2017, compiling the articles together. The final deadline to submit for the 2016-17 cycle is January 13th, 2017.
  2. Research articles: The primary goal of our journal is to foster and feature undergraduate research in a positive, educational environment. With this in mind, we have clarified our requirements of research articles. Research submitted to SFU SURJ must be original and scientifically sound, but it need not necessarily be novel. Negative results, replication studies, etc will accepted. This policy is similar to that of journals like PLOS ONE.

After a first year during which we were delighted to read about the wonderful research being conducted by undergraduates, we are looking forward to the next round of submissions! If you have any questions about our submission guidelines, drop us a line at sfusurj@sfu.ca, and stay tuned for the 2015-16 issue headed your way.

Curating an Education

By Clare Atkinson

As undergrads, when we talk about our lives – the jobs, experiences, opportunities, classes – the conversations regularly turns to the resume. An experience’s value can be judged by its appearance, or lack thereof, on the official document of your education. This categorization of education into the official, which we schedule and earn, or the intrinsic, which is ever-occurring and unrecognized, does the double duty of fragmenting a life-long thread of acquired knowledge and alienating young people from building a sense of self education.

I’m 20. That number doesn’t inspire a whole lot of self-confidence in the significance of my perspective, but I am getting educated as we speak, or so my CV would imply.Read More »

Some thoughts on Twitter, and accessibility in science

By Emma Atkinson

I am an undergraduate entering my fourth year in Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University (SFU). I ask a lot of questions, and I love that science rewards my curiosity by giving me a framework to tackle these questions. I love that my early scientific endeavours have taught me the fundamentals of experimental design, techniques, and analysis, and I love that they have also taught me to scuba-dive, drive boats, and hammer a nail (or several hundred…).

More and more, I find myself interested in how the answers to questions we ask as scientists are communicated (to each other, to decision makers, to the public), and how they are (or are not) translated into changes in action and in policy down the road. Perhaps the recent political climate in Canada sparked this interest. Or perhaps it was working in the lab of a professor who writes op-eds telling Justin Trudeau what to do.  In any case, it resulted in my investigating funding options for attending the Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC) taking place in Ottawa this November. While the organizers make efforts to welcome students including a discounted student rate and volunteer opportunities, it turns out that there are very scant resources for undergraduates seeking to attend conferences – or at least for this particular undergraduate.Read More »

SFU SURJ reveals the cover image of its inaugural issue!

Is it seriously June already? Emma here, editor of the SFU Science Undergraduate Research Journal (SFU SURJ). I am writing this post from a floating cabin in the middle of the Broughton Archipelago where I am spending my field season investigating the leaping behaviour of juvenile Pacific salmon as part of an undergraduate research project. It may or may not have been six days since I last showered, but more on that in a later blog post…

In the hubbub of final exams, papers, and last minute trips to MEC to buy the thickest wool socks I could find, this poor ol’ blog got a little neglected. But fear not! I know you’ve all been on the edge of your seats waiting for the big reveal, and so finally here is the winner of the SFU SURJ Cover Contest. We received a number of beautiful submissions, making the decision a tough one, but in the end it came down to Tessa Morin’s watercolour painting, inspired by Golgi stained pyramidal neurons:Cover Contest 2.jpg

The manuscripts for our first issue are currently going through final rounds of peer review and copy-editing, and we’ll be working hard throughout the summer to compile them for release in September. In the meantime, have a look the other wonderful cover submissions we received and stay tuned for a dispatch from the first month of my field project.

Submission from Devon Oakander:Cover Contest 3.pdf.jpg

Submission from Natalie Chow:

Cover Contest 1.jpg