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The Scientific Pursuit of Happiness
Julia Bayne, 4th Year CHM
Do you want to change the world? Of course you do - who wouldn’t want to be hailed amongst the ranks of Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, and Marie Curie? Unfortunately, Bill Gates was right when he stated that ‘life is not fair’, effectively crushing every 13-year-old’s dream with four words. And so, although we may not be able to change the world with simple mathematics or the earth-shattering discovery of sliced bread, there are still infinitely many ways we can make our own impact. In my case, I have decided to follow the footsteps of a young Marie Curie in becoming a scientist.
Now, “becoming a scientist” is never really as simple as it sounds, even when you surround it with comforting quotation marks. The path to scientific glory is often filled with twists and bends, catapulting uphill one moment and tumbling down the next. Regardless of where you end up, rest assured that we have all taken the same first step – a calculated plunge into the depths of science academia. Whether you study sciences, arts, music, business, or even the history of dodge ball, your path will lead you into the future and guide you towards self-fulfillment. When I began my journey as a science student, my family suggested a future in research – a notion which I shut down before it had even finished leaving their lips. Why would I ever want to condemn myself to the horrors of scientific research? I awoke that night from a nightmare in which I was dressed as a clown and forced to mix two solutions together for a wacky Heisenberg character. I told myself that I would never let that happen. Now, four years later, I realize that I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The Faculty of Medicine Summer Student Program: A growing initiative
Aida Ahrari, 1st Year BIM
From Newton’s discovery of the light bulb, to Frederick Banting’s discovery of insulin, scientific research has advanced our modern world in ways previously unimagined. As we continue on the path of discovery, it is up to the next generation of scientists to take scientific research to new heights, especially at a time when environmental and health concerns continue to affect a growing population. With that in mind, there is a strong emphasis on training scientists from a young age so that they can successfully solve the issues of their time. Fortunately, as a leader in research, the University of Ottawa is committed to training young scientists by providing research opportunities to students at the undergraduate level.
There have been several initiatives that encourage undergraduate students to get involved in scientific research, some of which are UROP, URS, and NSERC. These programs provide excellent opportunities for students to experience the laboratory environment and conduct supervised research projects. While exposure to scientific research is fundamental for establishing a future in the scientific world, other tools are equally essential. There seems to be a lack opportunities for undergraduate students to present their research to an audience or engage in a scientific discussion among their peers, both of which are essential skills for any scientist.
First Year, Biology
Early Ancestor Diet
Scientists from around the world, led by a professor at Oxford University, recently discovered that the diet of our ancestors from central Africa consisted primarily of tropical plants. After examining the fossils of teeth from three Austalopithecus bahrelghazali, the research team dated their fossilized evidence to be approximately 3 million to 3.5 million years old. The fossils of these early ancestors were found at two different locations in Chad.
The research team was led by Professor Julia Lee-Thorp from Oxford University and consisted of scientists from Chad, France, and the United States of America. Professor Julia Lee-Thorp specializes in the analysis of enamel of fossilized teeth. By analyzing the carbon isotope ratios of the teeth, the scientists discovered a food trend consisting of C4 plants. C4 plants are well adapted to intense sunlight, warm day temperatures, and an atmosphere lacking in carbon dioxide or nitrogen. C4 plants evolved more recently than C3 plants, and include sugar cane, grass, and grain.