This past summer marked the launch of the Faculty of Arts and Science new Accessibility Summer Research Internships. This internship provides opportunity for undergraduate students from underrepresented groups to gain direct research experience in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Spearheaded by the unwavering support of Don and Bonnie Poole, these internships reflect Concordia's commitment to fostering diversity in STEM research. The 16-week internship provided students with an opportunity to experience what pursuing graduate studies could be like.
Six remarkable students from diverse backgrounds and paths participated in the initiative. They agreed to share how their unique experiences, challenges, and achievements have helped shape their own future.
Georgia Brooks' odyssey in applied mathematics under Jason Bramburger's guidance allowed her to learn new ways of thinking about and approaching computational applied mathematics problems. Her exploration in particle motion modeling and resilience in reassessing the approach demonstrates a commitment to excellence and dedication in improving accuracy. “It was truly a life-changing experience and I enjoyed every minute of it,” expresses Georgia. “It allowed me to follow my passion and I feel extremely lucky to have been awarded that opportunity.”
Jahnai Francis, delving into the world of solar energy conversion with his supervisor Marek Majewski, experienced a transformative journey that inspired a shift from Biochemistry to groundbreaking inorganic chemistry research. Jahnai's contributions and dedication led to a co-authored a paper, not a small feat! “This experience was unlike any other,” explains Jahnai. “It allowed me to learn more about being a researcher as opposed to a student. The research work has illuminated something in me, that may lead to me pursuing graduate studies with Dr. Majewski in the coming year!” The broadening of his academic focus illustrates the significant impact of the Poole internship.
Lara Jakalian's ambitious endeavor to explore physics models that can better explain and model fundamental forces and particles in our universe (known in the field as the Standard Model), stands as a testament to the exciting opportunities this program affords. Her work alongside Mariana Frank identified solutions to instability issues in the model that occur at high energies. This research, enriched by computational tools and a quest to uncover potential dark matter candidates, has set Lara on a trajectory toward graduate studies, instilling within her a profound commitment to advancing particle physics. “The experience was invaluable and will help me in moving forward with my academic goals,” shares Lara.
Nuria Larochelle's journey through the realm of cognitive mapping took place under the guidance of Matthew Gardner. Nuria's hands-on experience enhanced her research skills, equipped her with critical analytical capabilities advanced her technical proficiency through access to specialized resources, such as state-of-the-art laboratory equipment, research databases, and scholarly journals. “The summer research internship has not only deepened my passion for research and academic exploration but has also fortified my commitment to pursuing a career in the field of Behavioural Neuroscience,” explains Nuria.
Alysh Orr, in her exploration of genetic interactions in Triple Negative Breast Cancer, underlines the transformative power of the Poole Internship. Alysh's involvement in understanding and validating genetic interactions in Elena Kuzmin’s lab, combined with her honed skills in scientific techniques, has laid the groundwork for a remarkable journey in science. “This internship gave me an opportunity to learn and develop laboratory and professional skills that will support me throughout my degree and future career in the field of science,” says Alysh.
Danielle Bou Rjeily's exploration at the intersection of psychology and theatre stands as a prime example of the interdisciplinary possibilities this internship fosters. Her dedication and enthusiasm for research have not only provided invaluable insights into physiological stress responses but also laid a robust foundation for a future dedicated to assisting individuals coping with stress and trauma. “Under the supervision of Emily Coffey, I have received enriching training in using various technological tools,” says Danielle. “This knowledge, combined with the problem-solving skills and confidence I acquired, will undoubtedly benefit my academic and clinical journey.”
These research internships are specifically targeted to improving accessibility to and fostering diversity in STEM research. For the students involved they not only stimulate interest; they provide them with an opportunity to evaluate different research fields and amplify their chances to access scholarships and research options for graduate study and future careers in STEM.
The six students’ narratives echo a chorus of gratitude and promise—a gratitude to Don and Bonnie Poole for their generous support and a promise to continue enriching the realms of academic research. Their experiences have been transformative: they are not just a springboard to their future but also a testament to the power of generosity and the potential to change the face of academic innovation and belonging.
Learn more about experiential learning at Concordia.