January 17th, 2019

U of L program offers research opportunity for Grade 11 students

By Kalinowski, Tim on August 3, 2018.

Student Aidan Sander captures small aquatic invertebrates as part of an experiment of the effects of pesticides Wednesday during the Heritage Youth Researchers Summer program at the University of Lethbridge. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald


The Heritage Youth Researchers Summer (HYRS) program is in full swing at the University of Lethbridge through August, with seven high-achieving Lethbridge Grade 11 students getting the opportunity to engage in high-level academic research.

“Basically, it is an opportunity which was originally funded by Alberta Innovates, and has been running for nearly 20 years now since 2000,” explains U of L HYRS co-ordinator Brett Weighill. “We bring in students entering their senior year of high school. We give them a paid opportunity to come onto campus and enter the research labs of our faculty. That could be in neuroscience, biochemistry, plant science, aquatic toxicology or various other research fields. The students come on campus and take on a research project with post-doctoral students and PhDs in our faculty labs.”

The seven students chosen are always in the highest percentile of students in southern Alberta in terms of grade point average, but also bring a little extra to the table in terms of community engagement as well. They are assigned specific six-week projects to work on by the U of L’s team of researchers.

Student Aidan Sander is doing a research project for HYRS studying the effects of certain pesticides on aquatic invertebrates.

“I feel I am very lucky to have such an opportunity because many youth don’t have the opportunity to work in state-of-the-art labs on such a beautiful campus,” says Sander. “It teaches me hands-on experience I can use later on in life.”

Student Tabitha Gangur-Powell, on the other hand, does not foresee laboratory research as being her primary focus when she enters post-secondary school. She is nonetheless grateful for the opportunity to explore complex questions in a first-class research setting. She is studying the effects of stress on multiple sclerosis development in rats for her HYRS project.

“It has been really amazing meeting other people I can relate to a lot,” she says, “and who are as driven as me. In the lab you are constantly surrounded by all of these people with so much information they are always willing to share.”

HYRS comes to an end on Aug. 23 with a final public Symposium Night at the university. HYRS students will present the results of their summer research projects at the event.

Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter

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