By Jensen, Randy on July 15, 2020.
Elani Bykowski’s time at the University of Lethbridge has been a journey, both figuratively and literally.
Bykowski, who graduated from Chinook High School, leaves the university with a BSc ’18, MSc ’20 and is also the recipient of the School of Graduate Studies Silver Medal of Merit – Master of Science.
She is one of four southern Alberta high school graduates to receive prestigious medals during the recent U of L online Spring 2020 Convocation.
As far as journeys go, one lengthy road trip stands out for Bykowski.
“My most memorable experience was going on a 25-hour road trip with other students from the Metz/Montina lab to Pacific Grove, California, to present posters at a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance conference,” said Bykowski.
Bykowski’s thesis focused on the analysis of urinary and blood-derived biomarkers in patients affected by traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury.
She pursued this research under co-supervision by Dr. Gerlinde Metz and Tony Montina (BSc ’08, MSc ’10) in collaboration with the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary.
Bykowski was supported by a CIHR CGS-M Graduate Award and she received a Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement to spend time at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. Her productive academic track record is complemented by outstanding athletic accomplishments as part of the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns golf team.
Bykowski thanked Jon Doan, her undergraduate research supervisor, for teaching her foundational research skills as well as graduate research co-supervisors, Metz and Tony Montina, for their support and mentorship during her University of Lethbridge journey.
“The most important lesson I learned is to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves,” said Bykowski. “You never know where your next connection or experience will lead to. Be open to different opportunities and put yourself out there.”
Bykowski will begin physiotherapy at the University of Alberta in August.
“My Master of Science project was focused on associating biomarkers with rehabilitation outcomes following spinal cord injury and brain injury, so I am excited to enter the clinical world of rehabilitation.”
Bykowski said balancing classwork with outside interests are key for students starting their post-secondary careers.
“My biggest pieces of advice would be to take advantage of networking with your peers in your classes and labs and to balance your studies with other things you enjoy.”