Groundbreaking research by two 16-year-old Holy Spirit High School students from CBS, N.L., that explores the potential for methods that will improve biofuel production from microalgae in cold environments has earned top prize in the recent Atlantic regional competition of the 2012 Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC).
Student teams from all four Atlantic provinces gathered in Moncton, N.B., on April 25 to compete for top honours in this national biotechnology research competition that encourages Canadian youth to pursue future careers in Canadas $86-billion biotechnology industry.
Competing against 18 other teams, Grade 11 students Jared Trask and Kaitlyn Stockley won the overall first place prize and $2,000 for their study and experimentation that investigated methods to increase microalgae biofuel production in cold water environments. Microalgae as a source of biofuels have significant potential to augment the world supply of transportation fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Co-location with a waste water treatment facility could also reduce the discharge of harmful chemicals into the planets oceans. As well, it is possible to both reduce atmospheric emissions and enhance microalgae growth by locating a facility near a major waste-heat source and carbon dioxide emitter.
A separate winner from each Atlantic province was also selected. A $1,000 cash prize was awarded to Natalie Griffin and Holly Burford from Bishop's College in St. Johns. Their research investigated the use of partridgeberry extract as a treatment to help kill cervical cancer cells.
Sarah Winsors investigation of a possible causative relationship between diet and Alzheimers disease, as well as Gabby Molloy and Rebecca Caseys work on the effectiveness of citrus juices to kill bacteria, all received honourable mentions. The three young women attend Bishops College in St. Johns.
Its a wonderful feeling to win, said Mr. Trask. We put in a lot of time, and hoped that our efforts would be recognized.
We owe a lot of thanks to our mentors at MUN, and to those whose sponsorship helped us to compete successfully at this level, said Ms. Stockley. The SBCC experience has been fantastic, and its not over for us yet.
The students in this competition represent some of the brightest young scientists in Canada, said David King, chief executive officer of Genesis Group at Memorial University, which served as host and sponsor of the event. They excel among those that excel. I congratulate them all on their outstanding achievements. Initiatives like these are key in encouraging youth to consider science as a career path and in fostering new talent in the life sciences sector in Canada. Its a great experience for students, and I would encourage teachers to get interested students involved.
Over the past 19 years, we have helped more than 4,000 Canadian youth bring their passion, creativity and scientific ideas to life, said Rick Levick, executive director, Bioscience Education Canada. The Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada is unique because it partners participating students with mentors who have access to quality lab equipment and supplies. With the help of our community and sponsors across this country, we are creating a vital talent pool in Canadas growing and important biotechnology sector.
The 2012 Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada saw students compete in nine regional competitions throughout April. The regional winners, including Ms. Stockley and Mr. Trask, will participate in the national competition at the National Research Council in Ottawa, Ont., on May 7. The winners will be announced at 1 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, May 8. The first and second place winners will advance to the international BioGENEius Challenge held in Boston, Mass., on June 18, 2012, in conjunction with the BIO Annual International Convention.
This year, more than 240 high school and CEGEP students across Canada have submitted 192 projects that range from exploring potential new drug treatments for Parkinsons disease, multiple sclerosis and cancer to using mould fungi as an alternative to traditional pesticides.
For more information, please visit sanofibiogeneiuschallenge.ca, follow us on Facebook or Twitter@BioscienceEdCan #SBCC2012.
About the Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada
The Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada (SBCC) is a national, biotechology research competition that encourages high school and CEGEP students to pursue future studies and careers in the exciting field of biotechology. Co-ordinated by Bioscience Education Canada since its beginning in 1993, the initiative is sponsored by Sanofi Pasteur Limited, Sanofi Canada, Genome Canada, the National Research Council Canada (NRC), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Government of Canadas Youth Awareness Program.