More than 250 alumni and friends gathered at the Sheraton Hotel in St. John's recently to celebrate of Memorial University's most accomplished alumni at the 30th Annual Alumni Tribute Awards.
Among them, Krista Power (B.Sc. (hons.) ’00) accepted the Horizon Award for exceptional achievement under the age of 35 for her ongoing work as a professor and researcher. Ms. Power is currently a research scientist with Agriculture and Agrifood Canada and adjunct professor at the University of Guelph and University of Toronto.
Originally from Mount Carmel in St. Mary's Bay, Ms. Power moved to Mount Pearl as a youth, prior to attending Memorial. She says her experiences cemented her interest in science.
"I think Memorial definitely confirmed that interest, but I had a lot of pre-university exposure to science that really had a strong influence as well," she said. "I was selected for the women in science and engineering program and was fortunate enough to work in a lab at the Health Science Centre for a summer. So that was really the beginning for me.
"When I started biochemistry at Memorial I loved doing research already. From there I pursued nutrition and then did my Master's and PhD at the University of Toronto."
Ms. Power's current research has a strong focus on women's health, in particular breast cancer and osteoporosis. She has been studying foods that are rich in estrogen-like compounds, like soy and flaxseed, which are called phytoestrogens. These phytoestrogens may affect women's health by activating estrogen receptors and mimicking our own natural estrogens. She's also looking at colon cancer and how food and food components modulate cancer development.
"There is a personal connection as in my family right now colon cancer and the risk of colon cancer is elevated- really all throughout Newfoundland," she explained. "The province ranks as one of the highest in terms of incidence rates of the disease. Prevention is key as opposed to treatment. The way we're looking at prevention is to do it through healthy eating and to consume foods that hopefully have anti-cancer properties."
In addition to her research and her work with Agriculture Canada, Ms. Power enjoys teaching.
"I give guest lectures and also supervise graduate students. I've also taken undergraduate volunteers into my lab, because I know from the experience that I had as a younger student that those opportunities really played such an important role in where I am now. So I'm keeping that as a priority."
She says she's extremely honoured to receive the Horizon Award.
"It's actually nice to be able to look back because in the beginning of your career you're constantly looking forward. But for me, it's just that, a pause to reflect. I've got so much left to do."
Other Alumni Tribute Awards presented included the Alumna of the Year Award, to Rhonda Zygocki; the Outstanding Community Service Award to Fred Best; and the J.D. Eaton Award for exceptional leadership and outstanding service to Memorial University was given to Elizabeth Scammell-Reynolds.
To learn more about the 2011 recipients of the Alumni Tribute Awards, please visit www.munalum.ca.