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Engaging future neuroscientists in research

High school student Andrew Panteluk was a participant in the 2015 Heritage Youth Researcher Summer program at the HBI.

This summer, high school student Andrew Panteluk explored ways of improving the thinking, memory, and cognitive function of the aging brain in senior citizens. Andrew was one of 22 grade 11 students who participated in the 2015 Heritage Youth Researcher Summer (HYRS) program. The six‐week program provides hands‐on health research experiences in laboratories and clinics at the University of Calgary.

Andrew worked in the laboratory of Marc Poulin, PhD, a professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. The lab investigates the relationship between exercise, blood flow in the brain, and thinking and memory.

“I’d like to pursue surgery in the future,” says Andrew. “My HYRS mentors are at the top of their discipline. While working with them, I’ve seen how biomedical research will help solve serious problems for our aging population.” Andrew’s project is part of a larger research program called the Brain-In-Motion Study. “I’m excited to show my high school teachers the complexity of the work I’ve been performing.” View CTV Feature

Summer student excels in Brain Bee competitions

Fellow high school student Janson Kappen applied his summer experience in the labs to make waves at the highly competitive International Brain Bee in Cairns, Australia. After winning the local and national championships earlier in the year, he placed an impressive fifth out of twenty-four national winners this August. The Brain Bee pits high school students against each other in a competition including a neuroanatomy laboratory, patient diagnosis, and rapid-fire questions on the brain.

For Janson, the highlight of his summer experience at the University of Calgary was observing autopsies with real human brains with HBI member and neuropathologist Dr. Jeffrey Joseph. This allowed him to master the intricacies of the brain and excel at the neuroanatomy round of the Brain Bee.

Mutually beneficial experience for students and trainees

In addition to benefiting student participants, the HBI’s high school outreach through HYRS and Brain Bee provides trainees with experience communicating their research to the community. HBI trainees Lauren Drogos, Simon Sharples and Laura Palmer mentored Andrew and Janson both in the labs and by providing insight into neuroscience education.

Next year’s local Brain Bee will be held March 2016 in Calgary. If you would like to mentor a Calgary student or support the competition, please contact the HBI Education Coordinator.