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Students win undergrad research award

Mirriam Mikhail, left, and Anh Cao won the 2013 Stem Cell Network Undergraduate Research Training Award & Co-op Award.

UTSC students Anh Cao and Mirriam Mikhail have aspirations of becoming active players in the scientific industry. And so far, they are on the right track.

The duo recently won the 2013 Stem Cell Network (SCN) Undergraduate Research Training Award & Co-op Award, a national prize that gives them an opportunity to gain extensive hands-on experience in stem cell research through work placements in the laboratories of SCN principal investigators.  Only seven of these awards are granted annually.

“I was very excited but also quickly began to worry about how I could accomplish it,” says Cao, who is in third year of the cell and molecular biology program, and will be researching immunology, focusing on stem cell interactions.  “This is a big honour to get the award, but it’s also a huge responsibility.”

Clare Hasenkampf, UTSC professor of biological sciences, recommended Cao for the award. She says she was impressed by his performance in the genetics course where he scored a grade of 100 percent, a first in her 22 years of teaching experience. She described him as “highly intelligent, extremely hardworking and very effective in the lab.”

 Mikhail wants to examine the interaction of stem cells with the nervous system after incidents of neurotraumatic injury.

“Mirriam is a very bright student and I was both pleased and honored to work with her. Not only is she intellectually gifted, but she possesses an infectious enthusiasm and 'can do' attitude that is a rare commodity in today's world,” says Dan Riggs, associate professor of biological sciences, who recommended Mikhail for the award.

Recipients of the SCN awards also get an opportunity to attend and make a presentation at the national Till & McCulloch scientific meeting. The ultimate objective of these awards, valued at $10,000 each, is to prepare undergraduate students with a demonstrated interest in stem cells for post-graduate training in stem cell research.

 




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